Helena, Bozeman, and Southwest Montana Feature

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Hitting the Slopes

It's called "cold smoke"—the exceedingly light, dry snow that falls on the mountains of southwest Montana—and it doesn't go to waste. All told, the region has six downhill ski areas and more than 390 km (245 mi) of cross-country trails. The season generally begins in late November or early December and runs through early to mid-April.

Downhill ski areas such as Bridger Bowl, Discovery, Moonlight Basin, Maverick, and Red Lodge Mountain are family-friendly, inexpensive, and relatively uncrowded. For steep skiers, one of the country's largest resorts, Big Sky, has more than 500 turns on a single slope; it's also a fine mountain for beginner and intermediate skiers.

The cross-country tracks of Lone Mountain Ranch stand out among the 40 or 50 trails in southwest Montana. They're groomed daily or weekly and are track-set for both classic and skate skiing. Backcountry skiing has no limits, with hundreds of thousands of skiable acres on public land.

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