The northwest corner of Montana used to be a tough place to reach, a situation that suited many locals just fine. Its location off the beaten path meant that the sprawling terrain of Whitefish Mountain Resort on Big Mountain belonged to them and a relative handful of regular visitors. Some of those visitors, refugees from ski towns and mountains in the East or the Rockies that had gone glitz, settled down. Life was good.
Catching spectacular WMR buried in snow—as you often will—reassures you that there is still skiing this beautiful, affordable and uncrowded left on the planet. Catching it on a foggy day—as you often will—makes you wonder what planet you're on. Make friends with the fog (some find it intimate and intriguing) and you'll have a lifelong love affair with the resort. ""Fog Mountain" - keeps its snow good though," is the message of many. And it's true. With two new high-speed quads and a sprawling $11 million daylodge to appease them, readers repeatedly chant the "great value/no crowds" mantra that is Whitefish Mountain Resort's one-two punch. Big Mountain itself remains a skier's hill, with "huge groomers, great treeskiing and lots of glades and bowls to explore." In addition, "one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to" is a frequent comment and the reason why it ranks No. 10 in Scenery. If WMR is sometimes judged to be light on nightlife, then visitors have not made the easy drive to nearby Whitefish, which continues to resist gentrification and remains one of the last real ski towns standing. - J.C.
A needed $10-million upgrade to the road into Whitefish; two new on-mountain restaurants; expanded terrain park with additional snowmaking
For $70, stay at the slopeside Hibernation House, lifts and breakfast included.
Full-moon dinner and ski run at the Summit House on top of Big Mountain; the Euro-Creole at the Cafe Kandahar
Toni Matt, the definitive Western cruiser, with a crank-it-up pitch that makes you laugh out loud