"Amazing terrain!!! Amazing snow!!! Amazing lack of crowds!!! Amazingly low prices!!!" enthuses one reader, who may have a stuck exclamation-point key on his computer. He also trumpets Big Mountain's only real downside: "Amazing vertigo-inducing fog!!!" For the latter, most locals give thanks, because being socked in means it snows-a lot-and they've come to depend on their daily freshies. And when you have an XXL mountain like this, who can blame them? They call it 3,000 acres, but when you throw in the catskiing, hike-to stuff and all the deep-woods stashes, it skis more like 30,000 acres, each one a new experience. "Great place for the entire family," says one reader, because of perfect learning terrain like Hope Slope and Huckleberry Patch. Endless blues cover the entire mountain, from the night-skiing venue of Ed's Run to dramatic Gray Wolf, deep on the North Side. And for molar-grinding challenge, just look around you-anywhere. Try the big trees of Good Medicine and the unnamed glades of Bad Medicine, or test yourself on Picture Chutes. Wherever you ski, you can see the postcard-perfect peaks of nearby Glacier National Park. "The views are breathtaking and so are the slopes!" praises one reader. Plus there's always the friendly and funky town of Whitefish, just 10 minutes away with theater, music,classic neighborhood bars, real stores and some great restaurants (try Tupelo Grille and Wasabi Sushi). -J.C.
WHAT'S NEW The Morning Eagle condominium-lodge, the first project of the new $300 million Glacier Village.
A GOOD DEAL Early- and late-season lift tickets: $25, Nov. 28-Dec. 20; $20, April 1-13.
MEDALS GOLD Value, Scenery, Terrain, Challenge; SILVER Grooming, Service, Lifts, Family Programs, On-Mountain Food, Après, Snow, Dining.
HIGH/LOW RANK Value (6), Scenery (15), Terrain (25); Terrain Parks (34), Access (40), Weather (57).
DON'T MISS Resident bear expert Tim Rubbert gives free weekly slide presentations on the region's grizzlies.
READER REMARKS (+) "Great mountain, great town. I want to retire here." "Friendly service, great value." "Whitefish is wonderful." (-) "Gets very cold." "It's Montana, so it's hard to reach."
Great Lodging Deals here.