While crews load the orange and white gondolas on the Big Mountain Express today, snows still linger on mountain slopes. But Whitefish Mountain Resort is poised to crank the lift into operation Saturday morning for the first day of its summer season.
As white snow patches melt from valley-facing slopes, northern bowls still look wintry. Those hiking the mountain this week before opening attest to a good five feet of snow on the north side. While the Danny On Trail is open, hikers should be prepared to slog half of the four miles on snow.
In the Summit House, the restaurant begins its food service Saturday, and Flathead National Forest naturalists will open the Summit Nature Center. Along with educational wildlife displays, nature center exhibits feature the Inspiration from the Forest art show from the Artist-Wilderness-Connection program. Families can reserve a free adventure pack full of field guides and materials to explore the ecosystem. The center also inaugurates its new Junior Ranger Program. Kids ages 7-12 can earn official Junior Forest Ranger badges and certificates by completing an activity book.
Down in the village, several restaurants plan to open for the summer. The Bierstube will serve food and brews Wednesdays through Sundays, 4 – 10 p.m. Ed and Mully’s will also dish up a daily lunch barbecue. Also opening are Aunt B’s, Hellroaring Saloon, Kandahar Lodge, and Good Medicine Espresso.
Due to snow, only lower elevation mountain bike trails can be ridden. But as soon as snows melt, crews will construct the new downhill mountain bike trail dropping through North Bowl and below Russ’s Street back to the Chair 1 plaza. Later this summer, a trials park will also be built in the plaza.
Two new free nine-hole disc golf courses are being installed between the Chalet and day lodge. Maps will be available in the next couple weeks when the courses are completed.
Beginning Saturday, June 21, the lift operates daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through September 7. Call 862-2900 for more information. Check rates for bike rentals and the lift at www.skiwhitefish.com.
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