Best Montana Ski Resorts for Downhill Skiing
Skiing in Montana is an unforgettable experience. The state boasts favorable ski conditions throughout the winter months and is home to world-class ski resorts as well as smaller locally-loved ski resorts.
This, coupled with mountainous terrain and majestic summits make it the best state for downhill skiing in the country (in our opinion, anyway!). While many vacationers head to warmer climates during the colder months, winter weather fans will delight in the fresh powder to be found across Montana during the ski season.
Featuring acres of terrain to carve, Montana’s ski runs are unparalleled. See why the Treasure State beckons powder enthusiasts with a variety of slopes and trails.
What to Pack for Skiing in Montana
First though, let’s discuss what to pack for your Montana ski adventures.
Skiing in Montana can also be a battle against the elements. Ensure your ski trip to Montana by Montana is the best it can be by bringing the right apparel and equipment.
Ski Mask or Baclava: If the wind chill is going to be in the single digits (or negative!) when you’re skiing in Montana, I highly recommend investing in a Face Mask or Baclava, which when paired with ski goggles, will keep your whole face covered and warmer. A Baclava is ideal for fitting under a helmet, too, if you want more warmth. —> Baclava Top Pick
If you do go for a standard neck gaiter, I’d recommend staying away from the fleece, which can soak up moisture, and instead getting a wool-based one like this SmartWool gaiter.
Ski Goggles: Don’t just throw in a pair of sunglasses to your suitcase and call it a day. Protect your eyes from the sunshine and the elements and keep them warmer with ski goggles. I’ve long been a fan of Smith snow goggles and this style is quite affordable.
Ski Jacket: By this I mean a proper ski jacket, not some old puffy coat you pull out of your closet. Make sure your jacket is wind and water repellant and has a moisture-wicking inner layer. I also recommend getting one with a powder skirt to keep the snow out, like this Patagonia jacket.
Mittens vs. Gloves: If you’re like me and your hands get cold easily, invest in some high-quality water-resistant mittens. I have found even heavy duty ski gloves can’t keep my individual fingers warm on the mountain tops of Montana, but mittens do. And if I stick in hand warmers, it’s easier to keep them warm than in gloves. This is a good brand and style that also comes with glove liners that are touchscreen compatible!
Short on packing space? Read my guide to how to pack for a ski trip in just a carry-on.
Where to Find Montana’s Best Skiing
Alright, now for where to find the best skiing in Montana so you can put those items listed above to proper use!
The gorgeous mountains of Montana provide some of the best skiing in the world. The following downhill ski areas and cross-country meadows throughout the state will delight even the most discriminating skiing enthusiast.
Big Sky Resort
Located between Bozeman and Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky Resort is in southwestern Montana. With 300 trails and 22 lifts across 5,800 acres, Big Sky Resort boasts terrain that appeals to all levels. Beginner to advanced skiers will find their perfect trail.
One of the most popular resorts, Big Sky continually receives tops ratings. Whether it’s the spectacular views, variety of trails, amenities, and atmosphere, hitting the slopes at Big Sky is a must for those looking for the preeminent ski experience in Montana.
Also near Bozeman is Bridger Bowl, which is where the locals of Montana’s Paradise Valley and surrounding areas tend to head when they want to ski.
While it’s not as large or as ritzy feeling as Big Sky, Bridger Bowl still has what’s important: epic runs and excellent snow conditions.
With 105 runs and an annual snowfall of 333 inches, Whitefish Mountain provides skiers with a variety of trails for all levels. Waits are made shorter with 11 lifts, two T-bars and a magic carpet conveyer belt to bring skiers to their desired trail.
Read More: Top Things to Do in Whitefish, Montana
Discovery Ski Area
With 40 trails across 380 acres, Discovery Ski Area is centrally located between Missoula, Butte, and Helena. Low wait times, powder bowls and a 1300-foot vertical drop provide skiers with a variety of beginner and intermediate runs. Ideal alpine skiing awaits at this ski area in Philipsburg, Montana.
Red Lodge Mountain Resort
This full-service resort includes 70 runs across two mountain summits. Beginners and veterans alike will appreciate the variety of slopes. For unpretentious skiing, Red Lodge Mountain offers a simple, fun skiing experience with low wait times and few crowds.
Rentals, lessons, a repair shop and dining options are also available at Red Lodge Mountain Resort.
Montana Snowbowl is home to a three-mile trail called Paradise as well as a steep 2,000-foot drop named Grizzly.
With over 950 acres of trails and runs, Montana Snowbowl is better suited to veteran skiers with more experience than beginners. Just a short drive from Missoula, Snowbowl is located in the Lolo National Forest.
Great Divide Ski Area
The Great Divide Ski Area boasts the least expensive lift ticket in the region. With 10 trails, six terrain parks, and night skiing, it is an ideal resort for groups and families. Visitors looking to start skiing early in the season flock to this ski area near Helena and the Continental Divide since it is usually the first ski area in Montana to open each season.
Nestled among the national forest, Blacktail Mountain offers 24 runs across 200 acres. Overlooking the small Montana town of Lakeside, Blacktail Mountain is at an elevation that receives 250 inches of snowfall per year.
Located on the western side of Flathead Lake in the Flathead National Forest, Blacktail Mountain also offers easy access from top-notch lodges and dude ranches in the area.
Have Fun Skiing in Montana!
With short wait times to be found, countless trails and expert runs, plus an abundance of snowfall, Montana is the best skiing destination for skiers of all levels. Hope you have a blast experiencing the ski resorts of Montana!