Winter adventure abounds in Southwest Montana
Winter in Southwest Montana boasts the best the Rocky Mountain West has to offer. Skiiers will find plentiful powder and diverse terrain at the area’s three resorts; snowmobilers thrill at the seemingly endless trails and easy backcountry access across the region; and at the end of the day, everyone can come together at the area’s relaxing hot springs.
Nestled in the Anaconda-Pintler Mountains with views of Georgetown Lake, Discovery Ski Area offers 2,400 feet of vertical, and for off-piste enthusiasts the backside is akin to helicopter-accessed terrain in Alaska — albeit without the hefty price tag. The quaint communities of Anaconda and Philipsburg are perfect for recovering from a long day on the mountain. The Broadway Hotel in Philipsburg is a gem with its themed rooms and eclectic owner who is more than happy to whip up an organic breakfast for guests before heading to the mountain.
Great Divide is a snowboarder’s paradise. While touting the longest ski season in Montana (generally late October through late April), this homegrown resort also has no fewer than terrain parks. Great Divide is about a 30-minute drive from the historic capital city of Helena, making it an easy jumping off point for a little mom-and-pop ski area tour. In Helena, fuel up on homemade, locally produced, organic fare at the No Sweat Café on Last Chance Gulch (the French toast is a local favorite), and après ski swill a pint or two at the Blackfoot Tap Room, a microbrewery featuring Bavarian-caliber brews.
Maverick Mountain (within spitting distance of the Patagonia Outlet in Dillon…in case you’ve forgotten any outerwear must-haves to rip the fall line) is nestled in the Pioneer Mountains in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Though served by only one lift, the mountain has a little something for everyone.
For those with more of a throttle addiction, the Pioneer Mountains near Jackson offer some of the finest snowmobiling trails in Montana. Many are groomed trails for beginners, but you can also access some backcountry terrain if equipped and trained in avalanche safety. Nearby Jackson Hot Springs will soak away your aches after a long day of adventure; and if you or your family are in the mood for a more mellow outing, the Nordic ski trails surrounding the hot springs are also meticulously groomed and scenic.
Another get-away-and-relax option is rustic Elkhorn Hot Springs. Tucked in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Elkhorn is a year-round resort with a family-friendly, low-key vibe. The 12 km of groomed cross county ski trails wind up to the summit of Comet Mountain and past the old ghost town remains of the Elkhorn Mine. After a long day working up a sweat, enjoy a soak in the natural hot springs before retiring to your own bona fide Wild West log cabin.
Additionally, Homestake Lodge, just a few short miles up the pass from historic Butte, offers 37 km of skate and classic Nordic skiing, impeccably groomed. Homestake Lodge also offers a myriad of lodging options — from the rustic yurt to the lodge for your family reunion or group ski trip.
Southwest Montana, formerly known as Gold West Country, is a large swath of mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes and hearty communities smack dab in between Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. Southwest Montana offers a sampling of all of Montana’s lightly-tread amenities, including mega-mountains, lunker trout, budding melting pots for art and culture in Butte and Helena, remote yet luxurious escapes, and a slice of the Wild West through the numerous and well-preserved ghost towns in its mineral-rich hills. http://goldwest.visitmt.com
Tags: Blackfoot Tap Room, Cross country ski, Dillon, Discovery Ski Area, Elkhorn Hot Springs, Great Divide, Helena, Homestake Lodge, Jackson Hot Springs, Maverick Mountain, Montana hot springs, Patagonia Outlet, Skiing in Montana, Snowmobiling