things to do in the winter
Everywhere you look there's more untouched snow. Deciding how to play in it can be overwhelming (in a good way) when your options are as abundant as they are in Glacier Country. Winter in Montana offers hundreds of inches of annual snowfall on 11,000+ acres of skiable terrain at seven downhill ski resorts, plus endless miles of epic backcountry. We also specialize in hot springs, hot tubs and hot chocolate.
Round out your itinerary by planning to take full advantage of all the winter activities available outside the park.
To help make trip planning easier, we've rounded up some single and multiday adventure suggestions for inspiration.
Avalanche safety should always be top of mind when you're headed into the deep stuff. Carry avalanche safety gear, know the red flags of an unstable snowpack, check the avalanche forecast, and get educated in avalanche safety.
Sled the best of the West in the unreal landscapes and premier small towns between Glacier and Yellowstone national parks. Plan ahead, play it safe and tread lightly.
Day One: Downhill Ski at Lost Trail Powder Mountain in Sula
Hit the light and fluffy stuff on the slopes at Lost Trail Powder Mountain. This family-owned and operated ski area straddling the Montana-Idaho border on the Continental Divide offers consistently good powder to the tune of 300 inches of snowfall every year.
Dine in downtown Darby and overnight at Darby's Rye Creek Lodge, where private, luxury log cabins feature rustic elegance with lovely views, a wide variety of native wildlife and an array of outdoor activities.
Day Two: Snowmobile Skalkaho Pass
Connect with one of the experienced guides or outfitters in Darby for a full-throttle snowmobile ride on Skalkaho Pass, and experience some of the Bitterroot's most beautiful backcountry. This is powder play at its finest. Rides are tailored to your ability level and lunch is provided.
Dine in downtown Darby and overnight at Darby's Bitterroot River Ranch (adults 12+) or grab a bite at Suzette's Organics and overnight at the Bitterroot River Inn in Hamilton.
Day Three: Nordic Ski Lolo Pass in Lolo
Drive to Lolo Pass for some Nordic skiing. A $5 day pass is required, which you can purchase at the Lolo Pass Visitor Center. Lolo Pass has some of the most reliable snow in the region and offers 13 km of trails groomed for skate and classic skiing, plus groomed multi-use trails for skating and un-tracked classic. Don't miss the warming hut!
Soak and dine at Lolo Hot Springs, an ancient meeting place for American Indians, a mineral lick for wildlife and a stop along the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
3-Day Luxury Option: Spend your entire three-day getaway in luxury at Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, and enjoy adventures like dog sledding, fat-tire snow biking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing and horseback riding. This award winning, all-inclusive, adult (16+) retreat and Montana hideaway offers rustic elegance, personalized service, gourmet culinary experiences and the romance of the Rocky Mountain West.
Day One: Nordic Ski in Olney With Dog Creek Lodge
At Dog Creek Lodge and Nordic Ski Center glide across 27 km of groomed Nordic trails through the wintry wonderland of the Stillwater State Forest. The lodge offers a full ski shop, coffee bar and restaurant, and they make homemade wood-fired pizza with locally sourced ingredients—perfect for an après ski lunch.
Later in the afternoon, take a 45-minute sleigh ride with Cripple Creek Horse Ranch in Trego, gliding quietly through the snow while tucked under a wool blanket, where you'll arrive at a warm canvas cabin for dinner in an old-fashioned setting.
Overnight at Dog Creek Lodge.
Day Two: Snowmobile in Olney
Take a half- or full-day snowmobile tour of the Stillwater State Forest with the experienced guides at either Action Rentals or Northwest Montana Adventures. Their in-depth knowledge of the region means you'll experience all the best spots and scenic views. Looking to get off the beaten path? They can even take you on a private guided snowmobile trip through Montana's backcountry.
Savor the famous Eureka Burger or a Montana Huckleberry Burger at Front Porch Dewey Burger & Fish Co. in Eureka, then drive along scenic Lake Koocanusa to Libby and overnight at Venture Inn or Dave Blackburn's Kootenai Angler. Trip Tip: While you're in Eureka, if time permits, stop for a sauna bath/Valo spa experience at Relics Retreat.
