Montana is a great place for outdoor adventure at any time during the year. But something special happens when winter arrives, as residents and visitors alike gather their skis and snowboards and head for the mountain slopes.
The ski towns and resorts in this part of the world are renowned for their approach to snow-based pursuits, and the western side of the state is where most of the top ski resorts in Montana can be found.
10 of the Best Ski Resorts in Montana
- Big Sky Resort
- Blacktail Mountain Ski Area
- Montana Snow Bowl, Missoula
- Whitefish Mountain Resort
- Bridger Bowl, Bozeman
- Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area
- Red Lodge Mountain
- Discovery Ski Area
- The Great Divide Ski Area
- Showdown Montana
Big Sky Resort certainly lives up to its name with close to 6,000 vast acres of quality skiing terrain, accessible by more than 30 high-speed lifts. So even with the crowds of willing snow enthusiasts eager to take advantage of this outdoor wonderland, you’ll still never be that pushed for space.
The town of Big Sky is ideal for visitors looking for some outdoor adventure and is not too far from either Yellowstone National Park or Bozeman. Big Sky Resort is a ski destination for all-comers in that it caters for all levels – but in particular, anyone looking for vast terrain.
If you are looking for a unique skiing experience and you have a head for heights you can check out the Lone Peak Tram. It will elevate you to the area’s 11,000-foot summit where you’ll encounter some pretty amazing skiing terrain. In fact, the Big Sky terrain is so vast and diverse that you won’t even begin to traverse it in a single trip!
If you do get bored of skiing for any reason you might be pleased to know that Big Sky has other activities on offer such as dog-sledding and there are plenty of amenities in the surrounding mountain areas of the resort by way of restaurants, lodges, and other forms of accommodation.
Winter brings with it all kinds of events like live music and festivals, which won’t be too far away from the resort.
The Blacktail Mountain resort comprises over 1,000 acres of prime ski terrain and is located within the Flathead National Forest. It is thus fairly close to the west side of Flathead Lake, which adds to the natural and open feel of the place.
With the natural expanse of the surrounding environment, you are guaranteed some impressive views from this area, especially on those perfectly crisp, clear winter days. Here you can expect winding, tree-lined trails with fresh, untouched powder if you time it right, with some nice photographic opportunities to boot.
The Lodge at Blacktail features a range of on-site dining options that won’t break the bank, as well as a fireplace to warm the cockles of the heart after hitting the slopes.
Just outside the lively university town of Missoula, Montana Snow Bowl offers mountain terrain ideal for more intermediate and advanced-level skiers and snowboarders.
The routes and trails are typically a bit more on the steep side than those of the average resort. This means that the place does tend to attract a particular type of clientele, but the vibe is pretty friendly and laid-back. And it is certainly less crowded than any of the places catering to all levels.
Snowbowl is also a favorite local ski resort, and its many skiable acres of winding tree-lined routes became even more accessible in 2020 when a new chairlift was introduced. If you like the idea of steep and fast-paced ski areas more than the odd challenging run, then you’ll love this place.
As Missoula is Montana’s second-largest city it has much to offer in terms of extra-curricular activities by way of some of the many local hangouts. Montana Snowbowl is just a short drive from downtown Missoula, which is ideal for visitors looking to sample the vibe of the town after a day on the slopes.
Whitefish Mountain Resort is right next to Glacier National Park in Montana’s northwest region. Here you’ll find around 3,000 skiable acres serviced by 10 chairlifts. The slopes offer plenty of space and diversity, with the added bonus of some impressive views of Glacier National Park on clear days, as well as the northern Rockies.
This is another one of the bigger resorts that tend to feature a wide variety of events and live music during the winter season. It comprises four main areas of terrain that have all levels of participant covered as well as some mean powder, and the resort has been named as a top ski town by various prominent ski magazines over the years.
Whitefish resort town has plenty of charm and character, and no shortage of places to eat, drink, or lodge. In fact, there are endless options for refueling or relaxing after a hard day on the slopes, and the Lodge at Whitefish Lake is a pretty popular option for a place to stay in the area.
Bridger Bowl comprises over 2,000 acres of diverse, skiable terrain. There is a stretch to suit every level of skier or snowboarder, although some of the area is a bit on the steep side. This means some of the routes and trails might require a bit of technical skill more akin to advanced skiers.
