Montana Vacations

Searching for great place to get away from it all and enjoy wide open spaces and fresh, clean air? Search no more. Montana abounds with year round outdoor activities. From mountain climbing and helicopter skiing to just kicking back at one of the tranquil mountain resorts, there’s something for everyone in Big Sky Country.

Winter Activities

West Yellowstone – West, as the locals call it, is located on the Montana Wyoming border, and is the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Catch highway 191, Gallatin Road, from Bozeman. The scenic drive through the Gallatin National Forest is breathtaking, both summer and winter. Watch out for snow packed and icy roads in the winter months. Snowcoach and snowmobile tours of Yellowstone Park are available, leaving from West Yellowstone. There are entrance fees to the park ranging from $12 to $20, but the fees are well worth it. Snowmobiling in the park is limited, however, outside the park there are hundreds of miles for trail riders and powder hounds alike. “Sleds” can be rented at numerous locations in West and guided rides are also available.
And after a hard day of sleddin’ relax and unwind at one of the many local eateries and watering holes. West also has a great selection of lodges and resorts to accommodate any size family.

Skiing – Montana is one of the premier ski destination states. There are many ski areas to choose from, each offering its own unique venue. Here are just a few:

Montana Snowbowl  – Located just a hop, skip and Gelande jump outside of Missoula, home of the University of Montana. Not for the skittish skier, Snowbowl boasts a continuous 2600 foot vertical drop in a scant 3 miles. I personally survived this drop, and it wasn’t pretty. Many events from Gelande jumping to Telemark racing are held at Snowbowl every season and it packs a crowd. College town flavor and not too touristy, it’s definitely worth a trip up the mountain just to hang with the locals.

Big Sky Resort – Located halfway between Bozeman and West Yellowstone, Big Sky Resort is one of the two world class ski resorts in the state. Built by the late NBC newscaster, Chet Huntley in 1973, Big Sky rivals Aspen and Telluride when it comes to ski resort destinations. Mountain Village, a mere 7500 feet above sea level, is nestled at the base of Lone Mountain. The lifts, which can accommodate 23,000 skiers per hour, consist of double and triple chairs, high speed quads and of course the Lone Peak tram. It’s one of my favorite ski areas, and even though I was hitting the slopes with 22,999 other skiers Big Sky had a way of making it seem like there were only 10 plus me. Accommodations range from private cabins and condos, lodges, to local motels and private homes. Community hot tubs and pools. Restaurants and bars slopeside.

Whitefish Mountain Resort  – Formerly Big Mountain Resort, located just outside the tiny town of Whitefish Montana, is about a stone’s throw away from the Canadian border. This is one of the oldest and finest ski resorts in the state. Trees are laden so heavy and thick with snow they are ghostly reminders of skiers that didn’t survive the 2600 ft vertical drop of Montana Snowbowl. The Mountain has a 2352 vertical drop over 3.3 miles. Base elevation is at 4464 ft. And with 3,000 acres, 3 high speed quads, 2 quads, 4 triple chairs, 2 T-bars and 94 marked trails you’ll never have to ski the same run twice. Powder hounds rejoice – the average snowfall is 300 inches. Yep, that’s 25 feet of the white stuff. Ski through the trees in waist deep powder and you’ll feel like your floating through clouds. Several lodges at the base of the mountain, as well as various motels and hotels in the town of Whitefish provide gracious accommodations. Restaurants and bars slopeside.

Summer Activities

Lone Mountain Ranch – Located in Big Sky, just minutes from the Big Sky Ski Resort, in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness area. The area is breathtaking and only 20 miles north of Yellowstone Park. Golfing, tennis, rock climbing and whitewater rafting are just a few of the activities available. The ranch focuses on nature and related activities and has a naturalist staff to provide guided hikes, canoe trips and mountain bike trips. No trip to Montana would be complete without a little fly fishing. The area has several blue ribbon trout streams with the Gallatin, The Yellowstone and the Madison rivers close by. The ranch offers one or two over night horse pack trips into the some of the most beautiful trout fishing country in the world. Kids Camp is available for ages 4-18. Activities include camping, llama hikes, pony rides and even pizza parties. Guests stay in cozy cabins with no phone or TV for a true leave it all behind experience.

Flathead Lake Lodge – Flathead Lake is the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi. The lodge is nestled in the Flathead Valley, close to the majestic Glacier National Park and just minutes from the artistic town of Bigfork. Guests can enjoy canoeing and sailing on the lake, swimming, water skiing, wake boarding and of course just relaxing on the beach. The ranch also offers horse riding instruction, team roping, and team penning. Golfing, lake fishing and fly fishing are also available. Nearby Bigfork is packed with art galleries, restaurants and shopping.

Seeley-Swan Valley – South of Glacier Park and Flathead Lake, north of Missoula lies the scenic lake filled Seeley-Swan Valley. There are eight major lakes in the valley and a plethora of smaller lakes. Hiking, biking, camping, canoeing, water skiing, kayaking, horse back riding, fishing, well, lets just say you won’t be bored. There are dozens of cabins and homes, as well as many lodges that provide excellent accommodations. One of the best is Double Arrow Resort on Seeley Lake. There are several authentic log cabins that can house a large family or honeymooners, an indoor pool and jacuzzi, golf course, conference center and restaurant with a world class wine list.

Wide open spaces, rocky mountain vistas, fresh air and plenty of sunshine – they don’t call it Big Sky Country for nothing. Winter or summer, if you’re looking for outdoor fun and adventure or just a quiet spot to leave it all behind, Montana has it all. ~