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Ski + Ride Whitefish Resort, Montana: Winter Travel Guide

We first discovered Whitefish Resort, Montana on a summer road trip years ago and instantly fell in love with the quaintness of the town, it’s amazing restaurants, otherworldly Glacier NP, and the amazing hiking and mountain biking.

While we’ve returned many times in the summer to enjoy everything the sun has to offer in Whitefish, this was our first trip to Whitefish in the winter and I’m excited to share with you why we think Whitefish Resort in Montana should be at the top of your winter bucket list.

Whitefish Resort is in a league of its own. With 14 lifts and over 100 runs, it’s a guarantee that there is something for everyone here.
Panoramic views on a family ski trip to Whitefish
Disclosure: Whitefish Resort and The Lodge at Whitefish sponsored this blog; however, the opinions expressed in this blog are, and will always be, truly our own.

Whitefish has everything you could ask for from a ski town. Easy access to the slopes, quaint small town vibe, strong “keep it local” vibe, diversity of restaurants, and luxurious lodges.

Whitefish Resort is in a league of its own. With 14 lifts and over 100 runs, it’s a guarantee that there is something for everyone here.

The base lodge is the hub for ticket rentals and other key amenities

Top 3 Reasons to Ski + Ride Whitefish Resort, Montana

1 | World Class Ski Experience without the Posh-ness or Crowds

I love that Whitefish Resort feels like a local hangout but still has some of the best skiing you can find in the US.

Of all the resorts we’ve skied at so far this 2020/21 season, Whitefish has the closest resemblance to iconic resorts like Mammoth, Park City, and Breckenridge yet with all the pros and none of the cons.

Unlike other big resorts, Whitefish doesn’t attract nearly the same crowds keeping it pristine and while Park City has a reputation for posh crowds, Whitefish is raw and real and we love that.

2 | Affordable

Skiing can be expensive anywhere you go but Whitefish has some great discounts that makes it very affordable even for a large family.

For a ski vacation, you can buy 2, 3, or 5-day passes but don’t have to use them on consecutive days. This is great if you want to have a break in between skiing days.

Amazing views of Whitefish Lake while descending Toni Matt on the front side of Big Mountain

If you are just learning, you can get a beginner lift ticket for only $25 which gives you access to the magic carpet and chairs 6, 9, and 10. Just check ahead of time to see that those chairs are running otherwise you could get bored with just the magic carpet. Click here to buy tickets online.

Bonus: Kids 6 and under always ski for free!

We opted for a frequent skier pass since we live only an hour and a half away. This card is only $50 and makes it so anytime we want a day pass it’s only $56 (less for kids and teens). With the fear of things shutting down again, I thought this was a perfect option for us.

If you get season passes before October, they are only $675 (adults) and $195 (kids).

Click here for a complete list of prices.

3 | Stay and Play or Live it Up

Whitefish has a ton of accommodation options. There are condos and houses right on the slopes which are cozy, comfortable, and close to the slopes or you can stay at The Lodge at Whitefish, which is located off the mountain. We liked this because you’re closer to the liveliness of downtown yet it was also so scenic on the lake.

Lake views from the condos at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake

We did hang out with some friends who rented a huge house right next to the ski runs. It was pretty rad to walk right out their door and ski straight to the chair lift. Most of the houses have jacuzzis and this one even had a sauna.

If you are looking to maximize your time on the slopes, this is the way to go however if you’re looking for more of a getaway type of experience, we loved staying at Whitefish Lodge where we could walk to get dinner in the evening.

Note: They were there over the holidays and while the ticket lines, as well as the lines to get on chairs 6 and 1, were a little long (maybe 20 minutes), the slopes never felt that crowded and the lines on the backside at chair 7 and 11 weren’t long at all.

Whitefish Resort Mountain Guide

I love that there are distinct areas for beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiers and snowboarders at Whitefish Resort.

Any time you go to a new resort it takes a little time to learn where to go so here is a quick rundown of where to go on your first visit to Whitefish Resort.

You’ll probably need to go first to Base Lodge to get your tickets, and ski rentals, or check in for ski school. There’s free parking right by Base Lodge making it very easy and convenient for getting the day started.

If you don’t need any of those things, then park closer to the village. Some of the parking near the village costs money but there is one parking lot that offers free parking if you carpool. I like parking here since it puts you right at Chair 1.

Getting from Base Lodge up to Chair 1 requires riding Chair 6. On a busy day, this line can get long so if you do need tickets at Base Lodge, get there early so you don’t get stuck in lines for tickets and for chair 6. On non-holidays and weekdays, this isn’t an issue.

