[Sponsored by: Red Lodge Mountain, MT]
Red Lodge, MT may just be the best place to live if you want to get after some turns all year long! Regular lift operations cover November 23rd until April 14th but uphill travel is permitted as long as there is snow to slide on. This means your season can start as soon as the snow starts to fall and can run well into April or as late as mid-May!
Red Lodge Mountain boasts unpretentious ski culture where big mountain skiing is prioritized over big mountain crowds and pricing. During the winter season, the average temperature is 31°F (-1°C), average snowfall is 250″ (6.35m) and there is a 70% chance of sunshine! Tucked away in the Beartooth range, you will find Montana’s highest elevation skiing with 2,400′ (730m) of skiable vertical. The resort includes 70 runs accessed by 6 chairs (and no lift lines) covering 1635 acres (660ha) of glades, chutes, trees and groomers (56% of which is advanced and expert terrain). If that’s not enough, backcountry gates open up a world of exploration.
Local extreme skier, Hans Howell says, “If you can see it, you can ski it”. Just be sure to be smart about backcountry travel, have the proper equipment, and knowledge of conditions and terrain.
You won’t have to settle for one lift-accessed ski season per year though, because after the winter season is over, Beartooth Basin opens from May 26th until July 7th. The ski area is accessed via Beartooth Pass; a seasonal highway (closed during the winter months) that climbs to 10,947 feet (3337m) in elevation. When the highway reopens in the summer, snowbanks taller than buses, RV’s and even the largest trucks line the approach to the ski area. Local hotels and campgrounds fill up with skiers and snowboarders for Beartooth’s opening weekend. Celebrations generally include hitchhike laps, hoots and hollars and the odd PBR to round out the weekend.
There’s a real skier’s vibe at Beartooth Basin. The steep, featured terrain lends itself to skiers who want to push themselves during the summer months. The large cornice at the top of the bowl often requires mandatory air just to start the run. Beartooth Basin is the perfect host to North America’s only summer-season Freeride World Tour Qualifier event. Freeriders flock to Montana in June to establish points for their upcoming season. Last season’s Women’s Ski Winner, Tracey Chubb says:
“The Beartooth’s are one of my favourite places in the world. You can camp and enjoy the warmth of summer down by the creek, wake up slow and wait for the snow to soften, and then go shred big steep lines in one of the most beautiful places ever.”
The good times don’t stop with opening weekend or the FWQ. Beartooth Basin hosts an annual summer solstice ski celebration where locals and visitors alike can ski until 9pm. If you are looking to celebrate skiing with true enthusiasts of the sport, Beartooth Basin summer solstice is the place to be! At >11,000 feet (3350m), the snow lasts through July, which only provides 2-3 months of reprieve before it starts all over again!