If you haven’t skied or snowboarded in Whitefish Montana, then you might not know why it is so special.
(Photo: Ed’s Run Jesus Statue view from the top – Chair #2)
I grew up in northern Michigan skiing short, groomed runs that by mid-day would either be icy or full of moguls. Not much different from places like Vermont and New Hampshire which I was also lucky enough to experience. Later, I moved to Oregon and loved boarding at Mt. Bachelor and Mt. Hood. Both uniquely different but that is where I started to understand the difference on how regions can make on snow conditions. Mt. Bachelor sees a lot more sun on the daily and Mt. Hood can be absolutely haunting after a lot of snow. That drive up to the main lodge is an experience in itself. With 20-foot snowdrift walls surrounding your drive, it does look a lot like the movie The Shining (which is where they filmed parts of the movie).
In my twenties and thirties, I found myself in northern California. Skiing in Lake Tahoe was a whole different experience. More built up “resorts” with ski villages, shops and condos. If Tahoe receives a fresh snow dump, then it can be magical but the snow can be very heavy (often called Sierra cement) and a lot of work to move through. It also gets tracked out very quickly. You really need to be on the slopes at opening time and plan to be done around noon. Unless of course you don’t care too much about conditions. Then, there are the very long lines. I am hearing from several skiers across the nation (and worldwide) that lift lines are just too much basically everywhere. That was my experience in both California and in Steamboat Springs, Colorado when I visited.
Fast forward to Whitefish Montana and my first experience skiing here, which was very different than anywhere else. Whitefish Mountain Resort is so fun to just drive up to and see even if you don’t ski. I have never been to the Swiss Alps, but some of the views you see make me think of what I imagine the Swiss Alps to look like. I am told from visitors who stay with us from Switzerland that the Alps have less trees as the mountain peaks are made up of a lot of rock versus our lush pines. If you are lucky enough to catch it on a blue-sky day, I highly recommend you take Chair 1 to the Summit. The views are 360 degrees and are breathtaking. Snow covered Rocky Mountain peaks surround you and go as far as the eye can see. If you do not ski and just want to ride the lift up to check it out, you can purchase a Scenic Lift Ticket in both Winter or Summer for less cost than a daily lift ticket (which is roughly $85-90).
Here are some stats about Whitefish Mountain Resort:
Summit elevation: 6,817 feet
113 named trails spanning roughly 3,000 acres (and lots of tree skiing)
Longest Run: Hell Fire – intermediate trail stretching 2.52 miles
I recently sent a newsletter to our followers describing the many different conditions that I’ve encountered up at Whitefish Mountain Resort. If you are a local and ski Big Mountain (aka Whitefish Mountain Resort) regularly, one thing you can count on is fog and low visibility. So having a lens for your ski goggles that provides higher contrast is a must. Fortunately, the mountain has so many different tree skiing options for escaping the fog with the added bonus of finding powder stashes. Some of my favorite spots are Flower Point (Chair #11) and under the new high-speed six-man chair lift Snow Ghost Express (Chair #4).
Other conditions worth noting: Inversion. Inversion is something that occurs when the thick clouds can be seen down in the town below but the ski slopes are above the clouds with perfect visibility.
Rime – ever heard of it? I had never until I skied here in Whitefish. Be sure to bring a credit card with you in the case that Rime occurs. It is basically this coating of ice that can build up on your goggle making it really hard to see unless you scrape it off.
Below 0 temps – this does happen, although not frequently. If it falls below -10 or the windchill falls much below that, the resort may choose to close the lifts for safety purposes. Particularly if it is windy. Luckily temps like this don’t typically hang for more than a day or two, so when it does just be educated on how to stay warm. We will go out sledding or ice skating (indoors at the Stumptown Ice Den) or you can choose to spend that day cozied up next to the fire. There are high risks with frostbite, so make sure that if you do go outside, you keep your skin covered. Invest is a thin hat to go under your helmet and a good neck warmer is key. If the lifts are running and it’s very cold, we don’t to plan to stay out for too long as we take lots of fun hot cocoa breaks. The snow tends to be very light and fluffy on colder days, so still worth getting out and experiencing it.
Snow Ghosts – these beautiful and unusual snowy ghosts develop from snow collecting on the large pines up near the Summit. Just ride chair #1 up the top and get your camera ready. They are a huge part of the beautiful snowy landscape, and we love them!
There is another major perk to skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort – the lack of lines waiting to jump onto a lift. It is still something that blows my mind. Back to my earlier days skiing in Michigan and we are talking 20+ years ago, I remember the lines being really long. In California, same long lines. Sometimes it would take me 2 hours just to take my first run! I experienced the same in Colorado and I hear many resorts are just like this now. With exception to busy short-lived moments that can take place on weekends or holidays, the lift lines are practically nonexistent. I tend to zip up to the resort (which is only a 15 drive from our Bed & Breakfast) and can get 10 runs in under 3 hours. It is awesome. With no one in chairs like 2, 5, 4 and 11 – you can feel like you own the mountain. It is so freeing, humbling and magical.
-There is a free S.N.O.W. bus that will shuttle you from Good Medicine Lodge (stop is right out front) up to Whitefish Mountain Resort – runs approximately every 30-40 minutes.
-Daily Lift Tickets – are very reasonably priced at around $85 – 90 (call us if interested in discounted lift tickets – we sell them onsite)
There is so much good stuff to share about this resort, I could go on and on. If you have any questions or want to learn more, feel free to call us and we are happy to help you plan your trip.
Check out our Things To Do page for ski rental vendors and other fun winter activities.