Big Mountain

Whitefish, Montana
(view all Whitefish area trails)

Type: Lift-serviced / Resort

Posted by: Matt S on May 29, 2011


Whitefish Mountain Resort gives skiers and snowboarders plenty of fresh powder and trails on 3000 acres of skiable terrain. The area receives 300 inches of average annual snowfall.

Skiers and snowboarders will experience a vertical drop 2,353 feet from a summit elevation of 6,871 feet. The resort has 13 lifts that access the 94 trails visitors can choose from.

The trails are ranked 15% beginner, 35% intermediate, 40% advanced, and 10% expert. The longest trail is 3.3 miles. Popular trails include Inspiration, Moose, and Home Again.

Whitefish Mountain Resort also has a nordic skiing center groomed for skate and classical cross country skiing.

Skate Skiing, Skiing (Cross-Country), Skiing (Downhill), Snow Blading, Snowboarding



Reviews of Big Mountain


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mtbgreg1   Out of Bounds
July 8, 2011
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Big Mountain has earned a special place in my heart through all of the amazing experiences I had skiing it when I lived in Montana during the 07/08 season. That year the snow was so deep and so plentiful that old timers were simply referring to it as "the best year ever." Icy days were few and far between, and if I wasn't getting into at least knee deep powder it was a crappy day. Then there were the really good days when it was waist deep all day, and then there were the great days when I had to straight line the steeps because I was sinking in to drifts over my head! That was easily the best year of skiing of my entire life!

Big Mountain doesn't have as big of a vertical drop as some other Rocky Mountain resorts ,although 2,353 feet is still very respectable, but what it lacks in height it makes up for in sheer size. Big Mountain measures a massive 3,000 skiable acres-it is impossible to experience this resort in one day, and after my 50 days that I spent skiing there there are probably still hidden lines that I haven't hit! If one area of the resort is tracked up, chances are that another has only been touched by a few pairs of skis. Some faces and runs get shralped within an hour of lift open, but there are certain areas that will stay untracked for days... if you know where to find them.

But what makes Big Mountain unique? Well, to start with, while it IS a big-time ski resort with condos and the like, it is not nearly as crowded and commercialized as some resorts in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. Big Mountain really feels like a locals' mountain most of the year. Lots of times there are no lift lines and it just feels like you have the place almost all to yourself. Sure, there are some tourists occasionally... but if you're skiing the good stuff anyway, you'll probably be on different lifts than the out-of-towners.

Secondly, Big Mountain is renowned for their "snow ghosts." Snow ghosts are trees that get encrusted with snow due to the action of the wind in the mountains (see photos). These gorgeous trees are actually unique to this area: Big Mountain and Schweitzer Mountain in nearby northern Idaho are really two of the only ski resorts where this phenomenon occurs. Oh, and you'll only make the mistake of skiing straight into a tree, thinking it looks soft and fluffy, once: they are rock-solid!

While I already listed the trees as a unique feature, the skiing IN the trees is actually pretty unique to Big Mountain. Since the summit elevation is relatively low, the entire resort lies right below the tree line. As a result, there are acres and acres of gladed ridges and bowls to be skied. Skiing tight trees takes a special talent, and if you are used to skiing wide-open faces and groomers it can be very difficult at first. But if you want to find the best snow, the one secret I'm going to give you is to head for the trees. The wind can whip across the resort pretty quickly, and when it does it blows a lot of the powder off of the open faces. When the wind carrying that snow hits the nearby trees, it slows down and drops its precious burden off in the glades. So if the resort reported 12 inches of new snow the night before, it might only really be about 9 or 6" out in the open... but in the trees it can easily be more like 18!

What else can I say about Big Mountain? They've got a killer terrain park with super pipe, plenty of cliff lines, several crazy-steep chutes, and great backcountry access. If you haven't skied The Big yet, start planning your trip now!

PS This resort is now technically known as "Whitefish Mountain Resort" on Big Mountain.... but "It's still Big Mountain to me!"
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