While ski resorts around the U.S. continue to jack up prices (“Vail Resort: $160 Lift Ticket Now Reality”) downhill skiing can still be found for cheap in Montana. These five small ski areas, scattered around the big state, give local flair, good skiing, and extras like front-row parking and first-run potential through virgin pow.
1. Bridger Bowl— Looking for fresh tracks in Bozeman? Skip the crazy lines at Big Sky Resort and head over to Bridger Bowl instead. Long touted as “where the local’s ski,” this community-owned ski area is home to silver-hair residents and college-age ski bums alike. Beginner and intermediate runs dominate the lower mountain. The higher elevation areas give hike-in terrain along the famed Ridge. (All-day adult ticket, $45 – $55)
2. Lost Trail Powder Mountain— In the foothills of the Bitterroot Range, locals have been known to take advantage of Lost Trail’s “Powder Thursdays,” when the lifts start running again after a midweek closure. This gem offers acres of terrain without the crowds, meaning you spend more time slashing powder turns and less time standing in lines. ($32 – $40)
3. Discovery Basin Ski Area— Disco, as the locals call it, packs a punch. Front side slopes feature family-friendly cruisers and stunning views. Steep chutes and untouched snow on the mountain’s backside are just a few of the reasons to put this on your list. After filling your powder quota, try out the trail’s namesake beer at nearby Philipsburg Brewing Company. ($32 – $42)
4. Maverick Mountain— An eccentric little ski area primarily used by the residents of nearby Dillon, Maverick is a hidden gem. The mom-and-pop mountain is home to one chairlift and nearly 2,000 feet of vertical terrain. Make sure to stop by the nearby Jackson or Elkhorn hot springs, where the waters will rejuvenate riders after a long day on the slopes. ($25 – $35)
5. Red Lodge Mountain— This independently-owned resort rivals many mainstream mountains and its skiing is among Montana’s best. Every spring, the town hosts the National Ski-Joring Finals where horses tow cowboys and cowgirls on skis over jumps at full speed. ($43 – $51)
—See the full spread of Montana ski resorts at the state’s dedicated travel site.