Skiing in Montana provides perspective on why they call it the Big Sky state. When you’re at the top of the mountains, you’re able to look out and see miles and miles of the beautiful country. With over a dozen ski resorts to choose from, it’s hard to choose the best ski resorts in Montana.
I’ve visited several resorts in Montana and each time I go to a new one, it climbs my list of favorites. I appreciate the locally owned resorts because they provide some insider knowledge.
Table of Contents
- The 10 Best Ski Resorts to Visit in Montana
- 1. Whitefish Mountain Resort – Whitefish, MT
- 2. Blacktail Mountain Ski Area – Lakeside, MT
- 3. Big Sky Resort – Big Sky, MT
- 4. Montana Snow Bowl – Missoula, MT
- 5. Bridger Bowl – Bozeman, MT
- 6. Red Lodge Mountain – Red Lodge, MT
- 7. Great Divide Montana – Marysville, MT
- 8. Discovery Ski Area – Anaconda, MT
- 9. Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area – Saltese, MT
- 10. Maverick Mountain – Polaris, MT
- Getting Around Montana
- Quick Itineraries for Visiting the Top Ski Resorts in Montana
- FAQs About Visiting the Ski Resorts in Montana
- In Conclusion
The ski areas in Montana are hard to beat. I’d put them up against any in the country – you can’t go wrong with any resort you choose to visit!
The 10 Best Ski Resorts to Visit in Montana
Montana has 14 total ski resorts with some being far larger and more commercialized than others. The beauty of Montana is that you have the unique, small, family-owned ski resorts mixed in with some large and luxurious operations. Whatever kind of resort you’re after, you’re sure to find it here.
1. Whitefish Mountain Resort – Whitefish, MT
Whitefish Mountain Resort is my personal favorite resort in all of Montana. I absolutely love northern Montana and I believe this resort encapsulates all the beauty of the area. The resort itself has over 3,000 acres for visitors to ski along with 10 different chairlifts.
The four sections of this resort available for you to ski cover 2,000 vertical feet. You’ll also find four phenomenal terrain parks if you’re interested in testing the limits of your skills. The four sections all have different levels of runs, but you’ll find the least amount of crowds near the Flower Point area.
Combine the 300 inches of snow and phenomenal views of Glacier National Park and you have an experience at Whitefish ski resort that you’ll never forget. It’s going to test even the most experienced skier, but you can also find plenty to do if you’re new to the sport. It’s a great location for all different kinds of people.
Location: Whitefish Ski Resort is located seven miles away from the town of Whitefish. Whitefish is a unique mountain town with all sorts of restaurants, lodging, and access to any supplies you might need for your trip. Northern Montana is filled with great unique towns and Whitefish is just one of them.
Getting There: From the town of Whitefish, visitors can take a shuttle to and from areas within the town to the resort itself. This is a nice feature if you want to avoid parking. However, you’re also able to drive and park your car there for the day if you would like.
Cost of a Day Pass:
- Adults (19-64): $89
- Senior (65-69): $76
- Teen (13-18): $76
- Junior (7-12): $45
- Super Senior (70+): $29
- Child (6 & Under): Free
Where to Eat: When you’re in the village, make sure to stop at the Hellroaring Saloon & Eatery. Here, you’ll find a more casual atmosphere that’s perfect for a day at the slopes. The nachos are an amazing option to help warm you up and quench that strong appetite you worked up skiing or snowboarding.
Where to Stay: When you’re visiting Whitefish Mountain Resort, it’s best to stay in the town of Whitefish itself. This way, you can enjoy the nice features of a town while still being extremely close to the slopes. Check out this incredible lakefront condo on Airbnb for your trip. You’ll have Whitefish Lake right outside of your window. It’s a 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom condo with enough room for six people to sleep.
2. Blacktail Mountain Ski Area – Lakeside, MT
If you’re more of a beginner but still want to visit northern Montana, then the Blacktail Mountain ski area is a great option for you. There isn’t as much expert terrain available, so keep that in mind. You’ll have around 1,000 acres for you to explore.
Families and intermediate skiers will be continually challenged. You’ll have great views of Flathead Lake and will be able to overlook the surrounding Flathead National Forest Land. The trails are tree-lined and fairly easy to traverse. There are 1440 feet of elevation and four different lifts.
