Colorado may get most of of the attention, but with major improvements Montana and its underrated ski areas deserve a second look. Montana resorts feature challenging terrain that is seasonally blanketed in waist-deep powder from passing snow storms. Montana ski resorts are beginning to rival those of Colorado and Utah.
1. Bigger Big Sky
Big Sky buys Moonlight Basin and has now become the largest ski resort in the nation boasting 30 lifts, a 4,350 ft vertical drop and 5,750 ski-able acres. From the top of the Lone Peak Tram down the double black diamond North Summit Snowfield all the way to the bottom of the Six-Shooter chair lift of Moonlight Basin, skiers can ride the longest ski run in the lower 48. Expect ticket prices of around $100.
2. Montana Snow Bowl Expansion
MT Snowbowl has won approval from Lolo National Forest to add more beginner and intermediate runs around the TV Mountain north of Missoula. Snowbowl plans to open an additional 1,000 acres of ski-able terrain, total terrain will increase from 1,138 to 2,243 acres and total runs will increase from 52 to 80. The area of expansion has been previously logged making the project environmentally low impact.
3. Lookout Pass Expansion
Over the next 20 years Lookout Pass plans to expand their resort by over 2,000 acres. Their master plan includes opening up 2 additional 6,200 ft peaks west-southwest of the existing ski area. This plan includes the construction of a new 20,000 sq-ft base lodge located at what is currently the “back-side” of the resort. Phase 1 of the expansion plan has undergone the pre-screening process; this face includes two new double chair lifts off of Eagle Mountain. It would offer 700 acres of terrain with a 1,400 foot vertical drop. This could become a reality withing the next few years.
4. Bridger Bowl Uprgade
Bridger Bowl Ski Area, located outside of Bozeman, Montana, has completed an installation of 2 new chair lifts. The 4.1 million dollar project replaced a 1967 Riblet double chair with 2 triple chairlifts, laid out in a V shaped pattern. This project will make it much easier for skiers to access all of this terrain.
5. Whitefish Mountain Resort Improvements
In April 2013, the Flathead National Forest approved a plan to add an additional 200 acres of ski-able terrain to Whitefish Mountain. The resort purchased a triple chair lift from Kimberly Ski Area that will be transplanted in to the Flower Point area. this plan also involves the clearing of 32 acres of timber. 100 seats will be added to the base lodge with its recent 1,200 sq-ft addition. This new room is located on the northeast corner and includes windows with great views of the mountain.
6. New Access Road to Discovery Ski Area
The Federal Bureau of Land Management has given the OK to build a road connecting the town of Phillipsburg to the Discovery Ski Area. The road would connect the existing Rumsey Road to another private road that leads to Discovery. It would also permit the construction of a bridge across Fred Burr Creek. This new road will save visitors leaving Missoula and surrounding area around 25 miles of driving.