Pros: The hill is great. Everything from wide open blues to push your speed limit to tiny chutes on the ridge. Limited Crowds as it is not a "destination"
Cons: Hard to get to. Bozeman is a connection flight from the east, through SLC or Seattle. If you go to SLC most get off to ski there.
I grew up an Eastern Rock & Ice guy. When I got older, I finally got out west, skiing Utah, and then Montana. the Joy of Bridger is that it is well run and not very crowded, even at peak. There is everything from well marked groomers for speed to steep drops. You won't get bored here. The mountain scoops the passing clouds so there can be a massive dump at the ski area but Bozeman (20 minutes away-really) gets a dusting. The area is publicly owned so profits go into running the area and new equipment. Staff is friendly and courteous. Lift prices are very low compared to other Western areas.
You are almost totally free of the poseur types seen in Vermont and at "name" areas. The ragged looking guy with telemark skis is off to the Ridge (hikers only) or Schlausman's Ravine (bring your transmitter and a buddy, shovels and snorkel too). If you are like me, old and careful, you will like the wide open groomers and the networks of trails. Adrenals may be tweaked in two bowls, and you'll never get overrun like some Northeast spots.
OK, it's not Alta, but i might like it more than Snowbird. Bridger has kept ski condo cancer from forming in the valley, so far, and most folks would stay in Bozeman, which is a great town for partying-if you have any energy left there is plenty of great food and beverages (montana ale works). Since there is NO one hop from the northeast, it is over looked by the usual ski tourist. That's not a bad thing.
The truly hardcore can go up to the Ridge, which spans the whole area, with literally dozens of chutes. I don't think anyone would be disappointed. Even little kids, once they ski Hully-gully, will find this amazing.
Ride any chair at Bridger Bowl and look up at the rock faces of The Ridge: to me, this is the most beautiful cathedral in the world. I never get bored at Bridger--there are lots of north faces where the snow stays fresh for days, great tree-skiing, wonderful chutes, and terrific hike-to terrain. This is an expert skier's mecca, and also a fun family-friendly area with lots of skiing for the more sedate riders on Pierre's Knob and Alpine, which is like a private ski area within the ski area. The ambience at Bridger is another feature I love--laid-back, authentic, and a great value (midweek season pass for only $375, early purchase). This is a very special place. I call it home.
I had the good fortune of skiing Bridger Bowl after ESA at Big Sky. Bridger served up a tremendous amount of snow, phenomenal vibes and grins galore.
On first impression the one word that came to mind when I skied Bridger is Respect. This is a mountain to be respected and a place that will leave you in awe of what can be enjoyed by someone who is ready to embrace all that she has to offer.
When I left Bridger Bowl I didn't leave with a sense of having skied as much as that I had been given the opportunity to caress the mountain side with my tracks and she enjoyed the time we spent together almost as much as I did.
Bridger is not a Resort in the sense of having on site activities, lodging and/or night life, but its just a stones throw from Bozeman which has ample lodging and phenomenal dining/night lift.
Bridger Bowl is primarily a community ski area that also caters to destination travelers. The 500' of steep hike-to terrain on the Ridge has been a draw to extreme skiers since 1976. In 2008 Bridger added its first new expansion lift in 30 years, accessing 300 acres and 1,700 feet of steep terrain and in 2010 replaced two main lifts with one triple chair, increasing the number of skiers served by 7.5 percent and reducing undue stoppages. Dumps of the area's patented "cold smoke" can exceed 70 inches.The ski school is top-notch and the mountain offers terrain for the whole spectrum of skiers from beginners to world-class freeskiing competitors.
Bozeman serves as the main bed base with most of the lodging and entertainment options. There are many excellent restaurants, shops, galleries, microbreweries and bars in the town and the community supports a strong cultural presence with a wide variety of music available ranging from country to jazz. Yellowstone National Park is only 90 miles from Bozeman.
Bridger Bowl is a private, nonprofit ski area. All profits are invested back into the area for improvements and operational budgets, which allows the resort to provide a high quality ski experience for a very low price.
Looking down from the Ridge at the top of the Slausman''s Chairlift:
Rio’s Very Unofficial Guide to Bridger Bowl
This guide is currently under construction. I will attempt to finish it as the season progresses and I have a chance to refresh my memory, snow pack permitting.
Getting on the lifts:
Three of the lifts are Bridger Bowl (Powder Park, Bridger and Pierre’s Knob) have lift loading assistance hardware from ChairKids. To load on lifts using them move forward in the lift gate and lean gently on the gate. Do not crash into the gate like you’re a World Cup racer; you will get yelled at. When it is your turn to load the gates will open. Let yourself glide down onto the ChairKids mat. You do not have to do any stepping or pushing yourself except on days when it’s well above freezing. If you have a child with you that needs a boost tell the lift operators and they will have the ChairKid device raise up. No physical boosting of the child will be necessary. If you are loading with a child getting a lift be aware that the chair will be coming in much lower than normal.
Two of the lifts at Bridger (Alpine and Virginia City) are vintage Riblet chairs. Riblet chairs are two seat chairs with the pole in the center. When loading onto these lifts be sure to look towards the center of the chair. If you are riding solo on these lifts sit on the inside.
Bridger Bowl has four distinct areas: Lower Mountain, Upper Mountain, Schlauchman’s Chair and the Ridge. The lower mountain is mainly beginner terrain. The upper mountain has runs from easy greens to extreme expert. The Ridge is mainly expert terrain that requires some hiking to access. Schlauchman's Chair is mainly expert terrain, also. Both Schlauchman's Chair and the Ridge require the rider to have a transceiver. Shovels and partners are not required, but highly recommended for both.
