Home / Lifestyle / Whitefish is Montana's winter vacation destination

Whitefish is Montana's winter vacation destination

Whitefish Mountain boasts a great ski experience with views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Whitefish Mountain boasts a great ski experience with views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

They call it Big Sky Country for a reason.

Bundled up and ready to hit the slopes in Montana, I ascended 6,817 feet up The Big Mountain passing snow-covered fir forests against a breathtaking backdrop of the Canadian Rockies . This, I thought, must be the chairlift to heaven.

At the summit, I strapped on my goggles, lifted my ski poles and went soaring down the mountain.

It was winter in Montana.

The first thing that strikes you about this Western wonderland is the vast wide-open space where you’re more likely to run into a moose than your neighbor. The fourth-largest state is a playground for elk, bald eagles, coyotes and cowboys. I was lucky enough to run into all the above in my four-day stay.

Whitefish Mountain Resort (skiwhitefish.com), at The Big Mountain in northwestern Montana, is west of Glacier National Park and 21 miles north of the city of Kalispell. The resort averages 300 inches of snow a year, and boasts 3,000 acres of skiable terrain.

For $ 75, novice skiers get two days’ worth of the following: half-day lessons, lower-mountain lift tickets and equipment rentals.

For snow bunnies looking for a mix of sports and glamping, the “Two-Montana-Vacations-in-One” winter package at The Resort at Paws Up (pawsup.com) offers the best of both worlds. You spend two to three days skiing at The Big Mountain, then head south to a desolate 37,000-acre ranch in Greenough for winter activities like hiking, snowshoeing and sleigh riding.

The Paws Up chalets at The Big Mountain are the perfect place to hot tub or make s’mores. The package comes complete with a private chef, roaring fireplace and outdoor hot tub to soak in views of the purple mountain tops.

City girl turned cowgirl: Daily News reporter Jeanette Settembre saddles up to winter horseback riding at Paws Up Resort.

City girl turned cowgirl: Daily News reporter Jeanette Settembre saddles up to winter horseback riding at Paws Up Resort.

Upon my arrival, I fueled up with a ranch-to-table breakfast of hearty elk and eggs , paired with a huckleberry mimosa. Huckleberry is the state’s most abundant fruit, grown at elevations between 3,500 and 7,200 feet in northwestern Montana .

Two hours south of The Big Mountain on Highway 83, my “Two-Montana-Vacations-in-One” rustic chic adventure continued in Greenough, a small town nestled in the heart of the Blackfoot Valley.

Ten miles from the stunning Blackfoot River and 35 minutes northeast of Missoula, I set up camp in Paws Up Wilderness Estate. This stunning working cattle ranch boasts 28 luxury homes and 30 glamping tents. Our cabin came complete with three master suites, a fireplace and spacious porch adorned with rocking chairs .

Our first outward bound activity was a snowshoeing hike. It took me a few minutes to adjust to the footwear made for walking over the snow, but once I got the hang of it, it was like floating on powder. Our trail went over the Blackfoot River and through the Ponderosa woods as the aroma of vanilla-scented tree bark filled the air.

I climbed up Lookout Rock, a 167-foot rock where explorer Meriweather Lewis once stood. Once you reach the top, take in the majestic Blackfoot River below, but proceed with caution if you attempt a selfie.

Back at our lux cabin, we relaxed with a huckleberry Moscow mule (Montana’s signature sip), a delicious cocktail made with vodka, ginger beer and lime juice. For dinner, we were served a rainbow trout — Montana’s No. 1 game fish — and a juicy bison rib-eye . Our chef prepared each entree with a flight of locally brewed IPAs. A must-try is the Trout Slayer Wheat Ale made by Big Sky Brewing Co. in Missoula.

Another must-do activity at the Paws Up Wilderness Estate is winter horseback riding, which costs $ 80 per person for an hour-long adventure through the meadow with an expert trainer. During the ride, you’ll spot wildlife like bald eagles and moose roaming the trails.

A-listers have been discovering the West’s best-kept secret. Last summer, Gwyneth Paltrow came horseback riding at the Paws Up ranch here with her kids . Even the Kardashians took a recent trip to Bozeman to hit the slopes.

Moscow mules in the hot tub at Paws Up Resort at Whitefish Mountain.Jeanette Settembre

Moscow mules in the hot tub at Paws Up Resort at Whitefish Mountain.

John Steinbeck summed up my outward bound adventure best,

“I am in love with Montana.”

If you go…

Getting there: – If you’re heading to Whitefish Mountain Resort, Delta Airlines has flights to Glacier Park International Airport for about $ 1,159 roundtrip.

– If you’re heading to Greenough, Delta Airlines offers flights to Missoula starting at $ 885 roundtrip.

Stay: The Resort at Paws Up , Greenough, Mont. The “Two-Montana-Vacations-in-One” package costs $ 1,654 per person, per night. It includes three meals per day, complimentary house beer and wine and one activity per person, per day (snowmobiling, horseback riding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, etc.). All on-property transportation is included as well as transportation between Whitefish Mountain Resort and the Paws Up ranch. (877) 588-6764; pawsup.com

Do: In Missoula, check out Big Sky Brewing Co. Sip free samples of IPAs on a mezzanine that looks right into the brewhouse. Tours are offered on weekdays. Check bigskybrew.com for more info and hours.

jsettembre@nydailynews.com

Lifestyle – NY Daily News

Twitter Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com
Read previous post:
Wilmer Valderrama, Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera, & More Attend Voto Latino’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebration In Washington, D.C.!

Washington, D.C. may be a tad more known for its politics than its celebrity culture, but VotoLatino changed all of...

Close