Early Spring Shredding in Whitefish Montana
Skiing Whitefish Mountain Resort with some old buddies, superb accommodations by Lake Shore RentalsWritten and Photographed by Ryan Fogarty
When I found out that two good friends from my hometown in upstate New York were mulling over a trip to visit me in Idaho and hit the slopes for some skiing, it was game on to plan something unforgettable.
During our adolescent years of tearing up the local hills in the Catskill mountains of upstate New York, we’d constantly dream and discuss our future freedoms with plans to ski/snowboard the legendary mountains out west. Those dreams were delayed as we finished high school in 2007 and went on to pursue different paths. Ben joined the military shortly after graduation and was sent off on numerous deployments with the Navy in South Korea, Iraq, and Kuwait. John was my roommate at Oneonta State University of NY for one (epic) year before I enlisted in the Coast Guard.
Fast forward about four years, and I scored my dream job (at the time), a boat operator at one of the most sought after units in the Coast Guard, small boat station Monterey, California. Besides scoring my dream job, my main excitement and motivation for moving cross country to California… Lake Tahoe was a mere four hour drive. We used to drive five + hours for day trips to Vermont during high school, four was nothing!
It was around Saint Patricks day of 2013, John and Ben were finally coming to visit me and ski out west in California! My memories are a little dull from that trip, but I do remember Ben riding an elk in South Lake Tahoe. It was a brutally low snow year for the Tahoe area, but we still had a great time at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, and the casinos of course. I was so grateful to have them visit me in California and fulfill some dreams, we were growing up fast. Unbeknown to us at the time, it would be the last time we’d ski together for seven years.
We’re getting older
Fast forward to 2020, we’ve kept in close contact over the years as our lives pressed on and adulthood kicked in. John is now a NYS Trooper, and Ben is a fiber optic technician. When I separated from the Coast Guard, I moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and turned my passion for photography and videography into a business. I received my commercial drone pilot license and now, most of my summers are spent capturing the beautiful real estate and incredible architecture of the Inland Northwest. My winters are spent chasing snow while taking photos and videos at our local ski resorts and beyond.
With John and Ben’s flights from NY to Spokane booked for early March, it was time to plan a ski trip we wouldn’t soon forget. I was ecstatic, it had been seven years since the three of us had skied together.
I had already acquired lift tickets for us to ski at two local North Idaho mountains, Silver Mountain, and Schweitzer. We collectively decided that after two days local, we wanted to venture to a new resort, an area where none of us had been. I almost had my mind set on a trip to British Columbia, but a conversation with local ski legend and photographer Bob Legasa about Whitefish Montana had my thoughts and planning quickly change.
Whitefish is a picturesque western railroad town with the resort perched a couple thousand feet above in glorious fashion. The resort was opened as Big Mountain Resort just after WWII and now boasts a massive 3,000 skiable acres and close to 3,000 ft vertical drop. Known for its incredible tree skiing, lack of crowds, and reasonable prices, Whitefish seemed like the perfect destination.
Where to stay?
After some research into the area, we decided we wanted to stay at a vacation rental on the mountain, with ski in/ski out access, and a hot tub. A quick google search led me to Lake Shore Rentals out of Whitefish, Montana, boasting a huge array of short and long term vacation rentals throughout Whitefish and the greater Flathead area. They had multiple ski in, ski out options on the mountain to choose from, all affordable and extremely well cared for. We decided on a 3 bedroom 2 bath rental in the Pines Condominiums, a newly constructed building with an underground heated garage, and of course a massive eight person hot tub.
We made it!
With two days of shredding in the books and legs still feeling fresh, we ventured northeast from Coeur d’Alene towards Whitefish. The drive was a quick four hours and the scenery was beautiful. Upon arrival, the instructions to access to the condo and amenities were very clear and concise thanks to Amanda at Lake Shore Rentals. The underground garage was massive and toasty warm, fitting my large 1/2 ton pickup truck no problem. The ski lockers are located right next to the garage, so unloading our ski gear was a breeze.
