Resorts in the Region

A roundup of notable ski areas worth a road trip

By Dillon Tabish

Whitefish Mountain Resort

Projected Opening Day: Dec. 7

Distance from Kalispell: 32 miles

Terrain: 3,000 acres

Single-Day Adult Lift Ticket: $76

One of the most popular ski areas in Montana, the former “Big Mountain” is celebrating 70 years of epic adventures this winter. The projections are bountiful this year and historically this resort gathers roughly 300 inches of snowfall each year. SKI Magazine readers named this local favorite as the 10th best ski resort in North America. This winter Chair 5 has been moved to East Rim and Ed and Mully’s and the Bierstube have undergone major renovations.

Turner Mountain: Libby

Projected Opening Day: Stay tuned!

Distance from Kalispell: 111 miles

Terrain: 400 acres

Single-Day Adult Lift Ticket: $37

This beloved ski area, located in the heart of the Kootenai National Forest, is steep and cheap. A board of directors runs the ski hill, which has just three paid employees. About 75 regular volunteers do the rest of the work and in return they get free season passes. The mountain is open to the public for three days a week – Friday through Sunday. The hill is also rented out to private parties for $3,750 a day. Get ready for another great winter with a kickoff party at the Red Dog Saloon on Dec. 2. Pizza and beverages will be served starting at 6 p.m.

Blacktail Mountain: Lakeside

Projected Opening Day: Stay tuned!

Distance from Kalispell: 28 miles

Terrain: 1,000 miles

Single-Day Adult Lift Ticket: $40

Just up the road from Lakeside, Blacktail Mountain often receives some of the best fresh snow in the region thanks to its location overlooking Flathead Lake. There is plenty of mountain to shred for any ability, especially intermediates, while the north-facing slopes keep the snow light and dry and help protect runs from wind.

Snowbowl: Missoula

Projected Opening Date: Dec. 2

Distance from Kalispell: 127 miles

Terrain: 1,138 acres

Single-Day Adult Lift Ticket: $47

A true college town ski area, Snowbowl offers a nice mixture of steep terrain and wide-open bowls. This mountain has 2,600 feet of continuous vertical drop and is served by four chairlifts. Eighty percent of the mountain is rated either moderate or expert, and the Grizzly Chair serves some of the fan favorites, such as Second Thought.

Lookout Pass: Mullan, Idaho

Projected Opening Date: Open!

Distance from Kalispell: 145 miles

Terrain: 540 acres

Single-Day Adult Lift Ticket: $44

Perched along Interstate 90 and straddling the Montana-Idaho border, this ski area is usually one of the first to open in the region thanks to its high elevation that attracts snow early and often. Lookout, which is open Thursday-Monday, receives roughly 400 inches of snow annually. There are two freestyle terrain parks and a quarter pipe spanning 1,111 feet in length. Skiers have 34 runs to choose from, including 30 percent that are rated advanced or expert.

Silver Mountain: Kellogg, Idaho

Projected Opening Date: Open!

Distance from Kalispell: 169 miles

Terrain: 1,600 acres

Single-Day Adult Lift Ticket: $55

This full-blown resort offers everything a family could want, including Idaho’s largest indoor water park, dining and lodging options and, oh yeah, pretty sweet skiing. Nestled in the Bitterroot Range in the panhandle of Idaho, this must-see destination offers 73 runs and three terrain parks. It annually receives 300 inches of snow.

Schweitzer: Sandpoint, Idaho

Projected Opening Date: Open!

Distance from Kalispell: 175 miles

Terrain: 2,900 acres

Single-Day Adult Lift Ticket: $77

Another grand resort worth taking the entire family to, Schweitzer has it all: 92 runs, two open bowls and picturesque views of Lake Pend Oreille and the mountainous landscape. For those wanting a break from the slopes, the village offers a full suite of lodging, shopping and dining accommodations, including the Chimney Rock Grill, Pucci’s Pub and Powderhound Pizza.

Fernie Alpine Resort: Fernie, B.C.

Projected Opening Date: Dec. 1

Distance from Kalispell: 116 miles

Terrain: 2,504 acres

Single-Day Lift Ticket: $99.95 CAD

Just across the Montana-Canadian border north of Eureka and located along Highway 3 — “The Powder Highway” — Fernie should be on any skier’s bucket list. Its five alpine bowls are the most in North America and there’s plenty of room for everybody to find their own stashes — 142 runs in all. The ski area is just up the road from the town, which was named one of the “Coolest Towns in North America” by Rolling Stone magazine.

Kimberley Alpine Resort: Kimberley, B.C.

Projected Opening Date: Dec. 9

Distance from Kalispell: 151 miles

Terrain: 1,800 acres

Single-Day Lift Ticket: $54 CAD

This scenic destination has been dubbed British Columbia’s sunniest ski resort. It’s known for its fluffy snow for riders of all abilities. It boasts the largest gladed terrain in North America with over 500 acres. There are over 80 runs to choose from, and plenty of resort amenities off the slopes, including the unique Bavarian-themed downtown.

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