Snowbowl Montana, Missoula ...yep, Montana
A US ex-pat once said that if you’re ever in Montana make sure you ski the local mountain out at Missoula. ‘It's a nasty little bitch of a hill’, he said. Hmmm.......Missoula. Sounds like a place for a holiday.
As for his description of the mountain. Nasty – not really, but it has some serious steeps and trees. Little – it’s actually huge with a lactic acid inducing vertical of 2,600 feet (850m) that can be skied in one agonising hit from top to bottom. Bitch – didn’t meet any, all the women on the lifts were as friendly as everyone else in Montana. He was right on the money though, it’s one place you should be sure to visit!
Snowbowl Ski and Snowboard Terrain
To go with the massive 2,600 vertical feet at Snowbowl, there’s 300 annual inches (760cm) of fine Montana white stuff falling on a ski hill which currently covers about 1,200 acres. All this is serviced by two double chairs, the Grizzly and the LaVelle, plus a short T-bar and rope tow in the base area which service a small area of beginner/intermediate terrain.
The vast majority of the terrain here is one word – steep. Over 40% is rated expert, and rightly so. Bowls, spur lines, natural features, tight trees and some cut trails stream down the full vertical from the summit. There is more whooping, yipping and yee har action here than one could poke a stick at.
Intermediates are well served up top around the LaVelle chair, but the real action is between the West Bowls and Grizzly and around a ‘closed’ cliff area on the opposite side. The only thing that saves one’s body from going into premature meltdown after skiing a full one of these puppies is that Snowbowl isn’t at the oxygen depleted heights of resorts in Colorado. The top of the mountain is a very civil 7,600 feet (a tad over 2,300m) above sea level.
Where is Montana Snowbowl?
Snowbowl is located in central Montana, 12 miles (19km) north of the quirky city that is Missoula – the only town we know of that has road signs warning of drunks staggering around the place (they do LOVE their beer in Missoula)! Access is easy off Interstate 90, but the access road can be a little rough in places depending on how much snow has fallen.
The Gelandesprung Lodge in the base area is the only accommodation on the hill. It has basic but comfortable rooms with ensuite or shared bathrooms, a hot tub, and communal kitchen facilities. Prices are cheap, and you’re guaranteed to be first in line with the other 37 people when lifts open!
If staying on the hill isn’t your style (sucker!), Missoula has a massive range of hotels that cater for all budgets. Whilst not as good as the one in Bozeman, the C’mon Inn at Missoula is a nice place to stay mid week. You’ll enjoy all the hot tubs after the pounding you will have received skiing at Snowbowl. Ask about cheap lift and accommodation packages.
Missoula / Snowbowl Accommodation Listings
Montana Snowbowl Facilities
Snowbowl’s base facilities might not pass muster at some ski resorts, but are perfectly adequate for the task – shelter, toilet, food and drink. With all the boxes ticked the details don’t really matter aside from mentioning that the Last Run Inn has fabulous wood fired pizzas, open fires and lovely local brews.
Ski wise there is a ski school, some reasonable grooming for those not diving off into the trees, and even some snow-making at the lower elevations. And tickets prices? It’s so cheap that they are hardly worth mentioning.........so I won’t.
Why Ski or Snowboard at Montana Snow Bowl?
People come here for the best wood-fired pizza on a ski hill. Others come here to ski a good old fashioned no frills, friendly, low priced, big vertical, and steep snow resort. Whatever the reason, if you’re ever in the vicinity and it snows, you should come here too. But don’t tell too many people; let’s just keep this nasty little bitch of a hill as our little secret.........sshh!