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Home >>> Region Attractions >>> Winter Activities

The heavy-powder snow in the Real America creates conditions that are perfect for snowmobiles, snowcoaches, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and other wonderful winter activities.

IMAGINE a place with 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. (1261m).

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 medallist. Picabo Street, America’s current gold medallist, 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 single-state gondola.
The skiing in the Yellowstone region doesn't’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).

Getting Here - 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 Airlines
  • Big Mountain - Northwest Airlines, Delta Airlines and Skywest Airlines

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 ski areas.

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 National Park.

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 ft (305m)
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 ft. (701m)
11. Big Sky Ski Resort, vertical drop 4,180 ft. (1274m)
12. Bridger Bowl, near Bozeman, vertical drop 2,000 ft. (610m)
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. (457m)
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. (614m)
19. Teton Pass, Fairfield, vertical drop 1,000 ft. (305m)
20. Showdown Ski Area, Neihart, vertical drop 1,400 ft. (427m)
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. (260m)
25. Lost Trail Powder Mountain, Conner, vertical drop 1,800 ft. (549m)


26. Grand Targhee Ski Area, near Jackson, vertical drop 2,200 ft. (671m)
27. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, vertical drop 4,139 ft. (1262m)
28. Snow King Mountain Ski Area, Jackson, vertical drop 1,571 ft. (479m)
29. Snowy Range Ski Resort, Laramie, vertical drop 1,000 ft. (305m)
30. White Pine Ski Area, Pinedale, vertical drop 1,000 ft. (305m)
31. Sleeping Giant Ski Area, Cody, vertical drop 600 ft. (183m) South Dakota

South Dakota

32. Terry Peak, Lead, vertical drop 1,052 ft. (320m)
33. Deer Mountain, Lead, vertical drop 850 ft. (260m)

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