Best Skiing In Montana: Guide For Best Mountains and Dates for Prime Snow Conditions

Written by Lev Baker
Published: January 12, 2023
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When it comes to skiing, few states do it better than Montana. With consistent snowfall and steep mountains, Montana has many ski mountains that offer a range of terrain and skiing options. Breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and wilderness are a given, while many also provide a variety of amenities and activities. Because Montana is known for its powdery snow and wide open spaces, it is a popular destination for skiers. If you are planning a skiing trip to Montana, get the best experience possible by going to the best mountains for skiing. It is also important to plan your trip during prime snow conditions to experience your ski vacation in Montana to the fullest.

Big Sky Resort

Big Sky Resort boasts 5,850 skiable acres – enough to fulfill all of your skiing needs! This amazing resort is located in southwestern Montana and is the second-largest ski resort in the United States. It is easily accessed through an hour-long scenic drive through the Gallatin National Forest. Yellowstone National Park is also near this resort which can easily be explored while you are in this area.

With slopes accommodating a range of levels from beginners to experts, this ski resort has something for everyone. The sheer size of this resort means you are not likely to be able to explore it all in a day! The Big Sky Resort recommends three days to ensure you get the best skiing experience. As the Big Sky Resort is an extremely well-known ski resort, it is also highly recommended that you book your ski vacation in advance.

Big Sky Resort is known for consistent snow throughout the season. This snow creates ideal picturesque skiing conditions making this the ski resort to head to in Montana. Annually, snowfall averages around 400 inches. It is best to visit this resort between December and March, as the average snowfall during this time is around 55 inches a month. In January, the average snowfall reaches its peak at approximately 67 inches of snow.

For those wanting to stay at the Big Sky Resort, you can book lodging through Big Sky Resort Central Reservations and reserve a place to stay that suits you. These lodgings include log cabins, condos, private homes, and hotel rooms. Pools, hot tubs, and fitness facilities are included with your accommodation so that this resort can even be enjoyed by those that don’t particularly enjoy skiing.

Big Sky ski resort in Montana offers some of the best skiing and snow conditions
Big Sky Resort offers some of the best skiing and snow conditions in Montana.

©Robert Vincelli/Shutterstock.com

Whitefish Mountain Resort

Located at Big Mountain in northwestern Montana and coming in a little smaller than Big Sky Resort, Whitefish Mountain Resort features over 3,000 skiable acres. With 113 trails ranging from beginner to expert difficulty, you are sure to find one that suits you here. The resort base sits at an elevation of 4,464 feet and the summit at 6,817 feet, giving you nearly half a vertical mile to descend.

The mountain’s yearly snowfall comes in at around 300 inches on average. The best months to visit are between December and March, as they average the highest average snowfall. December may be the best time to visit as it averages the heaviest snowfall at 62 inches, creating a beautiful atmosphere between the trees, bowls, and glades.

There are many services that the resort offers to make your time even more enjoyable. The resort features nighttime skiing on Fridays and Saturdays, which is an amazing experience! You can even stop in for a warm meal or cold drink at Ed and Mulley’s Bar and Grill on the way down the slope. In addition, the resort offers a “mountain paparazzi” photography service to keep the memories alive. Family portraits and even action shots of your time at the resort can be photographed. On top of all of this, the resort offers a shuttle service that will get you to and from where you need to be with minimal stress.

Whitefish Mountain Resort also has several amenities, including a spa and fitness center, as well as a variety of after-ski options. If you enjoy Whitefish Mountain Resort, you may want to become a member of the Big Mountain Club. Becoming a member gives you reserved parking, private storage lockers, and a members-only lounge area to rest and recharge. As a fun fact, Whitefish Mountain Resort hosted the U.S. Alpine Championships in 1949 and again in 2001. Many notable figures, such as Andrea Mead and Tommy Moe, have competed in the events.

Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana
Located at Big Mountain in Montana, Whitefish Mountain Resort features over 3,000 skiable acres and113 trails of varying difficulty.

©iStock.com/ronniechua

Bridger Bowl

Established more than 70 years ago, Bridger Bowl Ski Resort is located near the ski town of Bozeman, Montana. It is well-known in the skiing and snowboarding community for its challenging terrain and runs. With over 2,000 acres of skiable area of varying difficulty and featuring a 2,700 feet descent, this resort is sure to please. There are many different types of terrain across the 75+ trails, including groomed cruising, moguls, and backcountry.

The most impressive part of this resort is the Ridge Terrain Park suited to freestyle adventure seekers. However, it is recommended that only seasoned professionals attempt this area due to the lack of any safety warnings in this area. Additionally, anyone attempting this area must carry an avalanche transceiver, and it is recommended not to traverse it alone.

