6 Best Montana Ski Resorts for Families

by Simon Knott | Updated On: June 27th, 2022
family in winter clothing

We may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.

Planning your next winter vacation? Struggling to pick a resort where you know everyone will be looked after and have fun, regardless of their age or ski ability? Well, we’ve got you covered with our list of the best Montana ski resorts for families.

Montana is blessed with some of the best powder in the country and our selection of resorts combine that with a warm welcome to families. Some resorts have a quieter more rural charm, like Discovery Ski Area and Lost Trail Powder Mountain, while Big Sky Resort and Red Lodge Mountain have the fun and excitement of larger resorts.

Most of the resorts have ski instruction for ages three and upwards and several are close to airports to simplify travel. Which resort is right for your family?

Our Top Picks

    1. Big Sky Resort

    big sky

    They called it Big Sky for a reason and spanning a total of 5850 acres it’s very apt, with more than enough for young and old to explore. Straddling the rugged northern Rockies, Big Sky is one of the largest resorts in North America.

    The popularity of Big Sky is undeniable but fortunately, its sheer size enables skiers to spread out, reducing lift queues and frantically busy runs.

    Fun for Kids

    Kids under six ski free and kids under 12 who enroll in a ski program get a free lift ticket on the day of their course. For the youngest skiers, between 3 to 6 years old, there is a mini ski camp, where lessons last half or a full day. If attention spans start to wander youngsters can transfer to the daycare of Lone Peak Playground.

    Family Skiing

    Family activities are inclusive at Big Sky. The skiing is over varied terrain, but at least 40% of trails are beginner or intermediate. Also, rather than limiting beginners to the lower runs, some blues and greens run down from the top to give great views.

    Off the Slopes

    Access to Big Sky resort is a breeze and families can fly into Bozeman’s international airport to make the easy 40-miles transfer by rental car. Big Sky has plenty of family-friendly lodging, most of which are ski-in ski-out and have outdoor hot tubs. Infrastructure is well developed with a ski bus to get around town to visit the varied restaurants and après ski attractions.

    What We Love About Big Sky, Montana

    • Big Sky Ski Resort covers a large area, with lots of trails for all abilities
    • The size of the resort means there is little crowding or queuing at lifts
    • Yellowstone National Park is only an hour away and is open throughout winter
    • Most of the lodging is ski-in ski-out

    Big Sky Stats

    Summit Elevation:11166 ft / 3403.40 metres
    Skiable terrain: 5800 acres
    Lifts:36
    Runs:317

    2. Bridger Bowl – Bozeman

    bridger-bowl
    Photo by John Eckman licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    The town of Bozeman is home to Montana State University and Bridger Bowl ski resort, while the airport shows its country style with open fires and dinosaur sculptures.

    Bridger Bowl Resort doesn’t have any of the airs and graces of a commercial ski resort and is run as a not-for-profit community-run project. The terrain extends to 2000 acres with 11 lifts servicing the hills.

    See also  8 Best California Ski Resorts for Families

    Fun for Kids

    There is a dedicated kid’s area and nursery slope lower down, although several blue trails run down from the north and south bowls to spread your wings on.

    Off the Slopes

    While it may not have the glitz and efficiency of a more expensive resort the savings you can make on lodging, eating out, and ski hire ensures it is always a popular destination.

    There is no lodging on the ski hill except for a few home rentals and B&Bs close by. Bozeman houses a good selection of chain hotels and motels, which are mostly situated around the exits off the interstate.

    Bridger Bowl regularly receives 350 in (8.9 m) of snow during the season and by a quirk of local climate, a lot of that snow is powder, known locally as cold smoke, which is beautifully dry and fluffy.

    What we love about Bridger Bowl

    • Bridger Bowl Ski Resort has very good beginner terrain
    • Bridger Bowl is a great option if you want to keep costs down
    • Some of the lifts can be on the slow side, but hey, you’re on vacation, relax!
    • There is plenty of steep and challenging inbound terrain, some requiring avalanche equipment.

    Bridger Bowl Stats

    Summit Elevation:8700 ft / 2651.76 metres
    Skiable terrain: 2000 acres
    Lifts:11
    Runs:105

    3. Whitefish Mountain Resort

    Whitefish Mountain Resort is close to Glacier National Park, in northwest Montana.

    Here the vibe is easy-going and relaxed with none of the high-tensile fashion brigades.

