Sliding down Bridger Bowl and Big Sky

By Wangmo Tenzing

With Thanksgiving over, it’s not too early to start hoping for a white Christmas now that the ski resorts are officially opening up. Bridger Bowl is in business starting Dec. 8 until April 1, tentatively. Located in the Bridger Range, the mountain is divided into sections based on the ability of skiers and snowboarders.

The Bridger mountains get an average of 350 inches of snowfall each year, and even though a season pass is definitely a lot of money, unlimited access to Bridger is worth the 2000 acres of ski-able terrain.

Never been to a ski resort before? No problem. Bridger Bowl offers rentals as well as private and group lessons for beginner and advanced skiers and boarders alike. The base of the mountain is designated for beginners, the center for intermediates and the ridge for expert level skiers and boarders. You can start on the right foot by renting all necessary gear so you don’t have to commit to putting down a large sum in buying skis and boards. With eight lifts and over 70 runs, every part of the mountain has something to offer for different abilities.

Another place to slide down some powder is Big Sky Resort, about an hour drive away from Bozeman. It opened its doors on Nov. 23 and will remain open until April 22. Big Sky is your destination if you’re a seasoned enthusiast of snow. With its terrain of 5800 acres, more than twice the amount of that at Bridger Bowl, you can definitely go bigger. Calling itself the “biggest skiing in America,” the mountain gets over 400 inches of snowfall annually, so there really is an endless selection of terrain.

Although beginners can also crush some powder at Big Sky, it is worth noting that 60 percent of the terrain is rated black-diamond and double black-diamond, meant for advanced and expert skiers only. But they also offer gear rentals, so don’t let that stop you if you want to learn how to ski or snowboard in the beginners area at one of America’s most sought-after ski resorts. At least one out of the 34 lifts and 300 runs at Big Sky will take you to comfortable terrain and challenge you to go further.

If you’re not a big fan of alpine skiing or snowboarding, there are many great trails for cross- country skiing nearby. The Bridger Ski Foundation grooms trails for public use free of charge. Look for Sourdough Canyon and Sunset Hills trails for two of their six groomed locations. With Bozeman’s easy access to ski hills and mountains, we are lucky to have many opportunities for some winter sliding. There are plenty of options in choosing where to go and which snow-sports to try so go ahead and get used to some snow and enjoy sliding down powder.