The best ski towns in Montana are a perfect representation of what is so appealing about the state. With abundant space for outdoor adventures, friendly people, and beautiful scenery, the Big Sky State never disappoints.
A prime place to visit and spend a few days on the slopes, these locations in Montana are worthy of your attention for more than just a vacation. In fact, you might find that one of them is such a good fit that you decide to make it your new home. So whether you’re scheduling your next epic ski trip, or you planning to set down new roots in an adventurous Montana town, these are among the best places to do it.
Here are the top ski towns in Montana to live and visit, in no particular order:
If you’ve never visited Montana and want an experience that will immediately expose you to what it’s truly like, Kalispell is a great starting point. Found just north of Flathead Lake, Kalispell – and other nearby towns such as Evergreen, Somers, and Whitefish – is a wonderful place for a ski vacation.
The town itself is large enough to provide visitors with plenty of dining and lodging options, yet Mother Nature’s glory is never far away. As for skiing and snowboarding, you’ll have two choices: Blacktail Mountain and Whitefish Mountain. Both are just a short drive from town, the former to the south and the latter to the north.
Blacktail Mountain’s most notable feature is the fact that skiers start at the top of the mountain rather than the bottom. When you arrive at the lodge, you’ll be looking down at the slopes below you, and will be able to get started right away. Of course, there are a variety of chairs to help you get back up to the top after your first run, including two double chairs and one triple.
Boasting starting elevation of 6,780’ at the top of the mountain, the ski area includes 1,440’ of vertical drop. While all levels of skiers are welcome at Blacktail Mountain, the runs definitely favor those who are more experienced on the slopes.
If you want plenty of room and more than 100 named runs to try out, you’ll love the experience you have at Whitefish Mountain. In total, there are approximately 3,000 acres to explore, including many diamond and double-diamond runs. Speaking of the size of this destination, there are 11 chairs that serve the property, along with two T-bars and a conveyor carpet.
The summit here is only slightly higher than at Blacktail – 6,817’ – but there’s significantly more vertical drop, with more than 2,300’ vertical feet separating the top from the base.
While we are highlighting the skiing near Kalispell, you don’t have to stay directly in town during your visit. Specifically, Whitefish Mountain has some excellent lodging options within walking distance of the chairlifts, so you may consider booking a room that will leave you as close to the slopes as possible for the duration of your trip.
Getting There: When coming from out of state, flying into Missoula will be the best option. From there, it’s only a two-hour (or so) drive north to reach the Kalispell area. Once in Kalispell, Blackfish Mountain is a 45-minute drive south, while Whitefish Mountain is a 90-minute drive north.
With a population of around 10,000 people, Anaconda is certainly not the smallest town you’ll encounter in Montana. Only a short drive off of I-90 and rests just eight miles from the Continental Divide, you should consider adding it Montana skiing adventure because of the easy access it provides to the Discovery Ski Area.
Park Avenue serves as the town’s main area and you’ll find a couple of small casinos for nighttime entertainment, along with local dining and the historic Washoe Theatre. Whatever type of skiing or boarding you happen to enjoy, you’re likely to find some runs that suit your style when visiting Discovery Ski Area.
Some of the important stats to note include:
- A summit elevation of over 8,100’
- A vertical drop of nearly 2,400’
- 2,200 acres of in-bounds skiing to explore
One of the strengths of Discovery is the very even distribution of run difficulties, making this an excellent place to visit for families and other parties that need varied runs to please everyone in the group.
Getting There: Anaconda is only a 90-minute drive southeast of Missoula – mostly on I-90 – so flying into Missoula is a good option when coming from far away. The location of Anaconda within Montana also makes it a reasonable drive from larger cities in the region. For instance, it’s just 6.5 hours from Boise and 4.5 hours from Spokane.
Red Lodge, MT
To be fair, the claim to fame for Red Lodge, Montana is not world-class skiing. Instead, it’s the access that this small town provides to the incredible Yellowstone National Park. Connected to the park by Beartooth Highway, one of the most dramatic, visually stunning drives in the entire country, it’s a mistake to overlook this area for a ski trip.
Red Lodge Mountain is just a short drive to the west of town, and you might be surprised at the impressive ski area that waits to be uncovered in this rural setting. The ski area is split between Grizzly and Nichols Peaks, and the season usually stretches from around Thanksgiving to early April. Just be ready for the thin air since most of the runs are at significant elevations.
After riding the chair up to the top of Grizzly Peak, you’ll be standing more than 9,400’ above sea level. From there, roughly 2,000’ vertical feet of skiing await back down to the base elevation of 7,433’. This is an excellent destination for experienced skiers who like a challenge, with several double-diamond runs featured on the property.
Once you are worn out from a long day of skiing, you’ll have plenty waiting for you back in town. Despite the very modest size of the town – it has just 2,257 permanent residents as of 2o20 – there’s a lot to do and see. Thanks to the consistent traffic that flows through the town during the summer tourism season, there are plenty of restaurants and nightlife spots to check out.
Getting There: If your plans include flying into Montana for this trip, Billings Logan International Airport should be your choice. Most major airlines serve this airport, and once in Billings, you will only be a one-hour drive to the south away from reaching Red Lodge.
If you’re as interested in having plenty to do after the sun goes down after spending a day enjoying quality runs, Missoula would be a smart destination. This is a college town, serving as home to the University of Montana, so there are plenty of great local establishments for food and drinks.
Also, as is usually the case in college towns, plenty of hotels and other lodging options are found in and around the city. The closest option to Missoula for skiing is the Montana Snowbowl. While this isn’t the biggest ski hill you’ll find in the state, it’s easily accessible and offers plenty of enjoyable runs.
This is also a nice place to take a group with mixed skill levels, as there are some exciting black diamond runs along with some gentle green trails down closer to the base. On-site equipment rental is available at the Montana Snowbowl, and there are a couple of small restaurants on hand to grab a bite between runs or after you’ve hung up the skis for the day.
Getting There: If you plan to fly into Montana for your ski trip, Missoula International Airport is the obvious choice. Those who live in the region and want to drive into Missoula will use I-90 from the east or west, while I-15 is the primary path to take from the south.
If you were to rank all 50 states in terms of opportunities for outdoor adventure, Montana would find itself at or near the top. All of the aforementioned ski towns are all worth a closer look to see if one or more of them would be a good fit for your next trip. And who knows – you may like your experience so much that it becomes your new home rather than a place you visit from time to time.
Either way, Montana offers experiences that will create lifetime memories, such as its natural hot springs and landmarks. We hope you are able to get out and explore it this ski season.