News & Features

Winter Preview 2019-2020

Gearing up for the season

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?

Whether the snow arrives in earnest in the coming weeks and months is, as always, a guessing game. Only time will tell.

But 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, ice skating and other outdoor pursuits to the region’s best apres options, the Flathead Valley has plenty to offer.

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Bill Cubbage, Director of Mountain Operations for Whitefish Mountain Resort, attends a ski patrol training session on Nov. 26, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

A Changing of the Guard at Big Mountain

New leadership taking over mountain operations, ski patrol and more at Whitefish Mountain Resort

By TRISTAN SCOTT of the Beacon

Hauling rope bags and racks of carabiners, an array of straps and slings falling in orderly arcs over their familiar red-and-black GoreTex garb, the ski patrollers at Whitefish Mountain Resort worked with a silent efficiency as they executed a recent chair lift-evacuation exercise that’s part of a regular regimen of training drills on Big Mountain.

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Resorts in the Region

It’s time to load up the station wagon and head for the hill, because there’s no shortage of ski areas within driving distance of the Flathead Valley

By TRISTAN SCOTT of the Beacon

Whitefish Mountain Resort

Projected Opening Day: Dec. 6

Distance from Kalispell: 25 miles

Terrain: 3,000 acres

Single-Day Adult Lift Ticket: $83

One of the most popular ski areas in Montana, the former “Big Mountain” is celebrating 72 years of epic adventures this winter. Historically, this resort gathers more than 300 inches of snowfall each winter, and last year tallied a remarkable 410 inches. SKI Magazine readers regularly rank this ski resort among the top 10 in North America. This is the third winter since Chair 5 moved to East Rim, while Ed and Mully’s has undergone renovations and both the Summit House and Bierstube have received facelifts.

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Cross Country Countdown

As snow starts to pile up, Nordic ski areas begin opening in Northwest Montana

By JUSTIN FRANZ of the Beacon

As winter quickly approaches, it can seem harder and harder to get outside; it’s cold and the days are short. A big recreational draw this time of year — alpine skiing — is often more of a weekend or day-off activity, when you have the time to load up the skis and the boots and everything else you need for a day in the mountains.

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Odie Pierce carves on his monoski while riding with DREAM Adaptive and Great Northern Powder Guides. Beacon File Photo

Making Winter Accessible for All

DREAM Adaptive teams up with Glacier Nordic Club to expand its winter programming

By JUSTIN FRANZ of the Beacon

DREAM Adaptive Recreation’s mission is to make winter activities accessible to everyone, but Executive Director Julie Tickle admits that not everyone, regardless of their ability, wants to go barreling down a hill on skis.

To make sure everyone who wants to enjoy winter can, DREAM Adaptive is teaming up with the Glacier Nordic Club to open cross-country ski trails in Whitefish to individuals with disabilities.

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Faith Askew practices with the Glacier Skate Academy at the Stumptown Ice Den. Beacon File Photo

Holiday Show Kicks off Busy Season at Stumptown Ice Den

‘Christmas on Ice’ will feature for Olympic silver medalist and around 40 local skaters

By ANDY VIANO of the Beacon

Canadian Olympian Dylan Moscovitch will star in “Christmas on Ice” at the Stumptown Ice Den in Whitefish later this month, the highlight of a full winter at the year-round rink.

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Snowboarders charge down Badrock on at Blacktail Mountain Ski Area. Beacon File Photo

Waking Up Winter on Blacktail Mountain

Downhill devotees party for powder at small, affordable ski area with mom-and-pop charm

By TRISTAN SCOTT of the Beacon

The charming, drive-to-the-top ski area on Blacktail Mountain is waking up for winter, preparing to offer Flathead Valley skiers and riders another season of affordability, discreet powder stashes and après delights.

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The Whitefish Winter Carnival on Feb. 2, 2019. Beacon File Photo

Can’t Miss Events: 2019-2020

The Flathead Valley knows how to throw a party no matter the weather outside

The winter event season kicks off in a big way this week with shindigs in every major town: Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Bigfork.

From there, the events keep rolling in through February. Here’s a sampling of the valley’s many can’t-miss winter offerings.

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