The resort offers a range of lessons to skiers and snowboarders, as well as rental equipment to get you started. They also offer other activities such as snowshoeing and fat tire biking for the more cautious. There are several dining options on the mountain, including a cafeteria, bars, and restaurants. Bridger Bowl is also home to the Bridger Gondola, which offers scenic views of the surrounding area and access to the upper mountain. At 8,800 feet, the top elevation stands quite tall, with the lifts servicing up to 8,700 feet. 

Bridger Bowl boasts a seasonal average of 300 inches of snowfall and has snowmaker machines that provide a top-up of around 5%. The best time to visit is between December and March, with February having prime snowfall at an average of 65 inches. The community event calendar for this resort is packed out, so you will always find something fun and different to do or spectate. Events such as the Torchlight Parade or Ride and Seek make for an enjoyable day out with family and friends.

Bridger Bowl Ski Resort in Montana
Bridger Bowl Ski Resort offers skiers and snowboarders 2,000 acres and more than 75 trails to enjoy.

©Morseofphoto/Shutterstock.com

Red Lodge Mountain

Red Lodge Mountain is located in south-central Montana. This ski mountain is known for its affordability and large mountain terrain. If you are after a friendly and laid-back atmosphere, Red Lodge Mountain will deliver. The skiable area is over 1,600 acres and is best suited for intermediate and advanced skiers. Not only are all 70 trails well maintained and unique, but the lines at the seven chairlifts are usually short. More fun and less waiting!

The longest run the Red Lodge Mountain offers is around 2.5 miles. It also has a 2,400-foot vertical rise. Boasting a variety of terrain, Red Lodge Mountain includes beginner slopes, glades, and steeps. So even though it is best suited for more experienced skiers, even beginners can enjoy their ski vacation here!

The average annual snowfall is around 250 inches. It is best to go between December and April when the average monthly snowfall is at its highest. In February, the average monthly snowfall reaches its peak at 47 inches. However, the snow is still great in April with fewer crowds which could lead to a very relaxing spring ski vacation.

To experience a proper ski vacation, lodging near the ski area ensures you fully enjoy what Red Lodge Mountain offers. There is a variety of accommodations around the area that could fit your needs, including hotels, motels, condos, and resorts.

Red Lodge Mountain in Montana
Red Lodge Mountain is a ski area located within the Beartooth Mountains in south-central Montana.

©SevenMaps/Shutterstock.com

Montana Snowbowl

If you are an intermediate or advanced skier that enjoys a laid-back skiing atmosphere, the Montana Snowbowl is for you! Because of its steep routes and a variety of expert terrain requiring technical runs, you can expect fewer crowds at this resort. Another reason to visit Montana Snowbowl is that it provides an area with plenty of snowfall and is affordable.

The Montana Snowbowl boasts over 950 acres of skiable land, of which 500 acres are designated glade skiing. This ski area is known for its steep runs and a 2,600-foot vertical rise. As all the terrains are steep, they can be intimidating for beginner skiers. There are two ski lifts at this resort which could result in lift lines during the busier months. However, because this resort is catered toward a specific group of skiers, the lines are generally not too long. 

The snowfall at Montana Snowbowl is impressive, with the average annual snowfall at 300 inches. It is best to visit this resort between December and March as the average snowfall is highest during these months. The average snowfall peaks in February at around 44 inches.

Montana Snowbowl is located in the Lolo National Forest of Western Montana. This area is convenient as downtown Missoula is only an 8-mile drive away. However, Montana Snowbowl also provides lodging if you want to stay in the ski area.

Montana Snowbowl is for more advanced skiers
Montana Snowbowl attracts intermediate and advanced skiers who can manage the challenging runs.

©Evan Lovely / Flickr – License

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Big Sky resort in Montana.
Skier on the back side of Big Sky resort in Montana.
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About the Author

I have been a freelance writer for the past 2 years. My two biggest loves in the world are music and animals. I have even gone on to start my own personal blog called Frontman Philosophy. I have a huge love of animals and I love building my knowledge of animals through research. I love sea creatures in particular, my favorite being the octopus because of their intelligence, and I mean, come on, what's not to love! I have a rescue boxer named Dante who is the friendliest pup a man could ask for.

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Sources
  1. Planet Ware, Available here: https://www.planetware.com/montana/top-rated-ski-resorts-in-montana-us-mt-46.htm
  2. Big Sky Resort, Available here: https://bigskyresort.com/
  3. U.S. News, Available here: https://travel.usnews.com/features/top-ski-resorts-in-montana