Western Montanans itching to hit the ski slopes Thanksgiving weekend might have to log some serious miles. But there are areas that are open.

Our friend Brett French, Outdoor Editor of the Billings Gazette, was kind enough to share some of his early-season findings. And like just about everything else these days, COVID-19 restrictions will be in place.

Brett reports that Red Lodge Mountain, Great Divide, Big Sky Resort, Lookout Pass and Discovery ski areas are all open for the holiday weekend, despite some warmer recent temperatures. All ski areas have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by enacting several new rules to keep visitors and employees safe. For example, Red Lodge Mountain is asking visitors to use their cars as a place to warm up and eat sack lunches, single skiers won’t be paired with others to maximize chairlift use and everyone has to wear masks.

Last spring ski areas in Montana and across the nation closed as the novel coronavirus outbreak surged, cutting short the prime spring skiing season. Now they are reopening under regulations that will change how people recreate at resorts, with each mountain adopting its own protocols.

Red Lodge Mountain will open with limited lifts following warm weather that melted off a heavy early season snowfall. Snowmaking efforts have been underway since Thursday to beef up what Mother Nature has already dropped on the hill.

Big Sky Resort is opening its slopes on Thanksgiving Day, but due to restrictions on capacity is already sold out for the first three days it’s open. Guests with season passes are still able to access the mountain on those days, with no reservations required.

Ski Discovery near Anaconda opens on Thanksgiving through Sunday, and will use that schedule through the next few weeks. Likewise, Great Divide Ski Area near Helena is opening Fridays through Sundays beginning this week and will open seven days a week starting on Dec. 16.

On the Montana-Idaho border, Lookout Pass is open Mondays through Wednesdays. The ski hill will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday before reopening on Friday and through the weekend. The weekday ski hours are meant to relieve some of the pressure on the weekends, spreading crowds out. Starting Dec. 10 the mountain will be open seven days a week.

Elsewhere, Lost Trail ski Area south of Darby is tentatively scheduled to open Dec. 5, followed by Montana Snowbowl, in Missoula, on Dec. 6, snow conditions permitting. Whitefish Mountain Resort is planning to open on Dec. 10. Showdown Montana, in the Little Belt Mountains, has set Dec. 11 as its starting date. Bridger Bowl near Bozeman is set for a Dec. 15 opening day, although access will be limited. Blacktail Mountain near Lakeside in the Flathead Valley is set to open as soon as conditions allow, hopefully no later than mid-December.

And of course, it is always a good idea to check websites and/or call the ski area you might have in mind.

 

CHECK THEM OUT: 100 years of Christmas toys, gifts and fads