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Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort

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The Dreaded Big Mountain Road (not quite so dreaded anymore)

Once upon a time, the road up to Big Mountain (now Whitefish Mountain) was terrible. The road had several awful switchbacks and was basically a magnet for auto accidents, among other less happy incidents. Happily, while the Big Mountain Road is still not the world's greatest ski access road, I'm happy to say that the worse part of the road (the two awful tight hairpin turns), have been fixed. The road has also been re-routed in several locations, too.

The Big Mountain ski area has one, and only one, road leading up to it. This road is 5 miles long. And the road is not the greatest. While the road is not gravel like is found over at Blacktail, sometimes I wish it was, since it probably would provide better traction and be safer. Now, the big changes to the road have made the drive up to the ski area much, much better than before. However, there are several things to keep in mind.

The Mountains of Glacier as seen from the Big Mountain Ski Area

First, the road is frequently icy. While the road crews do a decent job of keeping the road clear of snow, generally Big Mountain Road has icy spots on it. These icy spots, combined with lots of traffic, can lead to lots of accidents – some of which can be nasty.

And secondly, there is the traffic. People in the morning drive up this road like it is the Indy 500. Even if you go the speed limit of 25mph you are still very likely to have a train of dozens of cars behind you by the time you reach the ski area. Some of these yahoos will even attempt to pass you on blind corners.

You can avoid this fun commute, though, by hopping on the Snow Bus. The Snow Bus is a free shuttle bus that runs from downtown Whitefish (7 road miles away) to the base area of Big Mountain. On weekends these buses can fill up – but on weekdays one can usually get a space on the bus. Riding the Snow Bus is a good way to get a free ride to the top of the mountain without putting your car in mortal danger of permanent damage. Ride time generally runs about 30-40 minutes from downtown Whitefish to the base area on Big Mountain.


Well, there you have it. A detailed look and review at the Big Mountain Ski Area (now Whitefish Mountain) by someone who has spent quite a bit of time skiing on the mountain.

As you can probably tell, I’m torn two ways by Big Mountain. On the one hand, I hate seeing Big Mountain turn into a Montana “Vail”, as this is leading to lots of little inconveniences, longer lift lines, higher prices and more people on the slopes. Yet, on the other hand, Big Mountain still has some wonderful skiing when conditions are right.

To avoid the crowds that swarm up on Big Mountain during the weekend, try to ski during the weekdays – especially Monday-Thursdays (Fridays can be moderately crowded at times). And, if you are stuck skiing up there on the weekends, look at skiing on the back side and/or using the two triple chairs that Big Mountain opens up on the weekends.

An additional word also needs to be mentioned about the stunning views you get from the summit of Big Mountain. On a clear day, the view from on top of Big Mountain is one of the finest in Montana - with the sprawling Flathead Valley, Flathead Lake and Whitefish Lake all seen to the south, while the mountains of Glaicer and the Canadian Rockies rise to the east.

Web Resources
Whitefish Mountain Ski Area
Ski Montana.Com

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Ski the Whole Mountain

About : Ski the Whole Mountain provides safe and effective difficult terrain skiing techniques, including basic avalanche awareness and safety, and features 200 full-color photographs of actual terrain challenges and the keys to skiing them effectively.
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