As the temps go down, the winter fun heats up. Whether outdoor enthusiasts are looking to ski knee-deep in powder or try something different like dog sledding, they will find there’s no better place to enjoy the wonder of winter than in Montana.
New Ski Offerings
With 14 incredible ski areas ranging from world-class resorts to charming mom and pop ski hills, Montana is a Mecca for skiers. With 3,000 acres, a summit elevation of 6,817 feet and breathtaking views of Whitefish Lake and Glacier National Park, Whitefish Mountain Resort is a skier’s dream come true. New this year, Whitefish will offer its first six-pack chairlift, the Snow Ghost Express. This high-speed lift will shuttle an estimated 2,200 guests per hour from the Base Lodge area to the top of Inspiration Ridge, providing a new route to the upper elevations of Big Mountain. Whitefish is commemorating its 75th anniversary this year, so don’t miss the celebration events throughout the season.
Lookout Pass, which sits on the Montana/Idaho border west of Missoula, is adding a new quadruple chairlift that will go to the summit of Eagle Peak. There will be 14 new trails and 500 more acres of additional terrain. This mid-size ski area receives more than 400 inches of powder per season, making it one of the snowiest resorts in the area a.k.a. powder paradise.
Ski-lovers of all ages will be excited to try out Montana Snowbowl’s new triple-seat chairlift. The lift, which will run from the base area to near the top of TV Mountain, will be one of the steepest lifts in the country. It’ll run 1,700 feet vertical and 3,800 feet long. Snowbowl is also adding three new non-beginner gladed runs with a mixture of open spaces and trees.
Remarkable Outdoor Adventures
Winter is a special time in Montana. The crowds of summer dissipate, the trees and mountains don a beautiful coat of snow, and the outdoor activities are amped up. Montana may be best known for its thousands of acres of skiable terrain, but it offers a slew of additional outdoor adventures that make winter unforgettable. Glide across the snow with a thrilling sled dog ride. This unique form of winter transportation uses a team of dogs to pull riders through the winter wonderland. Participants can enjoy the calmness of the surroundings and the swish of the sled runners. Many resorts offer dog sledding or visitors can arrange for an outfitter to take them for a ride.
Keep the adrenaline levels high with a snowmobile ride through Montana’s spectacular and diverse terrain. Blaze a trail through fresh powder and ride on thousands of miles of groomed and ungroomed snowmobiling trails that lace through the trees. Plenty of local outfitters offer guided tours and snowmobile rentals.
The Big Sky state is often at the top of the list when it comes to dream destinations for fishing and the season doesn’t end in winter. Anglers can drop a line on Montana’s beautiful lakes and rivers all four seasons. Ice fishing can be a true test of skill and a lot of fun. Inexperienced fishermen and women will want to enlist a professional guide who can provide all the gear and guidance needed to have an enjoyable and safe experience.
Winter in the National Parks
It’s no secret America’s national parks are stunningly beautiful. And Montana is lucky enough to offer access to two of them. Visiting Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks in the wintertime gives a totally different perspective. Trails that are crowded in summer turn into peaceful escapes in the winter. And the parks come alive when wildlife come out and make their way through the blanket of snow.
Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, experienced historic flooding this past summer. The park is welcoming visitors to experience its incredible beauty this winter. Wildlife viewing, ice skating and taking a ride on a snowcoach are just a few of the memorable activities the park offers. Glacier offers snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and winter camping. Most of the roads in Glacier and Yellowstone are closed to car traffic in winter, making it an idyllic time to visit.
Warm Your Soul at a Hot Spring
After a fun day on the slopes, there’s no better way to relax and unwind than with a soak in a hot spring. There’s just something about soaking in water heated by Mother Nature that soothes the soul. It’s a great way to relieve sore muscles and enjoy the beautiful mountain views. And when the snow comes down, it can be downright magical. Many hot springs in Montana offer lodging, food and even live music, making them a great destination.
Yellowstone Hot Springs, located eight miles north of the North entrance to Yellowstone National Park, is Montana’s newest hot springs experience. It’s nestled on the bank of the Yellowstone River situated between two mountain ranges, which provide incredible panoramas. Five mineral-rich pools with continual flow-through water circulation offer a peaceful and serene soaking experience. Yellowstone Hot Springs is the only hot springs in Montana to offer a Kneipp Walk Challenge. Kneipp Walks have ancient origins that date back to the 19th century. Guests are invited to walk in both hot and cold pools to help restore balance to the body, providing a unique experience.
Hot Winter Events
Montana winters can be long and cold, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to hibernate. Kick off the holiday season at one of the many Christmas strolls and other holiday events happening throughout the state. Montana’s picturesque small towns become even more charming during the holidays and the local events will make you feel like you’re living in a Hallmark movie. The Missoula Parade of Lights on December 3 features a variety of activities including a reverse parade where the floats line up on Higgins Ave. Patrons are invited to walk by and enjoy the floats while sipping hot cocoa. The event will also feature a visit from Santa, caroling, burn barrels, and the Missoula Makers Collective Winter Market.
The Big Sky state is full of fun indoor and outdoor events throughout the entire winter season. To get a true Western experience, check out the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals on January 12-14 in Great Falls. Catch the excitement live and don’t miss the best-of-the-best.
Looking to turn up the outdoor adventure? Head to Butte for SNöFLINGA (Swedish for “snowflake”). This festival is held on January 20-22 and highlights winter activities such as cross-country skiing, ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, curling, fat biking and walking trails.
Header image: Skiing at Montana’s Snowbowl.