Blacktail Mountain is a mid-sized resort located on the western side of Flathead Lake in Montana. Located about 3 hours north of Missoula, this 1000-acre ski area prides itself on being different from the rest of the resorts in Montana. And it succeeds. From the small resort feel to the “lodge at the peak” layout, there is something special about Blacktail. The mountain features 25 named runs and a top vertical of 1440 feet. There are four lifts that service the mountain; two doubles, one triple, and a rope tow ferry 3900 skiers per hour around the mountain.
Getting Around the Mountain
When you first arrive at the mountain, you’re going to notice that the layout at Blacktail is a little different from your standard ski resort. You’re almost at the peak and you get to ski first, then hit a chairlift. The 25 named runs sprawl out across the resort with a difficulty mix of 15% beginner, 70% intermediate, and 15% expert.
Beginner skiers can start right from the lodge, warming up at Never-ever Land, a small beginner’s area serviced by a short rope tow. Once they are ready, there are two runs, Cold Camp and the unfortunately-named Widow Maker lead to the base of the Olympic Triple. There are two other beginner-rated runs, but they require traversing intermediate runs to access. That being said, Crossover is a long loping cruiser that goes across the mountain, and is well worth the trek, if just for the view.
Intermediate skiers will have a lot of fun. There’s really no part of the mountain that they can’t find. From the start, Emmons Ridge is a moderate steep that ends with a nice slow leg that leads to the base of the Thunderhead Double chair. From there, they can access Lakeside, a fun cruiser that skirts the edge of the park or take two other trails down the primary mountain. The secondary peak has six intermediate trails. Access here starts with taking the easy Widow Maker down to the base of the triple chair then skiing Blacktail Run, a nice groomer with an open bowl in the first quarter. Blacktail leads to Crystal Double chair, which allows access to the lower peak.
Advanced skiers are going to find the glades on the upper peak a lot of fun. After taking the rope tow up, a short hike leads to two glades, Pochelon’s Powder and the appropriately named, “The Glades.” Four steeps round out the upper mountain’s expert runs, all of which have their own challenges, from tree-lined moguls to unexpected steeper portions. While this mountain isn’t going to keep an Olympic-level skier challenged for long, most will find a lot of fun learning the lines on the mountain.
Amenities and Après Ski
Blacktail doesn’t have much in the realm of traditional après ski. The lodge is a great place to hang out, however. There are two options for hungry skiers or those looking to take a break from the slopes. A sit down restaurant is available on the third floor, and offers great hot sandwiches and tasty appetizers. For more casual dining, the Terminal Café on the second floor has a fireplace perfect for warming up before heading back out.
Blacktail offers a fantastic ski school with an introductory series of lessons tailored to first timers. Over the course of three days, novices will learn to get out on the slopes. For kids, a special school tailored to 3-5 year olds is a great way to introduce them to the snow.