November 26, 2010 in Awayfinder destinations

Whitefish Mountain Resort gears up for record-breaking fun

Renee Sande Awayfinder Correspndent
 
Brian Schott photo

Though at least four hours away from the Spokane area, Whitefish is quite a draw, with long runs and large amounts of fresh powder.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

“This is the earliest we’ve had this much snow,” said Donnie Clapp, public relations manager at Whitefish Mountain Resort, who was clearly stoked as of Oct. 29.

Just two days earlier the settled base at the popular Montana ski spot was already at 37 inches—just 2 inches shy of opening day of the big winter of 2007-08 and 6 inches more than opening day of the equally big winter of 2008-09. Viva La Nina!

“Skiing the Fish,” as locals call it, is quite extraordinary, which is why so many winter enthusiasts from Eastern Washington and North Idaho are happy to make the four-plus hour drive multiple times throughout the ski season.

However, if you’re interested in alternative modes of transportation, Glacier Park International Airport is just 19 miles from Whitefish Mountain Resort and is served daily with flights from Seattle via Alaska/Horizon. Then there’s Amtrak’s “Empire Builder” which leaves Spokane at 1:30 a.m. Just lay your head down and wait for the whistle to blow at 7:30 a.m. and you’ll arrive in time for a quick breakfast before hittin’ the hill.

Starting at 4,464 feet with a summit reaching almost 7,000 feet, there’s 3,000 acres of insane amounts of stellar powder to swoosh through. With an impressive selection of 94 marked trails and vast amounts of bowl and tree skiing, ranging from beginner to expert—the majority falling somewhere in between—there’s no doubt you’ll find what you’re looking for at Whitefish.

Add to the amazing terrain, great prices and deals to be had, plus the nice comfortable skiing temperatures ranging from 17 to 32 degrees, and you can bet if it isn’t already, Whitefish will soon become one of your favorite destinations for wintertime fun.

For only $69, all ages, you can get two consecutive days of beginner lift tickets, gear rentals and two half-day lessons. Not bad, considering adult lift tickets cost $64/day.

If you’re a senior, 70 years of age and older, you’re considered a Super Senior at, and get to ski free all day and night! Children 6 years of age and younger also ski free and military members enjoy a 50 percent discount.

When it comes to runs, you’ve a smorgasbord to choose from. If you’re up for a long one full of twists and turns and plenty of whooping, be sure not to miss the incredible 3.3 mile run—Hellfire. If you’re more on the beginner/refresher course side, Whitefish is also your friend with 15 percent of the hill dedicated to this skill level.

If your kiddos are just too young however to be part of the downhill fun yet or if you’re leaving the instruction up to the professionals, Whitefish offers a huge, professionally run and convenient Kids Center. With a range of child care (including infants with call-ahead reservation) and ski and play options for your kids, the Center is located on Level II of the Base Lodge, and makes a day of adult fun on the mountain a cinch.

Looking for a unique, adventurous dining experience—possibly combined with night skiing? Then check out their Moonlight Dine & Ski package. In January, you can take a breathtaking chairlift ride up to the Summit House restaurant, where at their highest peak you’ll enjoy a gourmet dinner while overlooking the snowcapped peaks of Glacier National Park and the sparkling lights of Flathead Valley. When you’re done, you can either ride the lift down or follow experienced instructors for the run of your life—in the moonlight. (Advanced reservations required; adults $67.85, children $33.93.)

Another great adventure awaits you with Snowcat Adventures and their Valhalla Powder Skiing experience. For deep powder with open glades and enough terrain to match your ability, this backcountry adventure is just what the snow gods ordered (starting at $325/pp).

For the shredders in the family, Whitefish Mountain is the place to be. With three terrain parks, from beginner to advanced, mountain staff groom and maintain park features daily, spending over 4,000 man hours and 1,000 snowcat hours to keep them in impeccable condition. Throughout the season, the Mountain hosts ten Terrain Park/Freestyle events that are said to be some of the best around, so be sure to check out the online schedule for dates.

When you’ve had your fill of snow and you’re need to fill your tank, head down to the Hellroaring Saloon and Eatery, ranked one of the best après-ski bars in ski country by Skiing Magazine.

Located in the original 1949 Chalet, right in the middle of the slopes at the top of the Upper Village, the bar and restaurant offers the epitome of the ski hill’s mantra of “no worries.” With a fun and lively, but cozy atmosphere, and outstanding panoramic views of the Flathead Valley, it’ll be just the restorative break you’re looking for.

For even more restoration, visit Remedies Day Spa for a relaxing massage such as a Honey & Cream Hot Rock Foot Rub, Basic Massage, or for little ones, Growing Pains Massage. All treatment products are made fresh when you arrive, with all natural ingredients assuring the utmost attention to health and wellness.

For lodging, Whitefish Mountain Resort offers a variety of unique on-mountain properties for every budget and group size. A great pre-holiday getaway, their Home for the Holidays package, available December 17-24, includes lift tickets and lodging—buy 2+ nights, get the last night free. In the New Year, take advantage of their Hibernation House package. For $75 per person, two-night minimum stay, the package includes lift tickets and lodging at the Hibernation House, any days Monday through Friday.

When you’re finally ready to come down off the mountain (many never are), catch one of the free daily resort shuttles into the beautiful picturesque town of Whitefish. A real Montana town, Whitefish “…is complete with multi-generation local families and a friendly, small-town vibe,” boasting world-class restaurants, vibrant night-life, diverse shopping, two local theater companies and more.

But it’s not just Whitefish’s skiing and attractions that will want you coming back for more. Like the upcoming season, Whitefish personalities are big and welcoming, so don’t be surprised if you’re sad when you leave. Just know that it may soon become one of your “home-away-from-home” destinations.

For more info, www.skiwhitefish.com

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