Overview of Bridger Bowl, Montana
Written by Greg and Heather Burke
Bridger Bowl isn’t fancy but it's super fun. This community-owned Montana ski area is just 14 miles from the cool cowboy town of Bozeman, and an hour from Big Sky Resort – one of our favorite ski resorts in the western U.S.
Bridger has an earthy local vibe, but also some kick butt Montana mountain terrain. With 2,000 acres on the East slope of the Bridger Mountain range, skiers get beautiful scenery of the Yellowstone River and the Crazy Mountains (ask a local about the Native American crazy folklore). Bridger is within the Gallatin National Forest, so no slopeside lodging, but an impressive 8,800’ Ridge of in-bounds backcountry style terrain two miles across for experts. This Bridger Ridge offers steep, oft-snowy chutes in Nose and Mundy's bowls where free skiers like Doug Coombs and Scott Schmidt honed their ski skills. A double chair accesses the Ridge, though you must have transceivers to load Schlasman’s lift (named after a miner that died here in an avalanche – and a reminder of the risk).
Bridger is also playground for families, with wide open satiny snow in North and South Bowl, Sunnyside, and the Alpine Face, served by fixed grip lists, with about 50% groomed terrain. Bridger's slogan is "ski the cold smoke", and they get a bounty of natural Montana snow.
Bridger has a loyal local following, especially on a powder day. Bridger Bowl also hosts a fun a roster of fun ski events, King and Queen of the Ridge, the Apron Challenge, a Dirt Bag Ball, races, and terrain park contests.
Bridger is a private non-profit 501(c) 4 organization, a Montana membership based group which sounds low budget, but the Board of Directors and member voters continue to reinvest and add new lifts and three spectacular Rocky Mountain lodges in the last decade, including the Alpine Cabin Lodge - a great spot off Alpine's Limestone Run served by the western most Alpine triple. For table service lunch and après ski at Bridger, go to Jimmy B's at the namesake Jim Bridger Lodge with views of the ski slopes.
Bridger is one of the most easily reached western resorts, 14 miles from Bozeman past bison, horses, and elk farms. It’s a great add on to a ski trip to Big Sky on your arrival or departure day. Compared to most big western areas, Bridger Bowl’s 2,700’ vertical is a bargain ($54 for adults, $19 for kids). Think of Bridger as a Montana State Park for skiing, the first rope tow was installed here in 1951 as Bridger Mountain State Park, later it was named Bozeman State Park, then the ski area became officially Bridger Bowl Association in 1971.