Sometimes, you just don’t want to deal with the big ski resorts and would rather enjoy a day of skiing or boarding in someplace smaller, with a cool, local vibe. Discovery Ski Area is just that, and we love spending a day enjoying all that this small, but fun ski area has to offer.
Located in the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest just a short drive from Philipsburg, MT, and Georgetown Lake, Discovery Ski Area is really a great family-friendly ski area that offers a wide range of terrain for beginners to expert skiers and riders.
While this ski area doesn’t get tons of snow each season (215” on average), it does tend to be one of the first areas to open in the fall and one of the last to close in the summer.
This isn’t one of your normal ski resorts, Discovery doesn’t have slope-side homes or lodging, and you won’t find shopping or fancy dining options here. But if you’re looking for a great place to ski and board, Discovery won’t disappoint.
Discovery Ski Area Statistics
- Summit Maximum Elevation: 8,150 feet
- Number of Trails: 67 trails
- Number of Lifts: 8 (5 triple lifts, 2 double lifts, 1 surface lift)
- Season: Fall/Winter/Spring (Oct – Jun)
- Trail Difficulty: Beginner (20%), Intermediate (25%), Expert (55%)
Tickets and Passes at Discovery Ski Area
Discovery Ski Area has a variety of ticket and pass options depending on how much you want to ski and how long you’re planning to enjoy the area. Locals love the season pass option because it pays for itself after just 10 days of skiing or riding.
We also really love the 5-Pack passes that allow you to ski or ride 5 days during the season, and they don’t have to be consecutive days.
Discovery recently updated their pass and ticket system to an RFID system. Instead of the old-fashioned paper ticket, skiers and riders will receive a ticket card. This card is scanned at the lift turn-styles for access to lift lines. The great thing about the ticket card is that they are reusable all season.
Another great perk? Kids under 5 can ski for free. For complete pass and ticket information or to purchase passes please visit the Discovery Ski Area site.
- Full-day Lift Ticket – $68 (adult), $35 (Kids 12 and under), $54 (Seniors over 65)
- Half-day – $56
- 5–Pack Pass – $240 (Adult), $210 (Senior), $125 (Kids)
- Season Pass – $645 (Adult), $480 (Adult Weekday), $635 (Senior), $305 (Kids), $250 (College Student)
Accommodations at Discovery Ski Area
Since Discovery Ski Area isn’t a resort you won’t find any slope-side lodging, ski-in condos. However, you don’t have to drive a long way to get a comfortable bed and a fun Montana town experience.
Discovery Ski Area has partnered with a number of lodging options in the towns of Philipsburg and Anaconda and some nice spots around Georgetown Lake. The partner resorts and hotels offer lodging and lift-ticket packages that are really great deals.
However, not everyone wants to stay in town, and the partner lodging does tend to fill up quickly, especially on holiday weekends and during Christmas and New Year. Along Highway 1 and around Georgetown Lake you’ll also find a variety of campgrounds if you prefer to “rough it” instead of staying in a hotel.
Trail Routes at Discovery Ski Area
Discovery Ski Area has four major routes that are accessible from the 8-lifts. While the area has beginner to expert runs, not all routes or lifts have runs for every skill level. Check the trail map before heading out so you don’t get stuck in a place you can’t manage.
The Front Side at Discovery is serviced by five lifts (Anaconda, Rumsey, Easy, Totemoff and Jubilee). The Front Side is the most easily accessible and is home to the base lodge, ticket office, ski school and equipment rentals. The Front Side has a variety of trails to fit the needs of the whole family. You’ll find short and easy runs on this side including Britton and Mungas that are perfect for beginners but also fun for more experienced skiers.
The top of the Jubilee lift starts you on some of the longest runs on the Front Side, the Sapphire and Gold Bug runs are great for families. Gold Bug is wide open and perfect for new skiers who want to perfect their turning skills.
The Front Side isn’t just for beginners, however. Intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders will really enjoy the variety of trails accessed from the Anaconda and Rumsey lifts.
Silver Bow is great for advanced riders that like the steeps but aren’t quite ready for the backside of the mountain. Berkeley and Atlantic Cable runs are a nice way for intermediate skiers and riders to start honing their skills and gaining comfort on more challenging terrain.
Granite and Silver Chief
Drop over the backside from the top of Anaconda and Rumsey lifts onto the backside of Discovery. From the Granite and Silver Chief lifts, intermediate to expert riders will find tons of challenging terrain. Bring your lunch if you’re skiing or riding the backside of Discovery because, with tons of steeps, you’ll not want to head back to the front until your day is done.
From the Granite lift, you’ll find a few fun intermediate trails like Winning Ridge and Boiler Maker. These runs are marked intermediate, but they are really on the verge of being advanced runs.
The top of the Granite life will also drop you into expert runs like Mother Load and Good Finger, and give you access to the Limelight Lift. If you’re heading for the Limelight lift, be advised that this half of the backside is expert runs only.
Silver Chief Lift stops at the bottom of Winning Ridge. The area serviced by the Silver Chief lift is only accessible during certain times of the year, and only on Saturday and Sundays in the afternoon. However, this small area on the backside of Discovery has some great beginner to advanced runs. And while we say there are beginner runs here, you should be advised that this area is best for skiers and boarders that are intermediate to advanced since there is not a beginner run to get you to the base of the Silver Chief lift.
If you love skiing or riding bowls and steeps with tons of challenges, then the Limelight lift is where you’ll want to spend your day at Discovery. Limelight lift gives you access to nothing by expert runs at Discovery.
This area is called the East Bowl, and it’s an expert’s paradise. Runs in the East Bowl are steep, narrow, and have plenty of opportunity for tree skiing. Watch for rocks and other obstructions in most of the runs in the East Bowl.
For skiers and riders that want to enjoy riding rails, jumps, and boxes, Discovery offers two terrain parks. The Sunnyvale terrain park for intermediate riders and skiers is located on the Sapphire run, accessible from the Jubilee lift. This park has larger, more advanced features. It is also only open Thursday through Sunday.
Beginners who are just getting started in the terrain park will find the Pentecost terrain park, a perfect place to hone their skills. Open every day, this beginner terrain park has plenty of fun features, and is interesting enough for even advanced terrain park riders. This terrain park is located on the Gold Bug trail which is accessible from the Jubilee lift.
While Discovery is a favorite hang-out for locals in the winter and is a great spot for visitors that want a less hectic ski experience, its fun doesn’t end just because the snow is gone.
Summertime visitors will enjoy Discovery’s downhill bike park. Located at the Silver Chief lift, this area is accessible from Rumsey Road, with parking at the Silver Chief lot. Downhill riders will enjoy an easy ride up the mountain on the Silver Chief lift and then a fun, fast ride back down through the area’s bike park. Passes to ride the lift and enjoy the park are $38 for a full day of riding.
Events at Discovery Ski Area
Prior to COVID-19 Discovery Ski Area played host to a variety of ski clinics, benefit ski days, and even classes on avalanche safety.
However, for the 2021-22 season, they do not have any events listed on their website or Facebook page. If you want to experience an event at Discovery Ski Area, check their website often for updates and new information.