Formerly known as Big Mountain, this resort offers lots of powder, lots of skiing in the trees, and plenty of runs for every level of skier. With an annual snowfall of 300 inches, a vertical drop of 2,353 feet, three terrain parks, and virtually no lines, Whitefish Mountain Resort is one of the best ski areas in the northwestern United States. More than half the mountain is geared to intermediate skiers, but there is plenty of terrain for experts and beginners. The expert runs are pretty steep -- not as steep as those at Wyoming's Jackson Hole Ski Area, but steep enough. There are never any crowds at Whitefish, even in the holiday seasons, so although the prices have gone up a bit over the years, you can still spend your time skiing rather than waiting in lift lines.
Ski school options include 2-hour group lessons for kids 7 to 12 ($55) and half-day private sessions for adults ($275). A 2-day learn-to-ski program is a bargain at $69. There's also a full-service ski-rental shop.
For après-ski food and entertainment, Whitefish Mountain Resort holds its own, with 10 restaurants in the village or on the hill. Your choice for food and beverage at the mountain is Ed & Mully's Smokehouse, a casual restaurant and bar with a menu chock-full of Memphis-style barbecue. Summit House is a cafeteria that dishes up burgers and the like during the daytime; dinner is also offered several nights a winter on "Moonlight Dine and Ski" evenings. The Hellroaring Saloon serves both lunch and dinners in a typical après-ski atmosphere. The 'Stube is the mountain's rowdiest watering hole, with good burgers and pizza.
In summer, you can take gondola rides to the top of the mountain ($10 per person), ride an alpine slide ($20 for four rides) or take a zip line tour ($69 for 3 hr.), or mountain bike on the trails (bike rentals are available). A new warm-weather diversion is Walk-in-the-Treetops ($54 for 3 hr.), a harnessed adventure that goes 70 feet aboveground into the forest's canopy. There are also some popular summer concerts and special events.