O/B Hit List: Small-Town Skiing

Small-town skiing Outside Bozeman

O/B Hit List: Small-Town Skiing

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Cordelia Pryor

Take a road trip to one of Montana’s hidden gems.

No sane skier would complain about the alpine opportunities we have here in Bozeman. But sometimes, we find ourselves longing for a more Old Montana experience: short lift lines, homestyle grub that doesn’t break the bank, and cozy, laid-back lodges with ample room to kick off our boots and après by the fire. Luckily for us, there are a half-dozen small-town ski hills within striking distance of Bozeman. That means that thousands of acres of highly skiable terrain lie just off the beaten path, waiting for you to load up the car and discover the big white world beyond the Bozone.

Maverick Mountain Outside Bozeman
All alone at Maverick

Who: Anyone who dreams of untouched tree turns, crisp corduroy carving, or quick laps with little chair time. If you’re ready to break away from your Slushman’s routine, explore a new part of our great state, and get back into a slow Montana-style mosey, skip the popular resorts for a weekend and seek out the charms of small-town ski hills.

Lost Trail Ski Area
Goin' deep at Lost Trail

What: A weekend away in small-town Montana means endless opportunity for discovery. Not to mention skiing, dining, and family fun at a fraction of the normal cost. Lift tickets average about $50, and many mountains are an easy 2-3 hours away. While you’re there, enjoy new restaurants, Nordic trails, hot springs, and whatever else you can dig up. What are you waiting for? Get out your calendar and start scheming.

 Plenty of room to move at Red Lodge

When: Any time you can get out there—to dodge the Saturday-Sunday masses or to take a breather from the holiday-weekend crowds. If you really want to avoid other skiers, consider a mid-week getaway. Just be sure to check open dates, as some small hills are closed Monday-Wednesday—which often means a powder day on Thursday.

Where: With a wide variety of options, this part is the most fun. Maverick Mountain, outside Dillon? Showdown, near White Sulphur Springs? Discovery Ski Area (aka, Disco) near Butte? Regardless of which hill you hit, new trails, friendly faces, and outdoor opportunity await. Our favorites include Red Lodge Mountain, about an hour south of Billings, and Lost Trail Ski Area, in the southern end of the Bitterroot Valley. For a Lost Trail trip, head through the beautiful, wide-open Big Hole Valley to find endless tree runs, open glades, and long, fast groomers. When your quads scream for mercy, retire to Lost Trail Hot Springs to unwind, chow down, sleep, and repeat.

Discovery Ski AreaDiscovery's back side is legendary

Why: Because living in a beautiful state chock-full of outdoor fun should obligate you to explore and squeeze out every last drop. Because you’ve taken enough laps on Pierre’s Knob to rename the thing. Because variety is the spice of life—diversify your terrain choices and explore Montana’s old-school vibe. The snow will be great, the tickets and food affordable, and the people as friendly as ever. We promise Bridger and Big Sky will still be here when you return.

Need more motivation? Visiting a small-town ski area is on our Winter Hit List, which means no matter where you go, or how you enjoy your time, you can enter to win our gear giveaway by tagging us in your photos on Instagram or Facebook (#OBHitList). Our favorite shot scores two tickets for a day of skiing at Lost Trail. And don’t forget, whoever completes the most Hit List items this season wins the ultimate prize: a cornucopia of spoils from the O/B Treasure Chamber.

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