Bridger Bowl in Montana is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. As part of a series on ski resorts, Huffington Post Travel offers our guide to Bridger Bowl, featuring all the key information snow lovers need to know before they hit the slopes.
The BasicsBridger Bowl, located on the eastern side of the Continental Divide in the Bridger Range, lies roughly 17 miles northeast of Bozeman, Montana. The affordable ski area enjoys heavy snowfall, which makes Bridger popular with locals, especially students from Montana State University in Bozeman. This more egalitarian approach to winter sports is in sharp contrast to Big Sky and Moonlight Basin ski areas, which are located in the Gallatin Mountains about 50 miles south-southwest of Bozeman and cater to a more upscale crowd. If you're planning to fly into Bozeman, Gallatin Field is located between Bozeman and Belgrade, only 24 miles from the ski area.
The MountainWith a base elevation of 6,100 feet and a summit elevation of 8,700 feet, Bridger Bowl has a vertical drop of 2,600 feet. The ski area's season generally runs from early December through early April, weather conditions permitting. Bridger is noted for its light, dry powder snow known as "cold smoke." The average annual snowfall at Bridger is 350 inches, ensuring good skiing conditions throughout the season. Because snowfall is generally heavy and dependable, the ski mountain's snowmaking capabilities are limited to only 4 percent of its 2,000 skiable acres. Ideal for skiers who enjoy a long and challenging trail, Bridger's longest run covers more than three miles.
Trails And LiftsWith 71 trails, Bridger Bowl boasts a variety of ski runs suited for skiers of all skill levels. In its analysis of Bridger's skiing trails, On the Snow rates 25 percent of them beginner trails, 35 percent intermediate, 30 percent advanced and 10 percent expert. Also available is a two-line terrain park that features a variety of rails, boxes and jams sure to challenge even the most proficient freestyle skiers and snowboarders. Providing skiers and boarders access to the mountain are seven lifts: one quad, three triples and three doubles. Popular with expert skiers are Bridger's Avalanche Gulch and the North Bowl. Extreme skiers may choose to explore Bridger's ridge terrain, which the ski area warns contains multiple steep chutes that may end in unmarked cliffs.
In The NewsBecause of its proximity to Montana State University, which conducts a nine-week, one-credit course on its slopes, Bridger has hosted the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Ski Championships several times. In keeping with its image as a mom-and-pop skiing area, Bridger Bowl is not high on the list of skiing venues for celebrities, who are more likely to be found at Big Sky or Moonlight Basin south of Bozeman. Action ski filmmakers Greg Stump and Warren Miller have both filmed extensively at Bridger.
CostFull-day lift tickets are $48 for adults ages 13 to 69, $16 for children 7 to 12, and $21 for seniors 70 to 79. Kids 6 and younger and seniors 80 and older ski free. Season passes are also available. Bridger's rental shop carries K2 alpine and Telemark skis and Nordica boots, as well as Burton snowboards and boots. A standard rental package (ski or snowboard) runs $25 per day for adults, $20 for juniors, $10 for children 6 and younger and $5 for seniors. Rental packages in excess of two days have a discounted daily rate. Group and private lessons are also available. Group lessons are $37, while private lessons cost $90.
Apres-SkiFood and beverage services are available at Bridger's three lodges: Jim Bridger Lodge, Saddle Peak Lodge and Deer Park Chalet. Jimmy B's Bar & Grill in the Jim Bridger Lodge has a full-service bar, stone fireplace and live music on weekends and holidays. Cafeteria food service is available in all three lodges. In Bozeman, popular hangouts include Plonk and the Pourhouse Bar & Grill.
WATCH: Bridger Bowl
The North Bowl offers challenging terrain for skiers at Montana's Bridger Bowl.