Day Three: Downhill Ski Turner Mountain in Libby
Hit the slopes at Libby's Turner Mountain, where you'll find excellent snow conditions, wide-open slopes, beautiful scenery, affordable lift tickets and no crowds. Combine all that with a vertical drop of 2,110 feet and 25 named runs and you have a successful day on the slopes.
3-Day Luxury Option: Wilderness Club in Eureka
Get cozy at Wilderness Club, a one-of-a-kind Montana resort complete with outdoor hot tubs, Nordic ski and snowshoe trails, sledding and tubing, ice skating, hiking and snowmobiling. Please note, there is a two-night minimum stay.
Day One: Downhill Ski Montana Snowbowl in Missoula
Hit the slopes at Montana Snowbowl. Located minutes from downtown Missoula, Snowbowl is a local favorite. With deep, powdery bowls and 2,600 feet of continuous vertical drop, it's an extremist's dream, while still offering plenty of runs for all skill levels. At the end of the day, make your way to Snowbowl's Last Run for their famous bloody marys and wood-fired pizza.
Day Two: Nordic Ski Lubrecht Forest or Garnet Ghost Town
Grab your Nordic skis and hit the trails in Western Montana's Blackfoot Corridor at the Lubrecht Experimental Forest or Garnet Ski Trails. Lubrecht offer 20 km of mostly loop trails that wind through pristine meadows and wooded terrain. Trails are groomed weekly, and the inner loops are very family-friendly. Garnet offers an extensive series of trails (186+ km), including the 51 km Garnet National Winter Recreation Trail through the beautiful and quiet Garnet Mountains. Ski into Garnet Ghost Town and even stay overnight in one of two rental cabins on the property, if you make reservations in advance.
Grab a burger at Seeley Chicken Coop & Lounge for lunch.
If you're up for a full day of Nordic skiing, you can spend your afternoon exploring the Seeley Lake Nordic Trails, or you can mix things up and rent fat bikes from Tamaracks Resort and ride on the trails on and around their property.
Dine in downtown Seeley lake and overnight in a cozy cabin at Tamaracks Resort.
Day Three: Snowmobile the Seeley Lake Area With Rich Ranch
Discover the scenic backwoods of the Seeley Lake region with the experienced guides at Rich Ranch, from which you have access to more than 600 miles of groomed trails, with another 1,000 miles of secondary trails and plenty of off-trail play areas.
Extend your trip and dine and stay at the Rich Ranch lodge or in one of their cozy cabins.
3-Day Luxury Option: The Resort at Paws Up
Book a stay at The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough and experience one of Montana's finest luxury resorts. Situated among a breathtaking Western Montana landscape, enjoy winter activities like fat biking, skijoring, snowmobiling and snow tubing. Please note, there is a two-night minimum stay.
Day One: Dog Sledding, Snowshoeing, Nordic Skiing With Base Camp Bigfork
Choose your adventure with the help of Base Camp Bigfork. Base Camp dog sledding provides a “hands on” approach where you can drive your own team of Inuit sled dogs. Or, rent some Nordic skis or snowshoes and head out to Bigfork's impressive network of trails.
Dine and shop in the storybook village of Bigfork, and overnight at Mountain Lake Lodge, where you'll find fireplace suites and outdoor hot tubs.
Day Two: Scenic Drive to Lakeside + Downhill Ski Blacktail Mountain
Enjoy the scenic landscape on a drive to Lakeside to ski Blacktail Mountain, where you'll find light, dry powder and brilliant views of Flathead Lake, Glacier National Park and the Mission Mountains.
Day Three: Snowshoe Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell
There are 7.5 miles of trails available for snowshoeing in Lone Pine State Park, and snowshoe rentals are available on-site for $5 per person or $10 per family. Enjoy breathtaking overlooks of Flathead Valley vistas. On a clear day, you can see Flathead Lake, Big Mountain, the Jewel Basin and Glacier National Park.