    It’s this old school ski town character that has endured and which visitors like so much, although like anywhere more upmarket shops and restaurants have started to appear.

    Fun for Kids

    The care for kids is a cut above many other resorts with the Kids Centre right on the snow hill inside Base Lodge. Here there are two programs for youngsters, the Play Program (ages 6 months to 6 years) offers kids a chance to play and rest, while their families enjoy skiing.

    Activities include storytelling, art, music, games, and playing outside. Snacks and lunch are provided for half and full-day programs.

    For kids who want to get out in the big wide world, there is the Ski/Ride Program, which includes on-snow lessons, along with break time as needed. The resort takes its health and safety responsibilities seriously and its safety procedures are clearly laid out on its website.

    Family Skiing

    While maybe slightly limited in expert terrain Whitefish Mountain Resort more than makes up for it with great beginner runs, fast groomed slopes, glades, bowls, and off-piste challenges.

    Off the Slopes

    There is plenty of lodging on the mountain, a lot of it conveniently ski-in ski-out, while in town a good selection of chain motels and hotels vie with rentals and condos, which are the most popular in Whitefish.

    What We Love About Whitefish Ski Resort

    • Except during vacations lift lines and busy slopes don’t happen
    • Whitefish Big Mountain is family-friendly
    • Whitefish Montana is an authentic ski town that’s close to the resort
    • Glacier National Park is close by

    Whitefish Ski Resort Stats

    Summit Elevation:6817 ft / 2078 metres
    Skiable terrain: 3000 acres
    Lifts:14
    Runs:

    4. Lost Trail Powder Mountain

    losttrail
    Photo by Forest Service Northern Region licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Lost Trail Powder Mountain resort has been family-owned and runs since 1938. Rurally located in the wilds of Montana without any nearby population the resort has developed a renowned reputation for the highest falls of powder in the state.

    See also  9 Best Washington Ski Resorts for Families

    Family Skiing

    The resort is only operated for 4-5-days a week (Thursday to Sunday), which adds to its low-key, relaxed family-friendly feel.

    Lost Trail Powder Mountain sits on top of the Bitterroot and Salmon-Challis National Forest areas, which in turn straddle the Idaho and Montana border. With no conventional resort as such, the parking lot and Lodge House are located midway up the mountain at about 7000 ft.

    Fun for Kids

    Two lifts take skiers to the summit of one of the mountains from where there is plenty of intermediate terrains, as well as off-piste trails with exotic-sounding names like Shark Fin, Hollywood Bowl, and Sacjac Trees. There are simpler green and blue runs lower down which trail between the trees and are ideal for younger skiers.

    There are also two terrain parks, one of which, Frontcountry Park, offers rails, boxes, wallrides, and kickers.

    Off the Slopes

    The rural location does provide an element of exclusivity but also means a short drive to find lodging. The nearby small towns of Darby and Hamilton have a selection of well-priced chain hotels and motels.

    A day away from the slopes, nearby Jackson Hot Springs Lodge will soothe away your skiing aches and pains in the natural waters of the Hot Springs Pool.

    What We Like About Lost Trail Powder Mountain Resort

    • This is an authentic, no-frills family-run skiing destination
    • Lost Trail Powder Mountain Resort has a reputation for the highest powder snowfall in Montana
    • If you enjoyed undeveloped, wild open spaces,. Lost Trail Powder Mountain Resort will appeal
    • There are now many more economical lodging options in nearby towns

    Lost Trail Powder Mountain Resort Stats

    Summit Elevation:8200 ft / 2499 metres
    Skiable terrain: 1800 acres
    Lifts:8
    Runs:69

    5. Red Lodge Mountain

    Near the Wyoming border and among the Beartooth Mountains, Red Lodge Mountain has the upside of big mountain fun but without the drawbacks of queues and eye-watering prices. It is family-friendly with a solid program of tuition for those aged three and above.

    On the slopes, 19% of runs are classed as beginners, with an equal spread of runs across other abilities. There are two terrain parks, the Beginner Park, located on Miami Beach, as well as an intermediate/advanced park. The snowfall may fall short of some other Montana resorts but at 250 inches per season, the difference is academic.

    Fun for Kids

    For slightly older kids, from 7-12 years, Trailblazer lessons are similarly versatile, offering different lesson lengths and individual or group tuition. Teen lessons (13+) and adults have their programs in a similar format.

