Red Lodge Ski Getaways

ski getaways

A scant 65 miles from Billings, Montana's largest city, Red Lodge beckons with 1,600 acres of terrain and 2,400 feet of vertical. With no mountain passes to negotiate and the historic and charming old mining town of Red Lodge just four miles from the slopes, skiers and riders from Billings and its satellite towns keep the scene lively.

Red Lodge obliges with an efficient lift system - two of the eight lifts are detachable quads - and, unusual for Montana, a snowmaking system that covers 31% of the trails and extends to the summit.

Beginners can ride the nearly mile-long triple chair from the main base area and happily spend the day here, occasionally dropping into the handful of blue trails that cross this section. The Miami Beach double serves more beginner terrain but offers shorter runs. From the top of the triple, intermediates and up have several choices. North 40 leads to the Cole Creek detachable quad, which runs to the summit of Nichols Peak at 9390 feet. This is mostly single and double black diamond territory, but a blue cruiser, Latigo, swoops back to the lift. Continue if you wish down the Meeteetse Trail (named after an old Army supply trail in the region) to the other fast quad, Palisades, which serves some fast GS-style trails.

The Grizzly Peak double serves an interesting mix of tougher intermediate trails, wide-open blacks, and double black glades. The only drawback here is that most of the terrain to skiers' right of the lift requires you to take two lifts to get to the top of it again. But if your route down includes, say, Intimidation to Drainage, then you might need a couple of lift rides up to recover.

There are backcountry access gates near both summit lifts. Local knowledge is essential here if you plan to go out of bounds.

A long terrain park on Hancock is regularly groomed, and every couple of weeks its features are changed.