The longest run you’ll find is 1.75 miles and the average snowfall is around 250 inches. It’s a great, smaller ski resort that provides an authentic experience in Montana. You won’t regret spending a day here.
Location: Located near the town of Lakeside, Blacktail Mountain Ski Area doesn’t feel overly desolate. You’re close to everything you’d want.
Getting There: To get to Blacktail Mountain Ski Area, you’re going to want a car. It’s a few miles from Lakeside and around 45 minutes from Kalispell, so driving is your best bet.
Cost of a Day Pass: Day pass prices are not yet posted for the 2022-2023 season, but they average around $50 to $75 per day.
Where to Eat: Eat at Tamarack Brewing Company in Lakeside after you ski. The fish tacos are amazing!
Where to Stay: Stay in Lakeside when skiing Blacktail. This modern home is perfect for you and even offers a game room with ping pong, foosball, and a large smart TV.
3. Big Sky Resort – Big Sky, MT
Big Sky Resort is my second favorite resort in Montana. It feels like a dream every time you hit the slopes. The miles of National Forest land that surrounds this resort is amazing to look at.
Healthy forests and the Gallatin River flow below the thousands of acres you’re able to ski. Plus, the snow conditions are always perfect.
You have 5,800 acres of terrain to ski and 4,300 feet of vertical drop. This is one of the largest ski resorts in the entire United States and provides 30 lifts and over 300 runs. Plus, you have a great terrain park that’s a blast. I spent three days here and still had plenty of runs that I wasn’t able to do.
The terrain is fairly friendly for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. They have plenty of beginner runs as well as a massive amount of backcountry and advanced runs. The bowls in Big Sky set it apart from many other ski resorts across the west.
Location: Big Sky Resort is located near the town of Big Sky and about an hour south of Bozeman, Montana. When here, you have everything you would need within a few minutes of you.
Getting There: To access Big Sky Resort, you’re going to want a car, (unless you’re staying in the village). If you’re staying in the town, there are shuttles that run back and forth, but if your accommodation is in Bozeman, I recommend driving yourself.
Cost of a Day Pass:
- Adults (15-69): $98
- Senior (70+): $81
- Junior (7-14): $65
- Child (6 & Under): $1
Where to Eat: When in the village, eat at The Cabin Bar & Grill. Make sure to try the burger!
Where to Stay: Stay in the town of Big Sky when you visit. It’s the perfect location. Check out this comfortable townhome for your stay. It’s a 3 bedroom and 3.5 bathroom space with plenty of room for couples and families. Plus, you’re staying right in the Town Center of Big Sky close to all the best restaurants and bars.
4. Montana Snow Bowl – Missoula, MT
The Montana Snow Bowl is a blast to ski or snowboard. While it only covers around 950 acres, you’ll find 2,600 feet of vertical. The runs can be steep and tight. They’re an absolute blast to run. If you’re interested in longer runs, they have options offering up to 3 miles.
It’s not a great place for beginners since there are only two chair lifts and two surface lifts. It’s definitely an area for experienced skiers that are looking to put their skills to the test. You’ll find a decent amount of backcountry for you to explore as well.
I spent a half-day at the Snow Bowls and I left exhausted! This resort will give you as much as you’re willing to put into it.
Location: Located about a half an hour from Missoula, the Montana Snow Bowl is close to every possible amenity you would want.
Getting There: You can get here either by shuttle or car. There are shuttles from Missoula that will take you here, but for ease and flexibility, you’re better off having your own car.
Cost of a Day Pass:
- Adult: $60
- Student and Senior: $57
- Child (6-12): $27
- Child (5 & Under): Free
Where to Eat: The Camino is a great place to visit after you ski at the Snow Bowl. Located in Missoula, it’s one of the best Mexican restaurants in the area. Refuel after a day of slopes with their enchiladas.
Where to Stay: Stay in Missoula when you’re skiing the Snow Bowl. You’ll appreciate all of the activities the town has to offer in the winter. This home in Missoula is ideal. It has a large, open floor plan that’s perfect for relaxing at the end of a long day on the slopes.
