Blacktail Mountain Ski Getaways
Although it's only been around since the 1997-98 season, Blacktail has carved out a niche on the northwestern edge of Flathead Lake. It doesn't have the terrain to compete with Big Mountain, about a two-hour drive north, but it doesn't have to. Blacktail caters to a dedicated local clientele, who appreciate the area's easy pace and spectacular views of Flathead Lake, Glacier National Park, and the mountains: the Cabinets to the west, the Swan Range and the Mission Mountains to the east and southeast. The ski area itself is surrounded by the Flathead National Forest, so there's no development to interfere with the scenery.
Those views are available from the parking lot, which sits at the top of the slopes. From there, a couple of dozen trails, slopes, and glades drop about 1500 vertical feet, spread over 200 acres. Two doubles, a triple, and a handle tow provide rides back up. The chairlifts were purchased used from several ski areas and refurbished, but the handsome lodge - you can't call it a base lodge, since it, too, sits at the top of the mountain - was built when the area was developed.
The terrain favors beginners and intermediates. Beginners will find most of their trails off the Olympic Triple (so-called because it came from Calgary's Olympic Park), while intermediates can ride the Crystal Double (originally from Crystal Mountain, WA) or the Thunderhead Double, formerly of Steamboat. Four of the six black diamond trails are also off this chair as is the Powder Glade.
A professional snow sports school takes full advantage of the terrain by offering lessons for all abilities and ages, but with a focus on those starting out or wishing to improve. There's also a racing program for 7 to 13-year-olds which begins in January and runs for ten weeks. All aspects of racing, including conditioning and tuning, are covered, and there are ten races as part of the program.