Then, take a craft beverage tour. Kalispell is home to numerous breweries, cideries, wineries and distilleries. Don't miss the Brash Winter Rodeo series or, time your visit right and experience the Whitefish Winter Carnival in February, which includes skijoring events.
3-Day Luxury Option: Snow Bear Chalets
Hit the slopes in under a minute from the front door of an exclusive treehouse chalet on Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort's Hope Slope. Snow Bear Chalets are literally on the slopes, for a true ski-in/ski-out experience. Trip Tip: Hope Slope is open for night skiing. Luxury amenities include private hot tubs and elegant fireplaces, stunning architecture with expansive windows, open main levels with overlooking lofts, outdoor decks with gorgeous treetop views and top-floor turret retreat rooms. Please note, there is a three-night minimum stay.
While July and August are the most popular times to visit Glacier National Park, the park is open—and lovely—year-round, and each season provides its own distinct experience within the Crown of the Continent. Plus, winter is one of the most peaceful times to visit the park. Our suggestion: Strap on a pair of snowshoes and head out along the east shore of Lake McDonald, or cross-country ski on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. For a complete map, visit . The trail system at Marias Pass is also a prime area for snowshoeing. Local outfitters, including Glacier Adventure Guides and Whitefish Outfitters and Tours, offer guided snowshoeing and cross-country excursions into the park.
If you go...
Many travelers to Montana wisely plan their trips to include both of our national parks: Glacier and Yellowstone. To help make the most of your time, we've put together several road-trip itineraries that offer authentic park-to-park experiences. For inspiration, visit Glaciers to Geysers.
Day One: Downhill Ski at Whitefish Mountain Resort
Spend your first day hitting the slopes at Whitefish Mountain Resort. With 3,000 acres of terrain, 111 marked trails, four terrain parks and a skier/boardercross course, vast amounts of bowl and tree skiing and a 3.3-mile-long run (Hellfire), Whitefish Mountain Resort is an ideal mountain for skiers and boarders of all experience levels. Take a break for lunch and warm up at their mountaintop restaurant. Plus, you'll be able to see views of both the Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park.
Ever been night skiing? Ski under the lights at Whitefish Mountain Resort on chairs 2, 3 and 6, including the terrain parks.
If you go...
Day Two: Cross-Country Ski at Izaak Walton Inn
The historic Izaak Walton Inn boasts more than 30 km of maintained Nordic ski trails, making it a world-class cross-country skiing destination. Whether you're a classic cross-country skier or an avid skate skier, you'll find incredible trails with just the right amount of terrain variability to satisfy all skill levels.
If you go...
Day One: Cross-Country Ski at Izaak Walton Inn
Start your journey at the historic Izaak Walton Inn in Essex. Located between Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, the Izaak Walton Inn is a quiet winter oasis that offers 30+ km of on-site groomed cross-country and skate-skiing trails. After a day in the mountains, unwind with dinner and local beer at the Dining Car in the Izaak Walton Inn.
Overnight in a lodge room, classic caboose or luxury rail car at the Izaak Walton Inn.
Day Two: Snowshoe or Nordic Ski the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Make your way to the snow-covered Going-to-the-Sun Road. During the winter, most of the road is closed to vehicular travel as snowfall creates a sanctuary for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The road is plowed from the west entrance to Lake McDonald Lodge, and snow lovers can access the road just past the lodge.
Day Three: Snowmobile Canyon Creek
For adrenaline-pumping fun, set out on a guided tour with Swan Mountain Outfitters for a guided two-hour, half-day, full-day or twilight snowmobile tour of the Canyon Creek trail system just north of Columbia Falls. Take in spectacular ridge views and play in deep powder bowls before summiting Whitefish Mountain Resort. See jaw-dropping views of the Canadian Rockies, Glacier National Park and the Flathead Valley.
Overnight at ROAM Beyond in Columbia Falls.
If you go...
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