The Summit House of Big Mountain is a much-needed solace from the cold, powder-lush peak

For food and drinks, there are restaurants at Base Lodge, The Village, and Summit House, which is at the top of the mountain. If you want a latte or espresso, there’s a coffee bar at Base Lodge.

Related: Yellowstone, Grand Teton & Glacier National Parks Road Trip

My Recommended Progression for Newbies

Start on the magic carpet, then hop on Chair 6 to practice on the short runs of Chipmunk and Barndance.

Finish mastering your skills on Inspiration, accessed by Chair 9, then head up Chair 6 and move on to Chair 2. Now, this is typically a busier area since it connects the really fun green run, Home Again, with some advanced blue runs. Home Again is really fun and allows you to easily move from the Base Lodge area over to the Village area.

The Lodge at Chair 1 & 2 and the starting point for the biggest beginner area on the mountain

The Home Again run will also make it so you can access Chair 3, which is a fun beginner area that you should try once you are comfortable with the runs in the Base Lodge area.

Okay, if you’ve mastered that, it’s time for my favorite. Hop on Chair 1, ride to the summit, and ride Caribou on the backside.

This green run is so much fun however, you do have to get down the start of Russ’s Street, which can be crowded, windy, or a bit icy. But once you get down that, Caribou is so much fun.

If you’ve made it down this, you are ready to let loose and explore all the blue runs that start from the summit. I enjoy Gray Wolf, although it’s not great for snowboarders or beginners since there is a big exposed ledge and it can get pretty flat in some spots.

Our family’s favorite run is Goat Haunt.

When you’ve had your fill of the backside of the resort and are ready to head back to Base or The Village, you can get back on Chair 1 and ride it down or ride Russ’s Street back. I love riding this one at the end of the day when the resort is about to close.

My kids love riding Toni Matt down to the bottom. Either way, the views are incredible so have your phone or GoPro handy.

How to Get to Whitefish Resort, Montana

One of the best parts of skiing in Whitefish Resort is that it is so easy to fly into Glacier International Airport in Kalispell. Seriously, this might be the easiest airport experience you’ve ever had.

While Colorado and Utah have great skiing, flying into Denver and Salt Lake City is so much more stressful.

Airlines that fly in and out of Glacier Park International Airport include Delta, Alaska, United, and Allegiant.

From the airport it is only a 15-minute drive to Whitefish however, if you’re staying for more than just a few days, you may want to detour over to Costco first to load up on food. there are multiple grocery stores in Whitefish though, including a natural health food store.

Do you need a rental car?

If you are staying at the Lodge in Whitefish and aren’t planning on exploring other areas you don’t need a car. The free shuttle will take you up the mountain and into town.

Even if you don’t stay at The Lodge, there is a free S.N.O.W. bus that takes you from town to Whitefish Resort.

Packing Tips for a Winter Trip to Whitefish Resort

Every day is an ultimate winter wonderland up here at Whitefish

The skiing is amazing, the town is amazing, the people are amazing… the weather, it’s cold 🥶!

Now, this makes for some great powder days but I have to warn you if you’re used to California, Colorado, and Utah, coming to ski in Montana will be a shock.

My first day on the slopes took some getting used to. As I mentioned, the best skiing is on the backside or north side of the summit but it is almost always foggy or snowing up here.

Chair 7, Whitefish Resort, Family ski resorts, Montana
Chair 7 views at Whitefish Resort

I adapted quickly by just using hand and foot warmers and making sure I had plenty of layers on.

Here’s what I need to wear to go skiing at Whitefish Resort. Keep in mind, the temps are typically in the teens or low twenties and it’s often sopped in or windy so yes, this is a lot of layers but the snow is so good!

  • Base Layer- I love my Merino Wool base layer. I’ve had it for 5 years and it’s kept me warm on many adventures. I wear the top and the bottom when I go skiing.
  • Leggings- Some days I need leggings on top of my base layer and under my bib (I know, it’s overkill but I get really cold easily)
  • Columbia Jacket- I wear a tight-fitting jacket over the Merino Wool top to help keep the wind out.
  • Patagonia Nano Puff- If you follow our adventures on YouTube you probably always see me it this jacket. It goes everywhere with me.
  • Arctix Ski Bib– I recently switched over to this ski bib and it’s so comfortable for a long day playing on the slopes. I like that it is affordable and functional.
  • Arctix Ski Jacket– I love this new jacket. It keeps me really

Where to Stay in Whitefish, Montana

We stayed at the Lodge at Whitefish and we’re blown away by how amazing the entire experience was.

For starters, we stayed in a condo that overlooked the lake. It was wonderful to be able to cook dinner and breakfast while taking in the views or sit on the lanai looking out at the lake and drinking coffee in the morning.

