|Winter in the Region
Legendary Powder and a Wonderland of Winter Activities
IMAGINE that you learn about a place where
there are three unique ski areas—two with the largest vertical
drops in the United States and one being the first U.S. destination
ski resort—all within a few hour’s drive or less than an hour’s
flight from each other.
IMAGINE that a good part of what separates
the three ski areas from one another is the world’s first
and greatest national park. The park is home to thousands
of thermal springs steaming through the snow, as well as massive
herds of bison and elk.
IMAGINE a place where the snow is deep mountain
powder and the atmosphere ranges from European ski village
to pure American cowboy.
THEN IMAGINE that all of the above not only
actually exists, but is affordable, accessible and uncrowded.
Welcome to Winter in The Real America, where Jackson Hole,
Big Sky and Sun Valley offer world-class skiing experiences.
All three resorts are located close to Yellowstone National
Park, which features unparalleled winter adventure.
In Wyoming, Jackson Hole Ski Resort boasts 2,500 acres (1013
hectares) of terrain, including 22 miles (35km) of beginner
and intermediate runs. It’s known around the world as “The
Big One,” and the chutes, tree runs, and famous couloirs are
generally agreed to be the most challenging expert skiing
in America. Jackson Hole offers a vertical drop of 4,139 ft.
In Montana, Big Sky Ski & Summer Resort now claims the most
vertical drop of any U.S. ski area, 4,180 ft. or 1274m (edging
out Jackson by 41 ft. or 12.5m) and is located between Bozeman
and Yellowstone National Park. Big Sky offers 80 trails on
two mountains, with 10% beginner, 47% intermediate, and 43%
expert slopes. The longest run is three miles (4.8km).
Located in the shadow of Glacier National Park in Whitefish,
Montana, Big Mountain is famous for snow-ghosts, vast ski
and snowboard terrain, unsurpassed views, and a relaxed, family-friendly
environment. Big Mountain has been rated as the number one
ski resort in Montana for four years running in Ski Magazine’s
Top Resort Guide.
In Idaho, Sun Valley is one of the preferred U.S. ski resorts
of Ski Magazine readers in their latest poll. It is the nation’s
first destination ski resort and an historic playground for
Hollywood stars. The 77 runs, including Dollar Mountain, have
a remarkably consistent vertical pitch, and some runs stretch
up to three miles (4.8km) long. Bald Mountain, or “Baldy,”
has been called “the greatest mountain in the world” by Gretchen
Fraser, America’s first Olympic skiing gold medalist. Picabo
Street, America’s current gold medalist, lives and skis in
Sun Valley. The vertical drop is 3,400 ft. (1036m).
Schweitzer Mountain Resort averages over 300 inches (7.62m)
of snowfall a season and features a 2,400 ft. (732m) vertical
drop. Silver Mountain, in Kellogg, offers the world’s longest
The skiing in the Yellowstone region doesn’t stop there. Idaho
offers Bogus Basin and Brundage (both at 1,800 ft., 549m),
and shares deep-powder star Grand Targhee (2,200 ft., 671m)
with Wyoming. In addition to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort,
the Jackson Hole valley includes Snow King Ski Resort (1,571
ft., 479m). Montana boasts Bridger Bowl near Bozeman (2,000
ft., 610m), Red Lodge Mountain (2,016 ft., 614m) and Big Mountain
near Whitefish (2,300 ft., 701m).
The following airlines provide service to Jackson Hole, Big
Sky (via Bozeman) and Sun Valley.
Jackson Hole: American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Northwest
Airlines, and United Airlines.
Big Sky: Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Skywest Airlines,
and United Express.
Sun Valley: Skywest Airlines, Northwest Airlines and United
Big Mountain: Northwest Airlines, Delta Airlines and Skywest
The heavy powder snowfall in THE REAL AMERICA creates
conditions that are perfect for a snowmobile, snowcoach or
cross-country skiing vacation.
Each state has something that is very special to offer including
lodging, rentals, guides, and of course, the spectacular scenery
and wildlife you have come to expect from this region.
Yellowstone National Park is cloaked in steam, ice and snow
during the winter months when the park is open only to snowmobiles,
snowcoaches and cross-country skiers. Bison congregate around
thermal areas, providing excellent viewing opportunities.
The experience of seeing the grandeur of the towering waterfalls
in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the glory of Old
Faithful in the winter are unforgettable.
Accommodations, snowmobiles, ski rentals and motorcoach tours
are available inside the Park through Xanterra Parks & Resorts
and are also abundant in gateway areas including Jackson,
Moran, Cody, Wapiti Valley, Gardiner, Cooke City, Bozeman
and West Yellowstone.
Montana’s cross-country skiing stretches from border to border
under the state’s famous Big Sky. Glacier and Yellowstone
National Parks, as well as seven publicly owned national forests,
offer several hundred kilometers of
backcountry skiing. In addition, Montana has more than a dozen
cross country resorts with 285+ km of groomed trails.
