Whitefish, Montana: Small-town Tranquility in Winter
If you're looking for a snowy getaway without the Mammoth (or Park City) crowds, Whitefish, Montana, could be your spot. This Northern Rockies destination bustles in the summer, as a convenient base for visitors to nearby Glacier National Park. But in winter those visitors mostly vanish, and you can have the place almost to yourself.
That breathing room is particularly noticeable in Whitefish’s burgeoning restaurant scene. “In winter, people can almost always get a table at the times they’re looking for, even with short notice,” says Andy Blanton, the executive chef and owner of Cafe Kandahar and a four-time James Beard Award semifinalist. (When he’s looking for a bite himself, Blanton is likely to head over to the Three Forks Grille for some gnocchi with morels.)
When it comes to winter recreation, Whitefish has plenty of options. Whitefish Mountain Resort welcomes you with 3,000 skiable acres, a 2,300-foot vertical drop, and virtually no lift lines. You can also ice-skate at the Stumptown Ice Den, grab a sleigh ride at the Bar W Guest Ranch, or check out the “snow ghosts”— trees covered and contorted by thick coats of ice—near the summit of Big Mountain.
But winter’s best attraction is the same as summer’s: Glacier. “There’s something to be said for exploring the area when it’s quiet,” Blanton says. Head to Lake McDonald for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Or, if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, take North Fork Road to Polebridge for amazing views of the Rockies. You’ll likely have them all to yourself.