Winter Preview 2017

Even during the dark days of winter, the Flathead Valley has an abundance of activities and festivities to fill the season. Check out our 2017 guide to all things winter.

By Beacon Staff
A snowboarder carves through powder in the backcountry west of Whitefish. Beacon File Photo

In these mountainous coves of the Rockies, winter can be a guessing game that changes from one moment to the next. Yes, it will be cold and dark, but what about a sudden snowstorm? Will a bluebird powder day arrive like a holiday gift, or will Mother Nature turn stingy with snow and blanket the region in grey?

Adding to the anticipation this year is the ultimate weather wild card – La nina.

La Nina is a term for the occasional, natural cooling of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which has a worldwide effect on weather and can lead to a wetter, colder winter than average.

Whether that forecast comes true in the coming weeks and months is, as always, a guessing game. Only time will tell.

As winter settles in, the Beacon has organized a guide for all the various ways to make the most of the season. From top-notch skiing opportunities to seasonal events, Nordic skiing and other outdoor pursuits to the region’s best apres options, the Flathead Valley has plenty to offer.


Hellroaring Saloon at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Beacon File Photo

The Ultimate Apres Ski Guide

After a long day schussing snow, the Flathead Valley features a glut of après options

By TRISTAN SCOTT of the Beacon

There’s something infinitely satisfying about the exhilaration of charging steep lines, lapping lifts bell-to-bell and laughing through face shots with friends — an unrivaled mix of adrenaline, exhaustion and unadulterated fun that every powder hound seeks out with gusto.

And yet, it just wouldn’t be the same without the allure of the après, an enticing end-of-the-day incentive looming just beyond the next roller, promising decadent rewards and rich returns.



Gauge Acton reacts after coming out of the water during annual Penguin Plunge at Whitefish Lake. Beacon File Photo

Can’t-Miss Events: Winter 2017-18

From Whitefish to Bigfork to Bad Rock Canyon, the Flathead Valley has a lively schedule of fun, family-friendly festivities

By MOLLY PRIDDY of the Beacon

With winter approaching, it can be hard remember there’s time for anything other than getting ready for the hustle and bustle of family, friends, snow, food, and fun.

But the Flathead Valley has a vibrant lineup of community events that shouldn’t be missed, reminding us to take a moment to spend time with our community and neighbors while participating in well-worn seasonal traditions.



Resorts in the Region

A roundup of notable ski areas worth a road trip

By DILLON TABISH of the Beacon

Whitefish Mountain Resort

Projected Opening Day: Dec. 7

Distance from Kalispell: 32 miles

Terrain: 3,000 acres

Single-Day Adult Lift Ticket: $76



Snowmobilers begin their journey through the Flathead National Forest at the Canyon Creek Trail Head. Beacon File Photo

Flathead National Forest’s Abundant Snowmobile Trails

More than 800,000 acres of forestland available for snowmobilers

By DILLON TABISH of the Beacon

Flathead National Forest is home to 157 miles of designated snowmobile trails and 800,000 acres of suitable public land for motorized use.



Susie Ruffatto skis with her dog Charlie during the winter trails day event at Stillwater Nordic Center west of Whitefish. Beacon File Photo

Nothin’ But Nordic

The Flathead Valley is a gateway to a glut of options for exploring the forests on cross-country skis

By TRISTAN SCOTT of the Beacon

Don’t let the allure of the chairlift obscure the flurry of cross-country ski options in the Flathead Valley and beyond.

There’s no debate about the positive health benefits of Nordic skiing, and the intense but low-impact, total-body workout is the perfect excuse to take a day off from the slopes, burn a mess of calories — on average, Nordic skiers burn 650 calories an hour — and boost the endorphins while strengthening those downhill legs.

Here are some possibilities to kick-and-glide right out your back door.



Renovations at the Bierstube in The Village at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Nov. 6, 2017. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

A Year of Ski Anniversaries

Whitefish Mountain Resort celebrates 70 years while Blacktail approaches two decades

By JUSTIN FRANZ of the Beacon

Seventy years ago, the only way to get up the slopes at Big Mountain was via a T-bar or your own two feet. But today there are a dozen different chairs, including the newly installed East Rim Lift.