Nearly all of Montana can boast of having groomed snowmobile
trails nearby. Flathead Valley, with Kalispell as its hub,
has four trail systems. The national forests near Butte, Missoula
and Helena offer 10 snowmobiling areas. West Yellowstone is
called the “Snowmobile Capital of the World,” and rightly
so. Snowmobiles are allowed on the town’s streets, and guides
and rentals are available in abundance for excursions into
Yellowstone National Park.
Wyoming also has extensive trails systems, but none is larger
than the Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail. Stretching from
Lander through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park,
the trail covers nearly 1,000 kilometers and is one of the
longest snowmobiling trails in America. The Bighorn Mountains
in north-central Wyoming and the Snowy Range/Sierra Madre
areas in southeastern Wyoming also offer hundreds of kilometers
of groomed snowmobile trails as well as designated cross-country
South Dakota’s Black Hills offer the most extensive and well-groomed
snowmobile trails in America, including 448 kilometers of
marked trails south of Spearfish to north of Custer. The area
also includes hundreds of kilometers of groomed cross-country
ski trails. Other winter activities can be found at Custer
State Park’s Wildlife Loop, Jewel Cave National Monument,
Wind Cave National Park, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
The 26,000-year-old Columbian and woolly mammoths at The Mammoth
Site and Evans Plunge, a natural warm spring, are both located
in Hot Springs and await your visit year-round. Deadwood’s
gaming and night life will fill your evenings as will country-western
dancing at many locations throughout the Black Hills.
Idaho has more than 8,000 kilometers of groomed snowmobile
trails. The Highway to Heaven Trail to the Sawtooth Mountains
stretches more than 280 kilometers out of Boise and is the
only mountain trail in the West that begins from a major city.
You can also use Wallace as your base to more than 1,600
kilometers of trails across the Idaho/Montana border, where
they have an open streets ordinance to allow snowmobiling
through town. Eastern Idaho has the world-famous loop trails
of the Greater Island Park Area. Only an hour from this resort
area is West Yellowstone and the West Gate of Yellowstone
Thanks to the wonderful heavy-powder snowfall in the Real
America, downhill ski resorts exist throughout the region,
ranging from local hills to deluxe resorts. They include the
following with 1,000 feet (305m) of vertical drop or more.
1. Bogus Basin, near Boise, vertical drop 1,800 ft. (549m)
2. Brundage, near McCall, vertical drop 1,800 ft. (549m)
3. Lost Trail Powder Mountain, Salmon, ID and Conner/Derby,
MT, vertical drop 1,200 ft. (366m)
4. Pebble Creek Ski Resort, near Pocatello, vertical drop
2,000 ft. (610m)
5. Pomerelle Ski Resort, near Albion, vertical drop 1,000
6. Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Sandpoint, vertical drop
2,400 ft. (732m)
7. Silver Mountain, Kellogg in the Coeur d’ Alenes, vertical
drop 2,200 ft. (670m)
8. Soldier Mountain Ski Resort, near Fairfield, vertical
drop 1,400 ft. (427m)
9. Sun Valley, vertical drop 3,400 ft. (1036m)
10. Big Mountain Ski Resort, Whitefish, vertical drop 2,300
11. Big Sky Ski Resort, vertical drop 4,180 ft. (1274m)
12. Bridger Bowl, near Bozeman, vertical drop 2,000 ft.
13. Discovery Basin, Anaconda, vertical drop 1,300 ft. (396m)
14. Great Divide, Marysville, vertical drop 1,330 ft. (405m)
15. Marshal Mountain, Missoula, vertical drop 1,500 ft.
16. Maverick Mountain, Dillon, vertical drop 2,120 ft. (646m)
17. Montana Snowbowl, Missoula, vertical drop 2,600 ft (792m)
18. Red Lodge Mountain, Red Lodge, vertical drop 2,016 ft.
19. Teton Pass, Fairfield, vertical drop 1,000 ft. (305m)
20. Showdown Ski Area, Neihart, vertical drop 1,400 ft.
21. Turner Mountain, Libby, vertical drop 2,110 ft. (643m)
22. Blacktail Mountain, vertical drop 1,440 ft. (439m)
23. Bear Paw Ski Area, Havre. vertical drop 900 ft. (274m)
24. Lookout Pass Ski Area, Saltese, vertical drop 850 ft.
25. Lost Trail Powder Mountain, Conner, vertical drop 1,800
26. Grand Targhee Ski Area, near Jackson, vertical drop
2,200 ft. (671m)
27. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, vertical drop 4,139 ft.
28. Snow King Mountain Ski Area, Jackson, vertical drop
1,571 ft. (479m)
29. Snowy Range Ski Resort, Laramie, vertical drop 1,000
30. White Pine Ski Area, Pinedale, vertical drop 1,000 ft.
31. Sleeping Giant Ski Area, Cody, vertical drop 600 ft.
(183m) South Dakota
32. Terry Peak, Lead, vertical drop 1,052 ft. (320m)
33. Deer Mountain, Lead, vertical drop 850 ft. (260m)
The heavy-powder snow in the Real America creates conditions
that are perfect for snowmobiles, snowcoaches, snowshoeing
or cross country skiing as well. For more information on all
the wonderful winter activities each of our states has to
offer, visit our Web site at www.RMI-RealAmerica.com.