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If you love winter, there’s no doubt that Montana is a great place for you!
Between the deep snow, huge mountains and cute little towns, there’s something for everyone. So pack all your warm clothes, grab a thermos full of cocoa, and head out.
Here are 5 great winter activities in Montana that you won’t want to miss:
With 15 resorts and some of the biggest average snowfalls in the country, you won’t want to miss it. Not only will you find challenging terrain and steep slopes to challenge mom and dad, but you’ll usually find that side by side with ski schools and family friendly runs. The thing that makes Montana really stand out for skiing is the crowds – they just aren’t there!
We went to Showdown on opening weekend and we never waited in a lift line. After years of skiing in Colorado and Utah where crowds are the norm, we were blown away that places like this still even existed. This video here perfectly sums up what we love about Showdown (oh, and the daycare there was only $25 for the whole day, so for the baby that was AWESOME!!!)
2. Ice Skating
It might come as no surprise but with cold temps and lots of lakes, there is no shortage of outdoor ice skating! By Christmas, most areas with lakes or outdoor rinks are open. Skating is a great way to enjoy big sky country with its great scenery, and best part is that they are usually really cheap (most are only a couple of dollars and skate rentals are cheap or free as well).
Our best tip for skating with kids? Take a stroller! You can let the kids take a rest in it when they need a break and pushing it around the lake is a great way for little ones to stabilize themselves as they learn to glide across the ice.
3. Head through the woods on snowshoe.
Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy the trails of Montana without needing as much skill or expertise as other activities. In fact, it’s one of the easiest ways to stay active for all ability levels, from kids on up (seriously, if you can walk, you can figure out snowshoeing). When you head out snowshoeing, remember to take all the regular gear you would for a hike + cold weather preparedness supplies (hand warmers, emergency blanket, extra gloves and hat, etc.)
AllTrails.com has a great resource put together with some of the best trails to snowshoe in the state here.
4. Visit a National Park
Glacier National Park and Yellowstone are some of our very favorite parks for families, and during the winter, they both SHINE!! First of all, you must know that the crowds that both of these parks are famous for will be practically gone, and you’ll often feel like you have the park all to yourself. Well, you and the animals that are easy to spot against the snowy backdrop. It’s MAGICAL!
Glacier NP has guided snowshoe tours with a ranger, and is also a great place to explore on cross-country skis. This guide to Glacier in the Winter is a great place to start. Most of the roads in Glacier are closed in the winter, but if you’re willing to plan ahead, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most beautiful scenery in the country all to yourself!
Yellowstone is a surreal place to visit in the winter because of all of the geothermal activity in the winter. Snowshoe along a warm spring river, watch old faithful erupt with snow all around, or ski along a path overlooking a herd of bison. Car travel in Yellowstone is limited in winter but that just gives you more of an excuse to see the park by snowmobile or snow coach. Find out more details here.
5. Soak in a hot spring.
Relaxing your tired muscles and warming your body with a hot spring soak is the perfect end to any days adventure! Montana is full of hot springs, and winter is a perfect time to visit them. What kid, or kid at heart, wouldn’t love swimming around in a hot pool while there’s snow and ice all around. It’s a truly magical experience that won’t soon be forgotten. Because there are so many hot springs, a visit to them is a perfect way to end out a day of winter adventures almost anywhere in the state.
Along your journey, you’ll find that there’s no shortage of small cute towns and so finding a café to enjoy a great slice of pie or an ice cream cone should be a piece of cake 😉 Our top pick from our visit was the Parrot Confectionary in Helena. Between the candy shop, the old-time soda fountain, and the jukebox, it’s a blast from the past that will make you want to relax and hang out there all day. Amazingly, even really small towns have their restaurants rated on TripAdvisor, so head over there and pick the best local spot (Honestly, if you don’t have the TripAdvisor app on your phone, download it NOW!! We just it several times a day when we travel.)
Now if you’re still looking for more suggestions, never fear – the possibilities for winter fun in Montana are endless. Here are a few more suggestions: dog sledding, sleigh riding, fat biking, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, or hockey to name a few!
What would you like to do most in Montana in winter? Check out our YouTube video to see the highlights from our family winter trip there!