Northern Rockies - U. S.

The ski areas of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming vary in their snowfall, but most rely on cold weather rather than north exposure for snow preservation. The best snow months appear to be January and February, therefore spring conditions are more common in March than in Utah or Colorado. The weather is fairly well correlated to the Pacific Northwest, and more independent of Colorado, Utah, and California. Thus, some of these areas are worth consideration in seasons when drought afflicts areas to the south.

There are two tables below: The first contains all the statistics while the second contains summary information plus comments and analysis.

Color-coded areas link to my detailed Resort Guide published in Inside Tracks or First Tracks Online.
Explanation of Column Headings
Home Page and Other Regions

  Lift Serviced   Season Dec.-Mar. Percent Percent Average        
NORTHERN Altitude Season Standard 6+ Inch High Mths Low Mths Maximum Direction of Exposure
ROCKIES (U. S.) Range Average Deviation Powder Days GE 90 in. LT 30 in. Base Depth North East West South
Whitefish, Mont.†† 6,700†††† 4,600-7,000 328 76 13.2% 14% 14% 113 15% 15% 15% 55%
Schweitzer, Idaho4,700 3,994-6,400 281 75 11.3% 10% 20% 115 35% 45% 0% 20%
Silver Mt., Idaho6,200 4,100-6,300 340 88 13.8% 22% 15% 116 42% 30% 25% 3%
Lookout Pass, Idaho5,600 4,500-5,650 419 105 17.6% 30% 9% 142 35% 30% 10% 25%
Brundage, Idaho6,000 5,840-7,640 302 76 12.3% 13% 17% N/A 20% 3% 56% 21%
Bridger Bowl, Mont.†† 7,100†††† 6,100-8,100 302 68 12.2% 7% 14% 97 30% 45% 0% 25%
Big Sky, Mont.8,920 6,970-11,145 284 51 10.7% 2% 18% 68 37% 36% 2% 25%
Jackson Hole, Wyo.†† 8,250†† 6,311-10,450 368 88 15.7% 30% 10% 98 10% 60% 0% 30%
Sun Valley, Idaho†† 8,800 5,750-9,150 195 62 8.3% 2% 42% 74 55% 37% 0% 8%
Teton Pass, Wyo.†† 8,000 N/A 269 68 10.5% 0% 27% N/A Mainly E and W, some N and S
Grand Targhee, Wyo.†††† 8,000 8,000-10,200 465 96 19.0% 41% 4% N/A 20% 0% 60% 20%

  Lift Serviced      
NORTHERN Altitude Season Weather Restrictions, Powder Potential  
ROCKIES (U. S.) Range Average and Other Considerations Best Time to Ski
Whitefish, Mont. 6,700 4,600-7,000 328 Least rain of Interior Northwest areas; good snowghost glades and some bowl skiing on upper mountain. January/February for coverage, surface conditions, powder.
Schweitzer, Idaho 4,700 3,994-6,400 281 Upper mountain offers excellent tree skiing† Powder lasts in trees inside and outside area. January/February for coverage, surface conditions, powder.
Silver Mt., Idaho 4,100-6,300 340 Good balance of terrain including trees. Extremely low skier density a big plus on powder days. January into March for coverage, surface conditions, powder. Most north facing area of Interior Northwest
Lookout Pass, Idaho 4,500-5,650 419 Highest snowfall of Interior Northwest. Mostly mellow terrain and low density ideal for learning powder. January/February for coverage, surface conditions, powder.
Brundage, Idaho 6,000 5,840-7,640 302 Primarily intermediate pitch, but nearly wall-to-wall well-spaced tree skiing†and low skier density for powder. January/February for coverage, surface conditions, powder.
Bridger Bowl, Mont. 7,100 6,100-8,100 302 Good dumps, chutes and fabled expert terrain available for a short hike above area.† Frequent powder blow-in here. January/February for coverage, surface conditions, powder.
Big Sky, Mont. 8,920 6,970-11,145 284 Tram to peak gives it highest vertical drop of any U.S. area but you canít ski it in one run.† This upper extreme terrain likely to be closed during storms and avalanche control, but gets good powder blow-in. Lower mountain usually has good surfaces. Mid-January to mid-March for Lone Peak coverage.† Sunny spring exposures, but highest and coldest terrain in region aids snow preservation.
Jackson Hole, Wyo. 8,250 6,311-10,450 368 Some closures for wind and avalanche.† Outstanding long and steep bowls with low skier density.† In March steep ungroomed runs like the south-facing Hobacks will turn into cement with just a little sun. January/early February for snowfall and to avoid warm weather exposures.
Sun Valley, Idaho 8,800 5,750-9,150 195 Bowls can close for visibility.† Deep powder a rarity, good for euro-tanning.† Larger storms here come from the south. Snowfall correlates more with California than the Pacific Northwest.† Extensive snowmaking required on lower mountain. January/February, but wait for high snow year to ensure skiing entire area.
Teton Pass, Wyo. 8,000 N/A 269 One of most consistent deep powder backcountry touring areas in U.S., snowfall amounts much higher above highway.† Easy highway access for shuttles. Long season. Same as Jackson for powder plus excellent touring in spring.
Grand Targhee, Wyo. 8,000 8,000-10,200 465 The best powder area outside of Utah.† Low skier density and, a snowcat operation.† Lowest standard deviation of any area; over 350 inches snowfall in 1977 and 1981, the two driest seasons in the West. December-February. January is highest snow month.

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