Located on the third floor, our condo was just as I had pictured it. Spacious and updated, everything was sparkling clean and the layout was perfect for the three of us. All of the furniture was clean and comfortable, and the kitchen was fully stocked with all the cooking supplies you would need to whip up a great breakfast or post skiing meal. The bedrooms were gorgeous with comfortable queen sized beds in every room.
There were beautiful peeks of the resort from the balcony and most rooms. After settling in and dropping our gear off at the condo, we were getting hungry and ready to check out the town of Whitefish. A quick 10 minute drive down the mountain and you are there. It was a Sunday night and the town was bustling with activity. We initially attempted to grab some food at The Great Northern Bar and Grill, but to our surprise, live music and a $18 cover charge had us heading across the street towards Craggy Range Bar & Grill. To our luck, the place was fantastic, great service, great food, and great beer! We ended up back there the following night.
Lets go ski
The next morning we were up early and delighted to clear bluebird skies. The temperatures were a little brisk, high teens to start the morning, but we were eager and ready to explore. One of the greatest joys of ski in ski out condos is being able to gear up inside with plenty of space and warmth! All geared up, we conveniently grabbed our skis and snowboard from the downstairs locker and walked out the door, 100 feet down the street to the “Home Again” trail. Directions to get there were printed throughout the condo and elevators. The trail is conveniently located where you wouldn’t even think a ski trail would be possible. It quickly meanders down to the base lodge, with beautiful condos and homes on each side. It was a Monday and although there were some people out skiing and enjoying the sunshine, the place was empty!
We were all pretty impressed at the speed of Chair 1, Big Mountain Express. It was hands down the fastest chairlift I had ever been on, and it whisks you to the summit faster than you’d think was even possible.
The mountain boasts some incredible terrain. Although the snow was firm from the freeze/melt cycle that had been plaguing our area for the past few weeks, we were lucky enough to have a blue bird day to explore with unrestricted vision. Whitefish is known for its cloudy days (and plethora of snow mind you), with the mountain often lying above the cloud line, white out conditions are quite common. Being able to explore a new mountain during a blue bird day was amazing. It was a little sketchy to venture off piste, but we did some poking around and the amount of beautifully spaced gladed trees is almost overwhelming. You can clearly see the amount of hard work that was put in over the years to make this place the ultimate tree riders playground.
We spent most of the day cruising the groomers, exploring each different zone of the mountain and hitting every chair that was open. The snow was fast but still grippy thanks to the hardworking grooming crew. There were multiple lodges and places to rest at different sections of the mountain, all with their own unique feel and style. Bloody Mary’s at the Summit House were fantastic. We had the most fun on a trail called “Moose”. It was an un groomed intermediate run with lots of trees and side hits. As the day progressed and the sun worked its magic, the snow softened up enough to lay into some harder turns and get airborne. After close to 20 runs and 50 miles of skiing, we decided to call it a day and go relax in the hot tub.
A long scenic run down Home Again took us over some bridges and through some tunnels right back to our condo. If you’re like me, there are some incredible homes and condos to check out along the way. The home again trail is designed brilliantly, easily connecting the resort to much of the outlying village.
Time to Relax
After a long day of skiing, nothing beats some relaxation time in the hot tub. The eight person hot tub was massive, and we met a nice couple from out of town that was also enjoying their vacation. With muscles relieved and minds relaxed, we headed down to Whitefish for dinner and some beverages. There is a free bus that takes you from the resort to Whitefish that we used our second night. For a Monday night, the town of Whitefish was once again bustling with activity. The town is jam packed with beautiful restaurants, bars, breweries, shops, and pretty much anything else you’d want in a ski town.
Goal accomplished, unforgettable trip!
Overall, we were extremely impressed with every aspect of our trip to Whitefish Montana. From the town to the resort, everyone we came in contact with was friendly and happy to see you. It is a true skiing community and the pride shows. Lake Shore Rentals were extremely professional and helpful from the start to finish, and I would highly recommend them for your next trip to the Whitefish/Glacier area. Make sure you check them out at http://lakeshorerentals.us
The legendary terrain at Whitefish Mountain only left us dreaming of what a powder day would be like. Don’t worry, we’ll be back to find out.
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