Bridger Bowl is just 30 minutes down the road from the center of the University town of Bozeman. The ski resort is popular with both visitors and locals, including many of the college’s students. Bozeman itself is a pretty laid-back and walking-friendly town with its own local breweries and plenty of entertainment and eatery options.
The resort has eight chair lifts to help with the flow of visitors, and there are also various useful aspects such as is also a ski and snowboard school which is ideal for beginners, and a day-care facility that allows parents with young ones to hit the slopes.
You’ll also find two lodges around the base of the mountain with various amenities to accommodate skiers with rental equipment and anyone looking for refreshment in the cafeteria or restaurant.
Because of its location on the Montana/Idaho border, Lookout Pass comprises slopes that are in both states. You can find the Lookout Pass near the border off Interstate 90, and it could be well worth the effort as it frequently receives more snow than any other ski resort in Montana.
Lookout Pass has also gained something of a reputation over the years for being a family-friendly and affordable place to ski in the Montana area. The ski terrain is varied enough to accommodate different skill levels, and there is also a fairly well-known Ski School for kids that is actually free.
The resort features 3 terrain parks with varying degrees of difficulty. Both beginners and high-fliers will find something to suit within them, and one includes a 1,000-foot-long quarter pipe.
Red Lodge ski town is probably one of the lesser-known or more understated Montana skiing regions, even though it has much to offer. The town itself is situated close to the eastern side of the Beartooth Mountain Range, and it’s safe to say that a high proportion of the people in the region are skiers or snowboarders of some description. In fact, this is reportedly the only town that still has available skiing options in the summertime, up on the Beartooth Pass.
If you are looking for backcountry classic Montana experience on and around the slopes you won’t go far wrong with Red Lodge. Close to the Wyoming border and Yellowstone National Park in the South-Central region of Montana, Red Lodge Mountain features some impressive big mountain terrain. Covering an area of 1,600 acres, skiers and snowboarders both old and new love the laid-back vibe of the whole region, not to mention its impressive scenery and views.
That said, the best stretches of the mountain are most suited to the more intermediate and advanced skier or boarder, although there are a few less challenging runs towards the lower reaches of the mountain to accommodate beginners and newcomers.
Skiers and snowboarders alike love the three different terrains of this resort in the Anaconda region of the Rocky Mountains. The slopes and trails set among more than 2,000 acres offer enough variation to accommodate all levels of outdoor snow enthusiasts and also include 20-odd miles of cross-country terrain.
The stretches of groomed, skiable terrain at Discovery wind through winter forest areas not too far from both Echo Lake and Georgetown Lakes. There are two inbound-facing parks in the area and the slopes and tree-lined routes are easy to identify in terms of difficulty or suitability for each level.
There are wide ranges of lodging options available in the Anaconda area as well as in Philipsburg and Georgetown Lake. You can explore the friendly towns and various other leisure and entertainment activities that they offer after an enlivening day on the slopes.
Set in over 1,600 acres, the Great Divide Ski Area is located around 20 miles from the Montana capital, Helena. Here you’ll find a locally owned mountain and ski area that comprises a broad range of different terrain to suit all-comers. There is also a ski and snowboard school of some repute that is ideal for beginners.
Like many of the other smaller, family-run concerns, The Great Divide is good for families and also works out quite a bit cheaper than many of the bigger resorts. So it’s not surprising that this place is a popular weekend family getaway for both locals and visitors.
If you hit the Mount Belmont chairlift you’ll find all the standard routes, but the less-used Wild West chairlift puts you in the vicinity of various blue and black diamond routes if that’s more your thing.
10. Showdown Montana
Showdown Montana in Neihart is one of the oldest existing ski areas in the state. This is another family-friendly resort family and attracts both locals and visitors alike.
The resort features a summit of more than 8000 feet with more than 30, variously-challenging runs serviced by three chairlifts and a conveyor.
Showdown gets busy at weekends during the peak winter season, and Wednesday is a better option to try and avoid potential crowds. The resort operates between Wednesday and Sunday, and there is an on-site grill house, a coffee bar, and a saloon. Lodging can be found relatively easily if required to the northern region of the mountain and surrounding areas.