PHOTO: Courtesy of Whitefish Mountain Resort
Whitefish, like Crested Butte, Telluride, or Sun Valley, is a quintessential ski town in the sense that you can do all your eating and drinking on one classic street that is as cute as a button, while the skiing is a short drive, bus ride, or hitch-hike away. The tree skiing here is as good as it is anywhere, the views of Glacier National Park are incredible, and the culture Montanian, which is to say, unpretentious, fun, and a little rough around the edges. Just the way a good ski town should be.
For a long time, Whitefish was known for its telemark community. They’re still out there, though their numbers are dwindling, mostly due to the efficiency of new touring gear. The ski resort allows uphill touring, but some of the best skiing in the area is elsewhere. The road to Glacier, along the Middle Fork, offers tremendous backcountry skiing opportunities, with big, steep lines and very few other skiers. When it’s socked in though, which it often is, the trees at Whitefish Mountain Resort will keep you headed in the right direction.
Where you’re skiing: The new (from last year) Flower Point chair connects skiers to good, steep trees both in-bounds and in the backcountry. The trees through Connie’s are steep and full of stashes. That will dump you into Hellroaring Basin, where the runout is full of rollers and side-jumps. For the longest sustained vertical, the Chair 5/Chair 4 lift line is hard to beat. If you want steep and technical, the routes through the East Rim are just that, although fairly short.
Where you’re eating: After skiing, grab some popcorn and cheep bears at the Bierstube. Say hey to Charlie and ask him for your free ring. In town, have a burger and a BFP at the Bulldog, or just go straight to the Great Northern, since you should end up there anyway. Oh, the parents are paying? The Tupelo Grille will be just fine.
Where you’re sleeping: The Hibernation House on the mountain has great ticket/lodging packages, and comes with a hot breakfast. In town, the Grouse Mountain Lodge has similar specials.