As ski areas in western Montana kick into high gear for the upcoming season, here is a look at some exciting new developments and opening dates:
At Whitefish Mountain Resort, skiers and snowboarders are awaiting the new Flower Point Chairlift, a triple lift that will open 200 acres of new terrain on the north side of the mountain.
Helicopter crews installed all 17 towers for the new lift during summer. The resort cut six groomable runs that will be accessible from the lift, all of which will be intermediate. The Flower Point area also has some advanced tree skiing. The lift will also provide access to one new run on the front side of the mountain, called “One Grand Parade.” Because the north side of the mountain gets less sunlight in winter, the snow holds longer there.
Before this year, Flower Point was accessible only to hikers and was outside the resort’s boundary. The area will now be patrolled by the Whitefish Mountain Resort ski patrol.
The resort also completed $910,000 in upgrades to the Base Lodge, and added a Summit Weather Station to provide live weather data to customers.
Whitefish Mountain Resort is open. Visit skiwhitefish.com for more information.
Montana Snowbowl outside Missoula was projected to open Dec. 5, according to owner Brad Morris.
“There’s a fair amount of snow on top, and we’ve been making snow on the lower levels,” Morris said. “We’ll see. The guys are out grooming it now. It’s always hard to say.”
Snowbowl workers did quite a bit of tree-thinning on the mountain this summer, which should make skiing safer.
“We did what the Forest Service calls hazard tree removal,” Morris explained. “So we removed dead trees within 150 feet of runs on all the areas adjacent to runs. It was thousands of trees. They are actually still working on it. It was a big project for the mountain.”
Visit montanasnowbowl.com for more information.
Turner Mountain, located north of Libby, will try to open on Dec. 20 as long as it gets enough snow.
Visit skiturner.com for updates.
Blacktail Mountain Ski Area, near Lakeside on the west shore of Flathead Lake, has not yet set an opening date.
For updates, visit blacktailmountain.com.
Lookout Pass Ski Area, located off Interstate 90 west of St. Regis on the Montana-Idaho border, opened Friday.
It will operate Thursday through Monday until Dec. 20, after which it will be open seven days a week until Jan. 4. After that, it will be open Wednesday through Monday until the end of February. On weekends, the lifts open at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time.
For more information, visit skilookout.com.
Lost Trail Powder Mountain, located off U.S. Highway 93 south of Darby on the border of Montana and Idaho is open running chairs 1 and 2 starting at 9:30 a.m.
Lost Trail has five double chairs and three rope tows, with more than 50 marked trails on 1,800 acres. Its average annual snowfall is 300 inches. Lost Trail conducted thinning operations over the summer, which opened many acres of terrain.
Visit losttrail.com for updated information.
Discovery Ski Area near Philipsburg is open weekends only until Dec. 20. According to reports, the skiing there has been great with snow coverage all over the mountain.
Visit skidiscovery.com for more information.
Maverick Mountain, near Polaris in the Big Hole Valley, will open when snow conditions permit.
Visit skimaverick.com for more information.
Great Divide Ski Area near Helena opened Nov. 30 is hosts night skiing on Fridays.
Visit skigd.com for a calender of events.
Showdown near Great Falls will open Dec. 12.
Visit showdownmontana.com for more information.
Big Sky Resort: 7 percent of the mountain – 380 acres – is currently open.
Currently, three lifts are open as well as 10 features in the Swifty 2.0 terrain park. Ski patrollers are working hard to open as much of the mountain as possible.
Visit bigskyresort.com for updates.
Bridger Bowl near Bozeman is open and boasts new Alpine and Powder Park triple chairlifts, which access 500 new acres of beginner and intermediate runs.