    Family Skiing

    Wrangler lessons aimed at year 3, and years 4 to 6 can be booked as individual or group sessions and the instructors are confident enough in their skills to offer a ‘Get Better Guarantee’. The packages include lift tickets, rental, and tuition.

    Off the Slopes

    The nearby town of Red Lodge still has an old-west style feel. All the shops and amenities cluster around the main street and a few blocks around. There is ample well-priced lodging, as well as chain and independent restaurants.

    See also  3 Best Connecticut Ski Resorts for Families

    What We Like About Red Lodge Mountain

    • For families on a budget, Red Lodge Mountain offers a real deal
    • Skiing lessons for youngsters to teenagers, come with a guarantee
    • Guess who’s going to be heading for the beginner terrain park
    • Red Lodge Mountain Resort has a safe and laid-back vibe where you can relax

    Red Lodge Mountain Resort Stats

    Summit Elevation:9416 ft / 2870 metres
    Skiable terrain: 1635 acres
    Lifts:7
    Runs:70

    6. Discovery Ski Area

    Known to regulars as ‘Ski Disco’ the Ski Discovery Resort in the Rocky Mountains is an hour west of Butte’s airport connections. The remote location means lodging ranges over nearby towns such as Anaconda, Philipsburg, and Georgetown Lake, where you can find reasonable B&Bs, hotels, and rentals.

    Fun for Kids

    The Kinder program, for the youngest aged 3-6, is designed as a gentle introduction to snow sports. Group sizes are kept small, and activities include games, using your imagination, and developing independence and confidence.

    For 7–12-year-olds Kid Kruizers gives kids a chance to learn to ski or snowboard or consolidate their existing knowledge. Groups are chosen to reflect similar ages and abilities to maximize learning. Working together in a group with similar abilities soon breaks down anxieties and improves skills.

    Family Skiing

    The Lodge on the mountainside is an ideal spot to warm up and enjoy hot and cold snacks from the concessions. A large deck at the back of the building is a popular spot to watch skiers heading down the mountain. Ski Disco offers a comprehensive ski program for kids, which can be booked on the website or directly at The Lodge.

    Off the Slopes

    Ski Disco has three distinct ski areas, easier on the front face, moguls, and steeper runs off the Granite Chair, while the backside is challenging off-piste. With 2200 acres of patrolled terrain queues are rare and nearly 20 miles of cross-country ski trails are a great way to relax in the winter forests close to the shores of Echo and Georgetown Lakes.

    What We Like About Ski Discovery Resort

    • Ski Disco is a more rural resort so there are fewer crowds
    • Ski education for kids is well thought out, with matched ages and abilities
    • The cross-country ski trails make a great alternative to the runs
    • The resort is more remote but with good connections via nearby Butte

    Discovery Ski Area Resort Stats

    Summit Elevation:8150 ft / 2484 metres
    Skiable terrain: 2400 acres
    Lifts:8
    Runs:74

    Why Choose Montana for Skiing

    The numerous ski resorts in Montana have everything a family will need to have a great ski and snowboard session. From licensed daycare services that care for young children, trails that cater to all degrees of skill, ski and snowboard schools, and other activities to keep both the parents and the children engaged throughout the day. Round it out with a tasty dinner and sleep the fatigue away comfortably before rising up on a new day, energized and eager for a new adventure with the whole family.

    How Did We Order This List?

    To help rank our top selection of ski resorts for this list we compared the following ranking factors:

    👨‍👩‍👦 Ranking Factor📈 Power to affect Rank
    Amount of Beginner Trails (Mi) 4x
    Amount of Skiing Area (Mi) 3x
    Cost of two adult tickets + child ticket1x
    How many magic carpet lifts1x

    We gave each factor its own weighting depending on how important we feel it is for family fun across all ages. For example, a resort with more beginner trails is higher ranked than a resort with a lower-priced family ticket – with all else being equal. That’s because while cost is a factor, it’s not a primary one. We may also use our editorial judgment to remove or add resorts that we believe should make a list.

    When taking all of this into account, it gives us our awesome list above. We hope it was helpful in planning your next family ski vacation.

    View Map

    Best Ski Resorts for Families In Montana

    About Us

    NewToSki.com is where over 1 million people a year come to learn more about skiing. I founded this website so I could share everything that I wish someone had told me, when I started learning to ski in 2005. As seen in Yahoo, HowStuffWorks, MSN. Learn More