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Whitefish Mountain Resort, Whitefish MT

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Whitefish Mountain Resort is located in Northern Montana, near beautiful Glacier National Park. Formerly known as "Big Mountain", this mountain really is big. It offers spectacular scenery and enough terrain to keep you busy for months. It also receives a good amount of snowfall and its sheer size means that there will be fresh pockets of powder for days. There are more than 3000 acres of skiable terrain, including stuff for beginners and some really gnarly stuff for the experts. Whitefish has 98 trails and almost unlimited tree and glade skiing. Its annual snowfall is around 300+ inches and blue bird ski days are not uncommon. The mountain sits at a high elevation and offers a full 2353 feet in vertical drop. Despite its extreme northern location, getting to Whitefish is relatively easy. Glacier International Airport is just 19 miles away from the resort and once you are in the town of Whitefish you can hop on one of the buses that run up and down the mountain on a regular basis.

 

Whitefish Mountain Resort
flickr image by John Mayer


Whitefish Mountain has 3 high speed quads, 2 regular quads, 6 triple chair lifts and 2 T-bars. The Big Mountain Express is the major chairlift that runs to the summit of the mountain. From the summit there are no easy green circle trails down, just expert and intermediate trails. There is plenty of terrain for beginners however, as newcomers will be able to ride just about everything that is accessible from the Bad Rock and Easy Rider chairs. There are even some awesome beginner's glades, like the Lodi Ridge and Trapper's Trail glades, accessible from the Bigfoot T-bar. A super fun intermediate trail that begins at the top and runs all the way down the mountain is Russ's Street. This fun run offers commanding views and is the easiest way down from the summit. Another great intermediate run is Inspiration. For park lovers the mountain has the Fishbowl Parks, which includes 4 different parks including terrain features for beginners to experts. The Magic Park has features perfect for learners or young riders and Central Ave is the place to go to hit the huge stuff.

For expert skiers and riders there are literally more glades than can be counted. The North Bowl Face, Schmidt's Chutes and Don's Decent are steep and deep. It is not unheard of to ride power that shoots up into your face and over your head. These runs can hide big cliff drops and the mountain is often covered with foggy and flat light conditions, so be careful. Rose coloured or amber goggles are recommended for flat light conditions, which can make it extremely difficult to tell the difference between sky and snow. The northside of the mountain can be accessed by dropping over and down to the Big Creek Express chair. From there you will have access to awesome glades like Stumptown and Window Pane. Great untouched access to these runs can be reached by a short hike from the Bigfoot T-bar. The backside of the mountain goes from the Summit House down to Hellroaring Basin. This basin has some of the coolest terrain on the hill, including Connie's Coulee and the Glory Hole.

Once you drop into this tree-covered basin you can literally make your own path though the woods and find some awesome hidden deep spots. The Hellroaring chair leads you back up to the top, but make sure to catch the last ride before the chair closes (about ½ hour before the main chairs close), or else you could have a long walk back to the main side of the mountain. The locals, who will often still refer to the hill as "Big Mountain", will sometimes hike to the top of Hellroaring Peak and ride the fresh stuff down to the Hellfire trail. This is not recommended for out-of-towners because of the avalanche risks. This is true of all of the backcountry surrounding the resort. Not only is there the danger of avalanches, but much of the terrain leads to deep gullies, which can lead you way off into the valleys and away from the resort. This can be very dangerous.

Whitefish has one of the best après ski scenes anywhere in the US. Almost everyone will hit up the Bierstube after a day on the slopes. Often called the "Stube", this super fun bar has an outdoor seating area (where large snowball fights have been known to occur) and a pool table. On Wednesdays look for the Frabert Award- this is given to a local or employee for making an extremely stupid or embarrassing move. The winner has to drink a huge vat of beer. The Stube also features live music. Another cool place to grab an après ski drink is Ed and Mully's, which has great food as well as a relaxing scene. The Base Lodge Bar and Grill is another great place for dining and drinking. For breakfast be sure to hit up Aunt B's and go for one of her huge cinnamon buns. For on-mountain lodging there is enough to find something to fit any budget. Accommodations include condo rentals, hotel style guestrooms in the base lodge and even huge ski in/out vacation-style houses.

Whitefish Mountain is the quintessential big Western ski resort. The locals are friendly and the mountain itself is huge. Add to that the awesome scenery of the local peaks and the unbelievable amount of available and skiable terrain and you have the best Western ski experience you can find.

 

 
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