On a grey bird Sunday, we shook off small hangovers and embarked on the the 14 mile trek from the shores of Lake Flathead to the heights of the Blacktail Mountain Ski Area. It’s certainly an incredibly scenic and twisty road — which begs the question how accessible Blacktail is during a powder storm. Not a problem for the crew today with just a dusting of an inch accompanied with grumblings that Whitefish, just 45 minutes up the road, got half a foot.
A blustery wind greeted us in the parking lot which did little to alleviate stuffy heads, but we immediately found protection on the northern facing slopes — a fact that Blacktail brags about on their trail map. With only a few hours before heading back to Bozeman, we didn’t get a chance to fully scope out the entire area (then again, I rarely do), but like most of the family hills in Montana, there’s a firm sense of community in the lodge and on the slopes.
We spent the bulk of our time farming out the leftover snow on top of the Thunderhead Double. Head over to The Glades, Badrock, and Pocehlon’s Powder for some trees. If you want to stick to the top and the aforementioned trees, there’s even a midstation (load-on only) on the Thunderhead and for those seeking to show off for a crowd, check out the lower liftline. It’s still a bit sparse, but has more than enough rocks and jibs to keep it interesting.
Blacktail’s size as we kept discovering is deceptively large with super long and nicely steeped intermediates that provide a decent run. Its best feature, however, may be the shortened week. Only open from Wednesday thru Sunday, I can only imagine that early week storms must turn this place into an absolute playground of powder. And after Whitefish, the chill atmosphere and smaller crowds were a perfect fit for some lazy Sunday turns.
TSJ Ticket Tips: Pick up cheap lift tickets at Costco in Kalispell (we paid $27/ticket). Ski half price with any Montana season pass. $25 lift tickets on Thursdays.
Tamarack Brewing Company
Actually, our apres-ski included two cases of beer as we made the six hour journey back to Bozeman, but our local guide told us that this was the place to tie one on after a day of shredding Blacktail. You can’t miss it right on the road up to the ski area.