Montana’s Ultimate Winter Vacation Guide for Travelers

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: December 29th, 2023

The perfect winter vacation destinations combine outdoor adventure, cozy relaxation, and scenic natural beauty.

If you’re looking for an ideal snowy getaway, there’s nothing quite like the majestic experiences of a Montana winter vacation. 

This article is a complete guide for travelers interested in learning about winter vacations in Montana. We’ll share everything you need to know about winter in Montana and provide key insights into the following:

  • Best winter activities to try in Montana 
  • Top spots to check out during winter in Montana 
  • Popular wintertime events in Montana
  • How to plan a winter vacation in Montana 

Let’s dive in!

Winter Activities in Montana

What makes Montana such an astounding destination to visit is the wide array of winter adventures. Let’s explore some of the must-try activities during the winter season in Montana: 

Skiing and snowboarding at popular ski resorts

cross-Country Skiing

There is no shortage of spectacular ski areas in Montana for skiers and snowboarders to hit. 

Many of the resorts offer abundant terrain for all levels, luxurious accommodations, and first-rate amenities. 

If you’re looking to try skiing and snowboarding for the first time, Black Mountain is one of the best hills for beginners. 

Snowmobiling and snowshoeing in national parks and forests

montana snowmobile rentals

Snowshoeing and snowmobiling are two of the most popular and accessible winter activities in Montana. 

You’ll find tons of opportunities for them in Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. See the natural beauty of Montana off the beaten path while also enjoying the excitement of snowshoeing and snowmobiling!

Ice fishing on frozen lakes and rivers

ice fishing
Image: USFWS Fish and Aquatic Conservation

Locations:  Flathead Lake Charters,
Price range: $350 – $650
Best for: Those who want to spend the day relaxing in an ice shelter and enjoy a freshly caught seafood dinner  

Spend the day out experiencing the thrills of ice fishing in Montana. Trout, perch, kokanee, and Northern Pike are just some of the species that you can try and catch. For beginners, Flathead Lake Charters offers guided ice fishing right by Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort. 

Dog sledding and sleigh rides

dog sled adventures

  • Locations:  Dog Sled Adventures, Lone Mountain Ranch
  • Price range: $65 for a sleigh ride, $180 – $435 for dogsledding
  • Best for: People curious to try an Eskimo Roller Coaster or cozy up in a sleigh with their family 

You don’t have to travel to the North Pole for a horse-drawn sleigh ride, nor do you have to go to Alaska for a dog sled ride. Whether you want to be a spectator or experience these for yourself, there are plenty of opportunities throughout winter in Montana. 

Hot springs and spa experiences

jerry johnson hot springs
Image: Ed Wrzesien

While winters in Montana can be incredibly cold, there are several hot springs to keep you toasty and warm. You can rest assured that wherever you are in Montana, you’ll never be too far away from a hot spring where you can soak your muscles in.

Winter fat biking adventures

snow biking spots montana

Fat biking is one of the most popular pastimes in Montana because wide tires provide more traction on slippery terrain and allow you to pedal through the snow. First-timers can find plenty of groomed trails and easy terrain in Montana.

Ice skating at an outdoor rink

ice skating in montana

Ice skating is one of the most fun ways to stay active and enjoy the outdoors of Montana during the winter. Most of these outdoor rinks are accessible at any time and even free to use. 

Best Places to Visit in Montana During Winter

There’s something unmistakably magical about Montana during the coldest months of the year. Here are the top destinations in Montana that make it a magnificent winter wonderland unlike any other:

Yellowstone National Park

Der Yellowstone River südlich der Stadt Livingston im Bundesstaat Montana. Im Hintergrund die Berge der Absaroka Range, die zu den Rocky Mountains gehören.

While both Montana and Wyoming share different entrances to Yellowstone National Park, Montana offers the only Yellowstone access point open during the winter. Apart from the many types of winter activities, you can also find winter lodges with excellent accommodations for a winter vacation. 

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Travelers can glide by Avalanche Lake and Lake McDonald as they embark on a serene cross-country ski trip to Glacier National Park. It provides a fantastic opportunity to get away from it all and explore the national park via Nordic ski or snowshoe. 

Big Sky Resort

Gallatin River near Big Sky, MT. A popular river for cliff divers in Montana.

Big Sky Resort is one of the nuggets ski resorts in Montana that is highly beloved by tourists. Big Sky Mountain is fully equipped with state-of-the-art chair lifts and some of the most amazing ski runs in the US.

Whitefish Mountain Resort

Whitefish Lake, Montana Panorama

  • Address: 1015 Glades Dr, Whitefish, MT
  • Contact number: +1 406-862-2900
  • Price range: $73 – $97 
  • Best for: Those seeking a cozy ski destination  

You really get the feel for an authentic mountain ski town whenever you are in Whitefish Mountain Resort. Aside from snowboarding and skiing, guests can enjoy the remarkable lake views and easy access to the restaurants and bars along Main Street.

Bozeman Hot Springs

trips from bozeman

  • Address: 81123 Gallatin Rd, Bozeman, MT
  • Contact number: +1 406-586-6492
  • Price range: $25 – $28 
  • Best for: People looking to escape the cold winter air by taking a dip in the hot springs  

Bozeman Hot Springs has been responsible for heating the local bathhouse since the late 1800s. It’s a wonderful spot to soak in the steamy outdoor and indoor pools on a cold day.

