Overview of Whitefish Mountain Resort, Montana
Written by Greg and Heather Burke
Whitefish Mountain Resort is on Big Mountain in the Flathead National Forest of northwest Montana. Whitefish is Montana’s original Big Mountain skiing (the ski area dates back to 1947), redubbed Whitefish Mountain Resort in 2007. We love Whitefish for the 3,000 acres of skiing off all sides of the spectacular 6,817' summit of Big Mountain, and the cool Wild West ski town 8-miles down the mountain road, at the edge of Glacier National Park and the largest fresh water lake in the west – Flathead Lake.
Skiing at Whitefish feels bigger than its 2,353’ vertical, served by swift quads on three sides and six triples - many only run weekends due to the low skier visits. Whitefish has some of the finest ski trails anywhere, Toni Matt and Inspiration are long, undulating, sweeping trails on the south facing front side with fantastic views of Whitefish Lake. Whitefish's newly renovated Summit House has 360-degree views of Glacier Park, the Canadian Rockies and the Lakes beyond. Among the vast and varied 3,000 acres, you find everything from sunny Swift Creek and big bold groomers to snowy bowls in between in Ptarmigan Bowl on the Front Side, to the North Face glades and groomers of Big Creek and Flower Point - added winter of 2014-15. Finally, there's wild in-bounds backcountry skiing in Hellroaring Basin, from Glory Hole and steep tight glades to precipitous Picture Chutes off Hellfire Traverse, this 500-acres of all natural terrain. It could take a season to “Ski the Fish.”
What we love about Whitefish is the scenic beauty, the friendly relaxed Montana vibe, un-crowded slopes, and reasonable rates versus other western ski resorts. And we love the consistent snow quality this far north at 48N, Whitefish’s Big Mountain averages more than 300 inches of snow annually. While the sun and clear skies can be limited, there is always somewhere new to ski on Big Mountain's four aspects. Whitefish even offers night skiing on Friday and Saturday nights and holidays, lighting up the terrain under Chairs 2, 3 and 6 until 8:30 including the Fishbowl Terrain Park, but we found Whitefish après ski is a better priority.
Locals use the slogan "Ski the Fish" – and we understand their loyalty and passion for this Montana mountain. For lunch enjoy the panoramic views from the 6,817' Summit House, the highest restaurant in northwest Montana, cafeteria style with a great bar. Or head to Hellroaring Saloon above the Village by Chair 1 for homemade soup and sandwich special with a microbrew, surrounded by local lore and ski memorabilia. The Village at Whitefish Mountain Resort is small but self-sufficient. The best slope-side lodging at Whitefish is ski in ski out Morning Eagle Lodge, well-designed with ski lockers, underground parking, and beautiful condo suites with a view of the slopes or the lakes. Our condo-style unit was Rocky Mountain elegant complete with fireplace, stereo, full kitchen and washer dryer, a master bedroom, and a bunk room for the kids, plus a balcony. From Morning Eagle you can walk to dinner at Kandahar Lodge's Cafe Kandahar, Hellroaring Saloon, Ed & Mully’s and the Bierstube for après ski in Whitefish ski village. See our review of the Top Places to Après Ski and Dine at Whitefish.
Of course, much of the charm of Whitefish is the town, just 8-miles away. Every street in charming Whitefish has a stunning view back at Big Mountain, as beautiful as any ski town - Steamboat, Jackson Hole, Aspen, Telluride, Crested Butte. Whitefish Montana makes our Best Western Ski Towns list for its authentic wild west flair - plenty of cafes and local brewpubs, interesting boutiques and art galleries, all adorned in frontier town architecture that's laid back and welcoming. We would love to come back for Whitefish Winter Carnival and Parade, if it's anything like the Whitefish's Ski Joring Championships - Whitefish skiers and cowboys know how to celebrate winter. If you prefer to lodge in Whitefish near so many great restaurants and shopping, the historic Grouse Mountain Lodge overlooks the snowy Whitefish Golf Course which serves as Nordic trails covered in snow in winter, just a mile from downtown. The luxurious four-star Lodge at Whitefish Lake is on your way to the ski resort on the shores of the beautiful Lake with top lodging and dining as well.
Besides big mountain skiing at Whitefish, there is much exploring to do around Whitefish, snowmobiling, dog-sledding, ice skating at Stumptown Ice Den, or a winter visit to Glacier National Park on snow shoes or cross country skis – Glacier Park's West Entrance is only 23 miles from Whitefish. Kalispell is just 11 miles away from Glacier National Airport.
This was an old-style skiier friendly, family friendly resort, with good friendly people, and lots of good skiiing.
The amount of snow which creates the snow ghost .. trees covered with large amounts of snow is unique to this resort. Cheap lift tickets are acquireable making the resort very inexpensive, and the skiing was great also. My husband is still talking about the jaegermeister girls who poured a sample down his throat at the apres ski bar at the base of the mountain.The food there was excellent also. You are in the wilderness with a view of glacier national park.