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Whitefish Mountain is the greatest ski resort in the U.S. that nobody back East has ever heard of. It sits on the western edge of Glacier National Park in far northwest Montana, right on the Canadian line. On the sides not bounded by the national park it is surrounded by wilderness, national forest and a wildlife refuge. Whitefish offers 3000 acres of skiiable terrain (for comparison, Aspen has 675 acres, Jackson Hole 2500 acres and Winter Park 3100 acres). There is no airport within a reasonable distance and the nearest interstate is half a state away. In the Winter, Whitefish is accessible only one way : by the most scenic railroad route in the nation. Amtrak's famous Empire Builder runs from Chicago to Seattle daily and stops at Whitefish on the way. The ski resort is served by the town of Whitefish, one of America's great ski communities. snow ghosts
Powder Whitefish is not as big as Winter Park, not as challenging as Jackson Hole, and not as fashionable as Vail or Aspen. But it has its own advantages. It has deeper and finer powder than any of them. It has more natural snow than any other resort, 650 inches a year compared to 300 at Jackson Hole, 260 at Vail and 400 at Whistler. It is certainly big enough to occupy your time for four or five days. Being less accessible and less known, it is much less crowded, meaning lift lines are shorter, the slopes themselves are less busy, and it's easier to get a table in restaurants. It costs less even with higher transportation costs to get there. The vibe is a lot different. This is the most down to earth, good ole boy, welcome to our place atmosphere of any major resort. Even the staff in the lodges, restaurants and on the slopes are friendly. Every one of our readers who has ever tried Whitefish has come back a huge fan.
Do not think of the train trip as a burden. It's one of the best reasons to try Whitefish. This trip will make a huge Amtrak fan out of you. We've had readers come back and describe the experience as a magnificent train trip with a little skiing thrown in as a bonus. We know people who make a Whitefish expedition every year, rather than going somewhere else, just because Whitefish includes the Empire Builder. Amtrak
ice ghosts Whitefish is special for all the reasons we've already mentioned, but it is also unique for another reason. It is the only major ski resort in the Rockies which is on the western slope. All the others face east. Because of that, Whitefish not only gets more snow, particularly more powder snow, but it gets ice fogs at night, which coat the trees and create wierd landscapes which look like something out of a Pixar fantasy. Except that at Whitefish, you get to ski through this fantasy landscape.
You'll also fall in love with the town. Whitefish is the most authentic ski town anywhere. This is because it has its own year round existence as a center for timbering, hunting, fishing, and various rangers, biologists, wildlife managers and other professionals working for the national park, national forests and wildlife reserves. It was here before the ski resort and does fine during the off season. Skiing is just one more aspect to its economy. So when you go into a restaurant along the one main street, you're as likely to sit next to a timber cutter, Elk hunter or ice fisherman as a fellow skiier. Whitefish town
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