Are you one of those ski or boarding enthusiasts that miss the slopes all summer long? There are lots of us out there, and for many of us, the only way we get to ski in the summer is to hope for great winter snow that extends the season of our normal resorts into the early summer months of May and June.
However, if you are committed to finding great places to ski all year round, then you need to check out Beartooth Basin Ski Area. This hidden gem is one of the few summer ski resorts in North America.
Sitting along the Wyoming/Montana border at the Twin Lakes Headwall near Yellowstone National Park, this small ski area is the perfect place for ski and boarding fans to get a few more weeks of skiing each season.
The area was established in the mid-1960s and was originally a training ground for alpine ski racers, and it is considered one of the oldest alpine ski training grounds in North America.
Today, while the resort still hosts alpine training opportunities, it has become a mecca for skiers and boarders that want to get as much time on the slopes as possible.
Beartooth Basin Ski Area Statistics
- Summit Maximum Elevation: 10,900 feet
- Number of Trails: 9 designated trails, plus 3,000 vertical feet of shuttle or hike-in backcountry terrain.
- Number of Lifts: 2 Poma lifts
- Season: Summer (May – July)
- Trail Difficulty: Intermediate (30%) to Expert (60%)
Tickets and Passes at Beartooth Basin Ski
Beartooth Basin Ski Area has three different pass options: full-day, half-day and season passes. Current ticket and pass prices are some of the most affordable around, however, it is important to note that skiers and riders must be evaluated prior to purchasing a lift ticket to ensure that you meet their advanced to expert skill requirements.
Lift tickets and season tickets can be purchased online or in person at the ski area. However, the resort does not accept credit cards so if you are not buying your ticket online, make sure that you have plenty of cash to cover your lift tickets.
Also, be aware that the ski area does not offer refunds for online purchased tickets, so if it’s your first visit, or if you’re concerned about the road conditions getting to the ski area, wait to buy your tickets in person.
- Full-day Lift Ticket – $50
- Half-day (12-3 PM) – $40 (space permitting)
- Season Pass – $395
Accommodations at Beartooth Basin Ski
Beartooth Basin is about as primitive as you can get when it comes to accommodations and facilities. Many people describe the area as backcountry skiing with lifts.
Beartooth Basin Ski Area is about equal distance between Cooke City-Silver Gate, Montana, and Red Lodge, Montana. If you want to explore Yellowstone National Park while also checking out the summer skiing at Beartooth Basin, consider staying in Cooke City-Silver Gate.
These communities are located north of the park and are about an hour’s drive from Beartooth Basin. There are five lodging options in Cook City including a Super 8 Hotel. Do keep in mind that the proximity of Cook City to Yellowstone means that lodging may be limited in the summer months, so plan ahead.
If you want to skip out on the hustle and bustle around Yellowstone and go for a less touristy spot, try Red Lodge. This quaint community is approximately 40 minutes north of Beartooth Basin Ski Area.
Like Cook City, it is a small community and has 6 lodging options ranging from bed and breakfast style lodging to your standard Quality Inn.
In both communities, lodging rates range from $70 to $200 per night.
Trail Routes at Beartooth Basin Ski
Beartooth Basin is a very small ski area with only 600 acres of designated terrain, plus plenty of hike-in backcountry ski and board opportunities.
The ski area sits within the Twin Lakes Headwall area and offers bowl-type terrain. Within the 600 acres of the designated ski area, there are nine routes plus a new terrain park.
All visitors to Beartooth Basin must be evaluated by ski area staff to ensure that they are able to safely ski the area, due to its challenging terrain. A ski area map can be found here, and our list matches the numbered order of the routes on the map.
This route is the shallowest of the expert-level routes. It is accessed from Poma lift 1. Zipper is relatively free of rock outcrops and is a good line for intermediate skiers and riders that want to get more experience on expert-level runs.
This expert route becomes a bit more challenging with a steeper slope and a good size rock outcropping on the right side of the route. Chute 1 is relatively wide, so skiers and riders that want to avoid the rock should stay closer to the lift. This route ends at the bottom of Poma 1 lift.
Access Battleship by traversing the summit from the top of the Poma 1 lift. Battleship is one of the more technical of the routes at Beartooth, with large rock outcrops midway down the route. This trail is a favorite of extreme skiers who enjoy catching air.
If you like narrow chute runs, this expert run will be your favorite. This narrow chute is accessible by hiking the summit dropping in off the cornice. Chute 4 is pretty steep to start but shallows out as you get towards the bottom.
Not for the faint of heart, or the hiking adverse, Nikky’s route is super steep (50% grade), and very technical. Look for rock outcrops along the full length of this route. Access Nikky’s by traversing the summit and dropping in before the cornice gets big.
If you like big drop-ins, this is the route for you. However, you’ll have to hike a ways to get there. White Wall is the furthest from the Poma 1 lift, so you’ll have to make an effort to get here.
However, after your hike, you can enjoy a wide-open, steep run that is made for speed and turns. The cornice is at its largest at this route so enjoy the fast start.
If you’re not into extreme skiing or riding, but still want to enjoy the fun of Beartooth Basin, then you’ll really enjoy Little Austria. This route is accessible by taking Poma 1 to the summit and starting your ride down Zipper. Little Austria is relatively shallow but offers plenty of space for wide turns and a bit of speed.
Hit Lane 1 by taking Poma 2 to the middle of the hill. Running to the right of the lift Lane one is steep to start but flattens out a bit toward the bottom. Lane 1 is a bit narrow at the bottom, and you’ll find that it can be busy with other skiers/boarders wanting to hop on Poma 2.
Lane 2 runs down the left side of Poma 2 and is accessible from the top of Poma 2. You’ll start your run at the bottom of Chute 2 so expect this run to be a bit steeper at the start than either Little Austria or Lane 1. Lane 2 can be rough at the bottom but is wider than Lane 1 as you get back down to the Poma 2 base.
Big Air Park
For those that like to ride rails and have a bit of terrain park fun, Big Air Park has plenty to offer. The easiest way to get here, and to keep up speed is to take Poma 2 and traverse (carefully) across the bowl to the bottom of Nikky’s or White Wall. Big Air Park is one of the newest additions to Beartooth Basin.
Events at Beartooth Basin Ski
Because Beartooth Basin is not your typical ski area, and because its season is so short, it is not the place to go if you’re looking for special events. The ski area does not host annual events or special ski/ride days like many other ski areas or resorts.
Likely, this is because the ski area is so small, and it does not have facilities such as a main lodge or nearby accommodations for hosting “typical” ski resort events.
However, the ski area does offer the opportunity for ski/board teams and groups to rent hill space for training or ski racing throughout the season.
Team coaches or group leaders can contact the ski area directly for more information about renting hill space, and available times.