Art House Cinema & Pub

  • Address: 109 N 30th St, Billings, MT
  • Contact number: +1 406-534-1128
  • Price range: $6 – $50 
  • Best for: Those interested in a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience 

Art House Cinema & Pub is a popular non-profit organization that shows a curated selection of both new and old films. Grabbing a drink and catching a movie at an independent theater in Montana is the perfect option when you’ve had enough of the cold.

Museum of the Rockies

moss mansion museum
Image: Onasill – Bill Badzo – 135
  • Address: 600 W Kagy Blvd, Bozeman, MT
  • Contact number: +1 406-994-2251
  • Price range: $12 – $20 
  • Best for: People looking for world-class exhibits along with the art, history, and culture of Montana.  

Museum of the Rockies is a great destination to escape the cold while getting to see all of the natural history of Montana. It is the best museum in the state and is committed to featuring native art as special collections and permanent exhibits. 

Popular Events

Montana hosts plenty of special events throughout the winter season in addition to all the regular attractions and activities. Let’s take a look at some of the most highly recommended festivals and happenings that will make your Montana winter vacation all the more memorable: 

Whitefish Winter Carnival

whitefish winter carnival

  • Location: Whitefish, Montana  
  • Price range: Free 
  • Schedule: January to early February 
  • Best for: People looking for an old-fashioned celebration of all things snow and ice   

Whitefish Winter Carnival pays homage to Ullr, the Norse god of winter activities, and celebrates the season with everything from ski races and ice sculpting to a hockey tournament the World SkiJoring Championships. 

Fun events such as a disco party, polar plunge, and gala will lead up to the Grand Parade in early February.  

Big Sky Winter Fest

big sky country state fair

  • Location: Big Sky, Montana 
  • Price range: $15 – $75 
  • Schedule: Early February  
  • Best for: Those seeking a family-friendly winter celebration in the heart of Big Sky 

Big Sky Winter Fest is a popular celebration of all things winter in Montana. Some of the most famous lineup of activities include live music, retro movie screenings, Viking Races, skijoring, ice sculptures, and many more! 

Yellowstone Ski Festival

yellowstone club ski resort
Image: Yellowstone Club Ski Resort
  • Location: West Yellowstone 
  • Price range: around $12 
  • Schedule: Week of Thanksgiving 
  • Best for: Those looking to experience a monumental winter tradition in Montana  

Nordic skiers from all around the US have gathered at West Yellowstone for over 40 years to take part in the Yellowstone Ski Festival. 

The event has tremendously grown from a fall training camp to a complete celebration with ski clinics, races, an indoor expo, and on-snow demonstrations.

Christmas Stroll in Downtown Bozeman


  • Location: Downtown Bozeman 
  • Price range: Free 
  • Schedule: Early December 
  • Best for: People looking to take in the Christmas spirit with their friends and family during winter in Montana  

The Annual Christmas Stroll has taken place for 43 years in Historic Downtown Bozeman. 

Visitors can enjoy an evening of great food, fun, and festive activities that include a Gingerbread House Contest, a lighting ceremony of downtown decorations, Christmas carols, and many more!

Montana Winter Fair

  • Location: Lewistown 
  • Price range: Free 
  • Schedule: Every 3rd week of January 
  • Best for: Those curious about Montana’s world-class agricultural production and lifestyle  

The Montana Winter Fair has been a local celebration of farm, family, and the Western way of life since 1946. 

Currently, the fair has 27 official events that include a chili cook-off, snowmobile shootout, Dutch oven cooking, home brew tasting, and the State Fiddle Contest to name a few.

Tips for Planning a Montana Winter Vacation

A winter getaway in Montana is not for the unprepared. To help ensure that you have your dream Montana winter vacation, we’ve rounded up some of the most crucial tips to apply in your planning process:

Best time to visit Montana during the winter season

The most ideal time to plan a winter vacation in Montana is between December and March

The latter months are when popular ski areas experience tons of snowfall but with more comfortable temperatures, while December to January is typically the snowiest and coldest in the state.  

What to pack for a winter vacation in Montana

When packing for a winter getaway in Montana, your top priority is how your gear can handle the weather. 

Remember to bring all of your warmest clothing, including accessories and footwear!

Since the weather can be unpredictable, make sure to have lighter-weight clothing that you can layer. 

How to get around Montana during the winter season

There are many options for public transport in Montana, but during winter, traveling via automobile is your best choice!

However, operating a vehicle during the winter season can be difficult and dangerous if you are not used to driving on ice. 

In most cases, snow tires or chains and a 4WD with high clearance are a must, especially if you’ll be driving through the mountains. 

Always make sure to check the weather and road conditions to ensure a safe and smooth winter excursion in Montana.  

Where to stay in Montana during the winter season

The types of accommodations that you’ll find in Montana range from charming bed and breakfasts and cozy lodges to first-rate resorts and historic hotels

For a truly magical home-away-from-home feel during the winter season in Montana, some of the best spots include: 

  • Dog Creek Lodge in Olney 
  • Northwest Montana Retreat in Troy 
  • ROAM Beyond in Whitefish
  • Old Faithful Snow Lodge in Yellowstone National Park
  • The Lodge at Trout Creek
  • Montana Treehouse Retreat in Columbia Falls 
  • Bitterroot River Ranch in Darby 
  • Relics Retreat in Eureka 
  • Sherman Lodge in Kalispell

About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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