Skiing and Snowboarding in Montana
Concierge.com's insider take:
Big Sky Resort, with 4,350 feet of vertical drop, has rightfully earned a reputation for gut-check steeps with its 50-plus black-diamond runs. Big Couloir (accessed from the tram) remains a terror-inducing badge of honor, while the newly opened Dakota Bowl is a backcountry powder paradise (800-548-4486; www.bigskyresort.com). Weekenders and couples should shack up in the basic but cozy slope-side Huntley Lodge; for larger families or extended stays, book one of the ski-in/ski-out Powder Ridge log cabins—you'll feel like you're borrowing a friend's cushy vacation home.
Since Big Sky joined its terrain with neighboring Moonlight Basin (877-822-0430; www.moonlightbasin.com), Lone Peak mountain has gained a notable distinction: the most skiable acres in the country, with 5,512 acres, 25 lifts, and 220 quad-searing runs. The combined area averages 400 inches of snow each season, much of it bone-dry powder. Moonlight's Headwaters lift brings you to the gullies on the north side of the mountain—when it dumps, the First, Second, and Third Fork trails are adrenaline heaven. But Moonlight's best runs are in the trees off the Lone Tree Lift; try Ulery's Trace and Whiskey. There's no shortage of luxury lodging at Moonlight; the four extravagant penthouses in the main lodge are perfect for a group of your billionaire friends, with restaurant-quality kitchens, hidden flat-screen televisions, and incomparable views of the Spanish Peaks. But the typical traveler should book a Cowboy Heaven Cabin: These cozy ski-in/ski-out two-bedroom log cabins are straight out of an L.L. Bean catalog, with gas fireplaces or stoves; big, fluffy beds; and groomed trails just outside the door.
To avoid the crowds, head to Whitefish's Big Mountain. Skiers and boarders get 91 trails covered with 300 inches of snow over 3,000 acres. With lots of glades and deep bowls, it draws downhillers from the Pacific Northwest but belongs to the locals (800-858-4152; www.bigmtn.com).
If you're a Nordic enthusiast, the Rendezvous trails in West Yellowstone are a favorite of Olympic biathletes—and the $5 day pass is a tiny fraction of what you'll pay for downhill. Stop by the Freeheel and Wheel in West Yellowstone to pick up a pass and a map (406-646-7744; www.freeheelandwheel.com).