The lower mountain is mainly beginner and lower-intermediate terrain. It is serviced by 3 chair lifts. Snowflake Chair services the bunny hill off to the left of the Saddlepeak Lodge. Powder Park Chair is a quad located to the right of the base area. Virginia City is an old Riblet Chair adjacent to the Saddlepeak Lodge.
While the lower mountain is beginner terrain is sometimes has the least hospitable snow & weather. Due to winds, manmade snow and sun exposure it is more prone to icy snow than the rest of the mountain. It is usually more wind exposed on windy days. When cold arctic fronts move through inversions often make the lower mountain significantly colder than the upper mountain, also.
The most popular run off the Powder Park chair is Sunnyside which is to the left as you exit the lift. This run is where the terrain park is, also. The most popular run off Virginia City is Coyote Flats which is to the right as you exit the lift.
The upper mountain has terrain ranging from advance beginner to extreme. It is serviced by three lifts, Alpine, Pierre’s Knob and the legendary Bridger Chair. Alpine chair is an old Riblet two seater on the north end of resort. It services mainly advance beginner and intermediate terrain. The most popular runs on the Alpine chair are Limestone, Wolverine, Bobcat and the Three Bears. To get to Alpine Lift take Powder Park and exit to the right.
Most people exit the Alpine chair to the right which leads to easier terrain. The first run you encounter to the right is Limestone, an easy green run. Some beginners find the first turns on Limestone daunting. To avoid that part of the run, keep going right and follow the easy way down signs. As you proceed down Limestone you will see signs pointing to other runs. Keep to the left to stay on Limestone.
Two other popular runs accessed off Limestone are Wolverine and Bobcat. Wolverine is a narrow, fun blue run that meanders through the trees. Bobcat is a much more wide open run with a good pitch for warming up on. Bobcat is usually groomed just after Bridger closes so it has a smooth surface under any powder that might accumulate overnight making it an ideal run for people starting to ski powder.
The Three Bears Bowl is a good area to do some off-piste skiing. The bowl consists of three chutes, Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear. You access the chutes by exiting Alpine chair to the left and following the traverse. The first chute you come to is Baby Bear, the second Mama Bear and the third Papa Bear.
There are numerous ways to return to the other parts of the mountain from Alpine lift. The easiest is to ski down Limestone. When you return to the lift follow Mully Road which is just below the base of the lift. This route will take you back to the base area. If you want to access other parts of the upper mountain then either take the Three Bears Traverse and keep going until you reach Powder Park or take Rugrat which is at the bottom of Alpine Face.
Pierre’s Knob Lift is on the other side of the ski area from Alpine Lift. It services a good selection of intermediate runs with a few expert runs, also. To get to Pierre’s Knob take either the Virginia City Lift or Powder Park Lift and exit to the left then follow the road.
Airlines: Alaska, Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, Horizon, United, US Airways
Nonstop flights from Atlanta (seasonal), Chicago (seasonal), Denver, Las Vegas, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Phoenix, Seattle, San Francisco (seasonal), and Salt Lake City
Bridger Bowl is located 16 miles north of Bozeman, Montana on Highway 86. It is an easy 20 minute drive on a well maintained road that provides one of the easiest and most scenic accesses to a major ski area that you will ever experience.
Off I-90 Traveling West take exit #309 (East Main Street) and travel about 1.5 miles to N. Rouse. Turn right on Rouse and stay on the road all the way to Bridger Bowl, approximately 16 miles. Rouse becomes Bridger Canyon Road outside the city limits. Turn left into Bridger Bowl at sign.
Off I-90 Traveling East take exit #306 (North 7th - MT 205 W). After leaving the interstate off ramp, turn left and cross back over I-90. Immediately look for a Sinclair gas station on the right hand side of the road. Take a right hand turn onto Griffin Drive after the gas station. Griffin Drive will run into Highway 86, Bridge Drive, turn left onto the Highway. Follow approximately 14.4 miles to Bridger Bowl turn on your left.
Bridger Bowl has three cafeterias and a Bar and Grill which together provide seating for nearly 1,200 guests. The Saddle Peak Lodge located adjacent to our beginner lifts in the base area is our new family cafeteria. It serves continental breakfast items, excellent hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, pizza and home-made baked goods. The Jim Bridger Lodge cafeteria in the base area is open for full breakfasts, lunch and late afternoon snacks. Jimmy B's Bar and Grill, located in the Jim Bridger Lodge, offers sit-down service and a full bar. Up on the mountain the Deer Park Chalet opens mid-morning and serves lunch. We do not have a dinner service on the mountain. If you are staying in one of the properties out of town, be sure to stock up with groceries before leaving Bozeman. Many guests staying out of town make the 20 minute drive to town for dinner where there are plenty of great restaurants from which to chose.
Over the Tapas 19 S Willson Ave Bozeman, MT59715 (406) 556-8282 Consistent, quality food in a casual atmosphere. No reservations.
The Garage Soup Shack & Mesquite Grill 451 E Main St Bozeman, MT59715 (406) 585-8558 Excellent lunches and light dinners, great beer selection. No reservations.
Western Cafe 43 E Main St Bozeman, MT59715 (406) 587-0436 A Bozeman after-late-night breakfast tradition; "the best breakfast in town."