5. Bridger Bowl – Bozeman, MT
Bridger Bowl is a great place for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. It stretches over 2,000 acres and has 2,700 feet of vertical. If you want some great backcountry and challenging terrain, then this is the spot for you. One of the chairlifts takes you directly there.
There are seven other chairlift options for you to visit if the backcountry isn’t for you. It’s a nice spot for families and beginners. There’s even a day-care on site if you want to drop off your kids for a few hours and ski.
I’ve visited Bridger Bowl a few times and as a snowboarder, I find all of the runs to be an absolute blast. I love the backcountry and bowl runs.
Location: Located about 30 minutes north of Bozeman, Bridger Bowl is in an ideal location.
Getting There: You can take a car or a shuttle from the town of Bozeman.
Cost of a Day Pass:
- Adult (19-69): $70
- Junior (13-18): $45
- Child (7-12): $30
- Senior (70-79): $40
- Pre-School (6 & Under): Free
Where to Eat: Blackbird is a great Italian restaurant in Bozeman. You’ll pay around $20 for an entree, but it’s well worth it after a long day of activity.
Where to Stay: Stay in Bozeman when skiing Bridger Bowl. This chalet is perfect! It’s a modern 2 bedroom and 1 bathroom chalet north of the Bozeman Brewery Historic District. You’re on your way out of town towards the mountain, but still close to all the best places downtown.
6. Red Lodge Mountain – Red Lodge, MT
If the idea of a vintage, quiet ski resort excites you, then look no further than Red Lodge Mountain. While the lifts are slow and may seem a bit outdated, Red Lodge is an amazing place to ski and snowboard. You’ll find 1,700 acres to ski with 2,400 feet of vertical.
There are 71 runs on this mountain that are constantly hit with snow throughout the winter. They average around 250 inches of snow per year. It’s not great for beginners as the runs are steep and more advanced, but if you’re an intermediate or advanced skier or snowboarder, then visit here.
The best part of this resort is the lack of crowds. It’s not located close to any major cities, so people have to plan ahead to get here. I absolutely love visiting Red Lodge Mountain. I always feel as if I have the whole mountain to myself.
Location: Red Lodge Mountain is located in the town of Red Lodge. Red Lodge is around 90 minutes away from Billings.
Getting There: When you visit Red Lodge, you’re going to need a car. The closest airport is nearly two hours away, so you’ll want your own transportation.
Cost of a Day Pass: Lift ticket prices are not yet available for the 2022-2023 season, but they’re usually around $50 to $100.
Where to Eat: Foster and Logans Pub & Grill is a must-visit. The mozzarella sticks are incredibly moreish! Plus, prices are reasonable for entrees.
Where to Stay: Stay in Red Lodge for your visit. This home in town is perfect and has its own private hot tub for you to unwind in.
7. Great Divide Montana – Marysville, MT
Great Divide Ski Area is a local ski area for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Even though it’s a spot that’s preferred by locals, it has around 1,600 acres for you to explore. These 1,600 acres offer around 140 trails with the longest being over 3 miles.
You’ll find a nice variety of bowls here; beginner trails, and even six park trails. Families, expert skiers, and snowboarders can feel at home at this resort and it also stays open the longest out of any ski resort across the state.
This is the ski resort that’s top of my list to visit! I’m a sucker for small, locally owned and operated ski resorts.
Location: The Great Divide Ski Area is about 30 miles from Helena, in the town of Marysville.
Getting There: To get here, you’re going to want a car. It’s more of a desolate destination.
Cost of a Day Pass:
- Adult (15-69): $64
- College: $54
- Student (6th Grade to High School): $48
- Senior (70+): $28
Where to Eat: Eat at Marysville House in the heart of Marysville. It’s a rustic restaurant with great seafood and steak options. You’ll pay around $40 for an entree, but it’s well worth it.
Where to Stay: Stay near Marysville when you visit the Great Divide Ski Area. It’s close to the resort. This cabin is amazing. It’s a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom home with a view of the slopes. Plus, it borders state land, so you can head out and explore wherever you would like.
8. Discovery Ski Area – Anaconda, MT
Discovery Ski Area is another family-owned and operated ski resort in Montana. This resort is huge. It stretches across 2,200 acres and its close proximity to a wilderness area provides some of the best backcountry skiing in the state.
