Whitefish Mountain Resort: A Huffington Post Travel Ski Resort Guide
Whitefish Mountain Resort 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 Whitefish Mountain Resort, featuring all the key information snow lovers need to know before they hit the slopes.
The BasicsWhitefish Mountain Resort is eight miles north of Whitefish on Big Mountain in northwest Montana. Its 14 lifts bring skiers and snowboarders to 3,000 acres of terrain for every level of skill, from beginner to double black diamond. Kalispell's Glacier Park International Airport is a mere 19 miles away. Another big airport is Missoula International, 138 miles to the south. Travel by train is an affordable option, since the Amtrak Empire Builder stops at the Whitefish Depot, arriving from Seattle to the west or Chicago and Minneapolis to the east.
The MountainGuests are over a mile high at the 6,817-foot summit of Big Mountain, which has a 2,353-foot vertical drop. Average annual snowfall is 300 inches, with an average daily high temperature of 32 degrees. According to the resort, "vast amounts of bowl and tree skiing" await skiers and snowboarders, with 15 percent of the trails marked for beginners, 35 percent intermediate, 40 percent advanced and 10 percent expert.
Trails And LiftsBig Mountain's 98 marked trails are mapped out in three areas: Front Side, North Side and Hellroaring. Folks contemplating a visit can check out the resort website for views of these areas, including lift routes and trails as well as lift schedules. Four Fishbowl Terrain Parks will entertain those who like to snowboard. Big Mountain's longest run is the intermediate-level, 3.3-mile Hellfire trail, pictured on the Hellroaring map.
In The NewsWhitefish Mountain Resort hosts its own racing team, the Whitefish Mountain Resort Ski Racing Program, which trains skiers from age 5 to ski competitively, as well as the Whitefish Mountain Resort Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Team, which promotes "freeskiing" among its 40-plus members. The resort has recently become embroiled in controversy over its so-called Big Mountain Jesus, a religious statue on territory technically owned by the U.S. Forest Service. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has argued that the decades-old, Knights of Columbus-erected statue be removed.
CostA one-day ticket for an adult costs $66. Children 6 and younger, and seniors 70 and older ski free. A variety of season passes are available as well, ranging from free, for children and seniors, to $1,085 for adults. Lessons are offered including one particularly good deal for first-timers called "Learn to Ski/Ride," in which $72 buys two half-day lessons, two days of equipment rental and two days of lower-level lift tickets.
Apres-SkiThere are plenty of lodging choices on the mountain and in picturesque Whitefish. The same goes for dining options at both the resort and in Whitefish, with free bus transportation to eliminate driving worries. Both skiers and non-skiers alike can ride the lift to the top of Big Mountain to enjoy Moonlight Dine and Ski at Summit House, then ski or take the lift back down. The resort recommends diners dress for Montana winter with one piece of advice: "Please, no high heels!"
WATCH: Whitefish Mountain Resort
Big Mountain gives skiers and snowboarders plenty of space to cut trails.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story mentioned the USTSA's 2012 Telemark race, which was subsequently canceled due to insufficient snowfall. The story has been updated to reflect this information.