Bridger Bowl Ski Getaways
Bozeman is centrally located between two well-known places to ski and ride: Big Sky to the south and Bridger Bowl to the north. But Bozeman is the only common denominator, as the two areas couldn't be more different. Big Sky is the big, developed resort; Bridger is the local's hangout. Big Sky is more than three times the size of Bridger and has more than twice the vertical. But this is the wide open west, and with 1,000 acres of terrain and 2,000 feet of vertical (even more of both with hike-to terrain), Bridger is hardly small. And since both places attract different crowds, it's really not fair to make too close a comparison.
Bridger's non-profit status means reasonably-priced lift tickets and season passes, an attraction to nearby Montana State University students and families. And its reputation for some of the state's most radical terrain draws hardcore, serious skiers and riders. But Bridger's softer side appeals to families, who enjoy the area's many green and blue trails.
The Virginia City and Powder Park lifts serve ten green circle trails; the Alpine lift serves four plus a half dozen blue trails and some short blacks; and the Pierre's Knob lift serves eight blues, three blacks, and a short double black. So those skiers and riders who make up the majority have plenty of choices and more than 1500 feet of vertical on which to play.
Higher up is home to the tough stuff, and it's not necessary to hike to get a good taste of it. Zits, The Nose, Exit Chutes, and Tight Squeeze give you some idea of what lies above you, and are all accessible - as are a half dozen black diamonds - from the Bridger lift. But if you want to hike for your turns, Bridger encourages you - as long as you have an avalanche transceiver (457 kHz), a shovel, a partner, and knowledge of the terrain. The terrain in question is full of chutes, cliffs, snowfields, tight trees, and what-not. If you don't know a local, the Ski and Snowboard School offers a three-hour tour and the necessary transceiver and shovel, as conditions permit.
Typically the terrain park site is located above Boot Hill and skier's right of the Bridger Lift. However, if the season starts out a little slow the park has been moved in the past to Sunnyside run, served by the Powder Park Quad.