There are three faces for you to choose from here with runs perfect for beginners, experts, and intermediate skiers. If you’re interested in cross-country skiing, there are 20 miles of trails to choose from.
I absolutely love Discovery and believe it to be the best-kept secret in Montana. I find it challenging every time and if I’m after some backcountry snowboarding, I always come here.
Location: Discovery Ski Area is located in Anaconda, Montana between Butte and Hamilton. The town of Anaconda is large enough to supply you with everything you’ll need for your trip.
Getting There: You’re going to want a car when visiting Discovery. The shuttle and public transportation options are very limited.
Cost of a Day Pass:
- Adult (13 & Older): $70
- Child (12 & Under): $39
- Senior (65 & Older) $56
Where to Eat: O’Bella is a lovely Italian restaurant in Anaconda. All the pasta dishes are amazing.
Where to Stay: Stay in Anaconda on your trip to Discovery. This home is ideal for a ski trip and can accommodate up to four guests. It’s a few blocks from downtown Anaconda and is fully remodeled.
9. Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area – Saltese, MT
Lookout Pass is located partially in Idaho and partially in Montana. It’s a really family-friendly ski resort and doesn’t feel as intimidating as other resorts on this list. You have three terrain parks to choose from and one of them has a 1,000-long quarter pipe.
About 50% of the mountain is categorized as intermediate. There are 560 acres for you to explore with 1,150 feet of vertical. The best thing about this resort is the amount of snow they get each year. The average is over 400 inches annually!
Another great feature is the ski school for kids. This is one of the best ski schools in the entire state, so if you want your kids to learn to ski from the experts, choose Lookout Pass.
Location: Located right off I-90 near Saltese, Montana, Lookout Pass Ski Resort is fairly easy to access.
Getting There: You’ll need a car to get here – public transport options are essentially non-existent.
Cost of a Day Pass:
- Adult (18-61): $53
- Youth (7-17): $42
- Seniors (62-79): $42
- Child (6 & Under): Free
Where to Eat: The Old Montana Bar in Saltese is a charming, local restaurant not too far from Lookout Pass. You’ll find classic American fare for around $15 per entree.
Where to Stay: This guesthouse in Saltese is a good choice for you to stay on your trip. It’s a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom property that’s located on 116 acres of property with everything you would want for exploring Montana.
10. Maverick Mountain – Polaris, MT
If you want a place to ski for a half-day on your way in or out of Montana, then go to Maverick Mountain. Located in the southeast region of the state, you have 450 acres to ski. It’s right in the heart of Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, so there are some backcountry opportunities as well.
You have 24 routes to choose from. However, you do have 2020 feet of vertical, so the routes can be fairly steep and technical. There’s one chairlift and one tow rope that takes you all over the mountain.
It’s a great local place for you to visit on your trip.
Location: Located in Polaris, Maverick Mountain isn’t close to any Montana hotspots, so you’ll have the whole area to yourself.
Getting There: You’ll need a car to get here as there aren’t any options for public transportation.
Cost of a Day Pass:
- Adult: $45
- Junior (12 & Under): $30
- Seniors (65+): $40
- Kids (4 & Under): Free
Where to Eat: The Antler Saloon is a good choice for anyone skiing at Maverick, particularly for pizza lovers! It’s located in Wisdom, a little further north than Polaris.
Where to Stay: Stay in Polaris for your trip to Maverick. This cabin is perfect. It has a view of Maverick Mountain and can accommodate up to 6 guests. The new remodel is beautiful.
Getting Around Montana
If you’re hoping to do a tour of multiple ski resorts in Montana, you should definitely rent a car. Montana is too big of a state and many of the ski resorts are far apart from one another. During the winter, public transportation is very difficult to depend on.
Do yourself a favor and rent a car. This way, you don’t have to rely on anyone but yourself and the weather.
Quick Itineraries for Visiting the Top Ski Resorts in Montana
Here are a few simple itineraries to follow when visiting ski resorts in Montana.
3 Days in Montana
If you have three days in Montana, make sure you spend it in the southern region on the border of Wyoming. Start at Big Sky Resort in the town of Big Sky. You can easily spend three full days skiing here. They have terrain parks, beginner areas, and plenty of backcountry for you to experience.
