Winter Preview 2018

From ski resorts to can't-miss events, your guide to making the most of the 2018-19 winter season

By Beacon Staff
A skier flies off a jump at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

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 – El Nino.

El Nino is a term for the occasional, natural warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which has a worldwide effect on weather and can lead to a drier, warmer 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, the Flathead Valley has plenty to offer.


Skiers enjoy bluebird skies at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Beacon File Photo

What’s New at Whitefish Mountain Resort and Blacktail Mountain

Here’s a look at some of the changes underway at the Flathead Valley’s local gems

By TRISTAN SCOTT of the Beacon

In preparation for the upcoming 2018-19 ski season, Whitefish Mountain Resort has completed another round of improvements, while Blacktail is gearing up with a season pass sale event.

On Big Mountain, the newly remodeled interior of Ed and Mully’s Bar and Grill will greet skiers and riders this winter with a fresh look and design that allows more room for lunch and a ski-break beverage.



Resorts in the Region

There’s no shortage of ski areas within driving distance of the Flathead Valley

By TRISTAN SCOTT of the Beacon

From Whitefish to Blacktail, Turner to Snowbowl, western Montana is home to some of the best resorts in the West. Meanwhile, Idaho and Canada offer skiers and riders a suite of schussing options within driving distance. Here’s a roundup of resorts in the region that are worth the drive.



Conner Gray skis at the Glacier Nordic Center in Whitefish on Dec. 28, 2017. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

Skinny Skis and Corduroy

The Flathead Valley is a gateway to gliding through the forests on cross-country skis

By TRISTAN SCOTT of the Beacon

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.

But it’s also a lot of fun, and the grace of kicking and gliding can be just as mesmerizing as a chairlift spinning at your favorite downhill ski area.

Here are some possibilities right out your back door.



A skater on Spencer Lake. Beacon File Photo

Nature’s Zamboni

Gleaming ice arrives in the Crown of the Continent as a rare pre-winter treat for skating and pond hockey

By TRISTAN SCOTT of the Beacon

Nature’s Zambonis are hard at work grooming and gleaming Northwest Montana’s wild ice this pre-winter season, and skaters, amateur pond hockey players and underwater turtle-gazers are rejoicing on its translucent surfaces.

Untamed, uncultivated and free-range, wild ice is a phenomenon that occurs due to an intricate interplay of temperature, pressure, humidity, wind, and water.



Lindsay Goudreau stands by her backyard ice rink in Columbia Falls with Greta, 4, and Gus, 2, on Nov. 21, 2018. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

How to Build an Ice Rink in Your Backyard

When the days get cold, Lindsay Goudreau constructs a rink for her three kids

By JUSTIN FRANZ of the Beacon

When Lindsay Goudreau’s son Cove turned 3, she decided it was about time to put ice skates on the boy. Finding skates was easy, but finding a place to try them out wasn’t. So Goudreau decided to build an ice rink in the backyard.



The Craft Brewers Cup at the Woodland Ice Center. Beacon File Photo

Hockey Players Lace Up Their Skates for 8th Annual Craft Brewers Cup

Event runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 at Woodland Park’s outdoor rink

By JUSTIN FRANZ of the Beacon

Can there be any better combination than hockey and craft beer?

For the last eight years, the Craft Brewers Cup in Kalispell has proved that beer and hockey are indeed a winning combination. This year’s tournament will be held at Woodland Park’s outdoor rink from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 and feature 12 teams, including six from Northwest Montana and six traveling from Missoula, Calgary and even the United Kingdom.



Vernon Kiser cruises toward the finish line as his competitor wipes out during the barstool ski races at the 40th annual Cabin Fever Days in Martin City on Feb. 10, 2018. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Can’t Miss Events: Winter 2018-2019

From Woods Bay to Martin City and everywhere in between, the Flathead Valley is flush with winter festivals and community events

By MYERS REECE of the Beacon

The Flathead Valley annually hosts a full slate of winter festivals and other community events, and will welcome another addition to the lineup in January with the launch of “Frosty the Brewfest” in downtown Kalispell.

Below is a guide to some of the can’t-miss happenings this winter. Be sure to visit www.flatheadevents.net for daily updates on events throughout the valley.