The condo had two rooms that slept four– two twins in one room and a king in the other. The master suite had a shower with massage jets in the wall, plus, a jacuzzi tub!

I didn’t try that out because the Lodge at Whitefish has a jacuzzi right on the lake and you can’t pass up an opportunity to sit in a spa with views like this!
The outdoor hot tub at Whitefish Lodge is a stunning and relaxing way to end a great day of family skiing

The Lodge at Whitefish Lake goes above and beyond to make sure your stay is perfect. They have free smores every night from 7-9 pm on the Terrace and nightly movies at 7 pm in the Viking Lounge. Free cocktails in the lobby each night from 5-6 pm. There’s yoga on the weekends and so much more!

Cozied up at the coffee shop inside the lobby at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake

I had a fantastic evening at the Boat Club Bar, meeting locals and other travelers. I heard that the Boat Club Dining Room, located in the same place as the bar where we only drank, serves incredibly delicious food. Judging by the plates of oysters and steaks I observed being brought out, I must say that choosing to eat there is a better option than the chili we made in the condo.

Click here to book your stay at The Lodge at Whitefish

Where to Eat in Whitefish, Montana

Downtown Whitefish

We are obsessed with eating at Amazing Crepes in downtown Whitefish. They have great sweet crepes but it’s the sausage, egg, and cheese one that I love.

We also enjoy getting tacos at Jalisco’s Cantina. This is a nicer restaurant offering a unique spin on tacos. All their tortillas are hand made and the carnitas tacos were our favorite.

If you stay at the Lodge, there’s a free shuttle that can take or pick you up. We chose to walk there and get a ride back when our bellies were stuffed. Also, you can reserve your private room upstairs at Jalisco’s Cantina.

If you’re looking for some coffee on the way up to the slopes, there’s a really cute coffee trailer, Crema, on the way just before you pass the Lodge at Whitefish.

Things to do in Whitefish Besides Ski + Ride

1 | Explore Downtown

Whitefish Town is so cute so you want to see it under the lights at night. There are plenty of boutiques, stores, coffee shops, and restaurants to check out.

2 | GNP in Winter

We visit Glacier NP often in spring, summer, and fall, but now, since we are living in Polson, we get to go explore GNP in the winter. If you are crunched for time, just going to Lake McDonald Lake on a clear day to take pictures is great.

If you have more time, we think hiking out to Avalanche Lake is a must-do. You will probably need snow shoes.

A more challenging hike is to go to the top of Apgar Lookout.

We also like to cross-country ski at Rocky Point.

Related: Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

3 | Take a sleigh ride:

Looking for a unique Montana experience? Bar W Guest Ranch creates the perfect winter wonderland experience. You can enjoy sleigh rides three times a day, and each sleigh can accommodate up to 10 people. Bring your friends or just your sweetheart and create a memory of a lifetime.

4 | Go Dog Sledding

Want a little more adrenaline? Base Camp Bigfork allows you to drive your team of Inuit Sled Dogs while exploring the beautiful Montana landscape.

5 | Visit Bigfork

If you head to Big Fork to Dog Sled, may as well make a day trip out of it and explore Bigfork, which sits on the northern end of Flathead Lake.

Enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants overlooking the lake or explore one of the many unique boutiques and shops in town. Whistling Andy Distilling is a popular tourist destination and there are also many adventures close by such as ice fishing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.

Whether you choose to explore all that Flathead has to offer or just stay on the mountain and get your fill of the slopes, a trip to Whitefish is sure to be one for the books!

If you have any questions about planning a trip to Whitefish, or if you’ve been and loved it, let us know in the comments below.


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Monday 26th of September 2022

Hi there! Just found your website after seeing a couple of your youtube videos. I'm planning a family ski trip this coming February. I was really looking forward to a trip to one of the resorts in british columbia but as of now the covid protocols there make it a headache for non canadian citizens. I think I've narrowed it down to Tamarack, ID or Whitefish, MT. I've watched both of your videos and read your blog on each and am having a hard time deciding. They are equal distance as we are driving from Oregon. I'm really looking for ski in ski out and walking distance to restaurants. Also looking for ski runs that aren't too short where we spend most of the time in lines.. I would sacrifice close restaurants for ski access, but I really like the idea of a village close by for the experience. We are intermediate and beginner ski levels, with kids 9, 12, and 14. Thanks so much for your advice!



Thursday 29th of September 2022

Hands down I'd pick Whitefish. It's my (& my kids) absolute favorite resort because of the diversity of runs. There are never lines! The only downside is that Whitefish can be really cold so make sure you have good base layers. Even though you give up walkability to a village, the bus system is so easy into town and then once you are there you have much better options for things to do/places to eat. (Our personal fav is The Taphouse). Lmk if you have any more questions.

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