If you’re looking to check out another resort nearby, then go to the Bridger Bowl north of Bozeman. It’s quite a bit smaller than Big Sky, but it’s still a unique place to ski. You can spend one full day here and be fully satisfied.
Make your home base Big Sky or Bozeman but keep in mind that you’ll need a car to get between the two resorts.
One Week in Montana
One week to ski in Montana is plenty of time to experience several amazing places. Your best bet is to start by flying into Billings and renting a car. From here, visit Red Lodge Ski Resort for a day and then head west towards Big Sky. You can stay in Red Lodge.
Spend four days skiing at Big Sky Resort. You need four days to experience all the different runs and amazing backcountry opportunities. After Big Sky, head north towards Bozeman and ski at Bridger Bowl. You can spend one to two days here depending on the type of skier you are and your experience.
There are quick and tight runs here. Stay in Bozeman or Big Sky for this portion.
After Bridger Bowl, head west and ski at Maverick Ski Resort. This is a small resort, but it’s a great local spot that not many tourists visit. It’s about an hour and a half from Bridger Bowl. After you ski at Maverick, you can drive back to Billings and fly out. You can even stay near the resort for a night.
You’ll need a car for this trip, but you’ll see some very unique places along the way so enjoy the journies as part of your stay!
10+ Days in Montana
A 10-day trip to Montana should include a visit to both Big Sky Resort and Whitefish Ski Resort. You can start in Billings and ski at Red Lodge resort for one day. After this, head over to Big Sky for three days. Stay in Big Sky or Bozeman.
After you ski in Big Sky, head north and ski at Bridger Bowl for another day. This is plenty of time for you to explore all of the mountains.
After you ski at Bridger Bowl, head north for about two and a half hours on State Highway 287 and make a stop at the Great Divide Ski Area. You can spend one day here as a pit stop. Maryville, Montana has plenty of areas for you to stay.
When you finish skiing at Great Divide, drive north on 287 to Blacktail Ski Resort. You can spend two days skiing here. The lodging options in Blacktail are plentiful, so you won’t have trouble finding a place to stay.
Finish your trip skiing at Whitefish. It’s an hour and a half north of Black Tail on State Highway 2. Your final two days in Whitefish are sure to absolutely blow your mind.
This is some of the best skiing in the entire country and you’ll also conveniently be close to the Kalispell airport where you can drop your rental car before returning home.
FAQs About Visiting the Ski Resorts in Montana
Answers to some commonly asked questions about the best skiing in Montana.
How many ski resorts are there in Montana?
Montana has 14 ski resorts spread across the state. Each region of the state has at least one.
What is the best ski resort in Montana?
The best ski resort in Montana is the Big Sky Resort in Big Sky, Montana. The sheer size of the resort and the amount of runs and backcountry makes for one of the best skiing experiences in the entire country.
How much are day passes for skiing in Montana?
Daily ski passes in Montana can range anywhere from $20 to $100 depending on the age of the skier and the ski resort.
What is the biggest mountain for skiing in Montana?
The Big Sky Resort is located on the biggest mountain for skiing in Montana. It’s located on Lone Mountain and it’s over 11,000 feet tall.
Is Montana known for skiing?
Yes, Montana is well-known for skiing. It’s not as popular as Colorado, but it’s a very reputable state for skiing.
Can I rent equipment at the ski hills in Montana?
Yes, you can rent equipment at the ski hills in Montana. Each resort has specific prices and regulations for when and the type of gear you’re able to rent.
What is the ski season in Montana?
Ski season in Montana usually begins in December and ends somewhere around March depending on the amount of snow at the resort.
Which ski resort in Montana is the best for beginners?
Big Sky Ski Resort has a phenomenal area for beginner skiers. Beginners have their own lifts and area of the resort to ski.
Skiing throughout Montana is truly an amazing experience. Most people spend time visiting Colorado and Utah, but they miss out on some phenomenal skiing in Montana.
The majority of the runs are on the western side of the state, so you can visit quite a few on your trip. I’ve had great times at Big Sky, Whitefish and Bridger Bowl, and would highly recommend that you prioritize those three.
Skip the crowds in the other popular ski areas across the country and make your visit to Montana. There are miles and miles of runs and backcountry that are there for you to explore. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, veteran or somewhere in between, you’ll absolutely love the ski resorts across Montana.
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