The Montana Snowbowl is located just a half hour north of Missoula, home to the University of Montana. One of the most underdeveloped, yet beloved ski areas, the one thing you’ll take away from the Snowbowl is how steep it is. From the peak up at 7600 feet, it is possible to take a heart-pounding steep all the way down 2600 feet of vertical right into the base (at 5000 feet). In fact, there are several lines an adventurous sort could take and not ever stop as they hit every part of the mountain. Snowfall at the Snowbowl is decent, with an average year seeing 300 inches (7.6 meters) of snow.
The Mountain and the Trails
The Snowbowl has 37 named runs, but there are tons of paths through the trees that aren’t named. The official difficulty mix falls at 40 percent advanced, 40 percent intermediate, and 20 percent novice. Beginners should stick to the base area and the Sunrise T-bar as they play around the Sunrise bowl. As they get more comfortable, keep taking the bar higher until you’re carving the entire bowl. Intermediate skiers will find a lot to love when taking the Lavelle Creek chair up the mountain. Stay out of the steeps on the left until you’re ready, but the groomers and glades to the right will keep you happy. For expert skiers, there’s nothing but steeps, bowls, cut trails, and spur lines as you tear down the Snowbowl.
The entire lift system is four lifts. Two chairs and two T-bars ferry skiers up the mountain. A full circuit for an advanced skier takes them up Grizzly and Lavelle Chairs and down a steep that goes by glades, cliffs and mogul filled terrain until they are back at base. One route, then two, then the next thing you know, you’ve spent an entire day tearing down steeps and loving every minute.
Bottom Lining It
If you’re in the area, skiing the Snowbowl is a no brainer. Making it a one or two-day stop on your tour of Montana’s skiing would be a great way to spend a ski-cation. With low prices, friendly locals, and terrain that has something for everyone, the Snowbowl remains one of the best-kept secrets of Montana. The lodges are great with a modern flair, but there is no lodging on the mountain. You have to stay in nearby Missoula, which isn’t a bad place to spend a few days.