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Need Advise on Quick Ski Stop in Bozeman, MT

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I need to fly to West Coast for business and could do a stop in Bozeman.  I would arrive noon on Tuesday and need to catch a plane to Seattle at 7PM on Wednesday.  I need to book this last minute business trip ASAP and don't have much time to do as much research online as I'd like to.  So I hope you can help!  Is this doable?  Should I attempt Big Sky?  Bridger Bowl?  Another spot?  Any lodging advice?  Do I need to rent a car or is the airport bus to Big Sky convenient and predictable?  Could I squeeze a half day Tuesday afternoon on top of a full day on Wednesday?  Is Bridger Bowl enough of a mountain if one can't access Ridge terrain? (I'll be skiing alone and without a beacon.)  Any advice, much welcomed!

Edited by kelly001 - 1/11/15 at 2:35pm
post #2 of 13

Sounds like Bridger is your best bet.  Short distance and time from Bozeman.



post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

Sounds like Bridger is your best bet.  Short distance and time from Bozeman.




Thanks, Mike.  I gather that Big Sky is bigger than Bridger Bowl.  How does their terrain compare (i.e. is it just more skiable acreage or significantly different mountain wise)?

post #4 of 13
Big Sky is HUGE. They have all the terrain you could want. But.. They are an hour from the airport, over a road that, in the wrong weather (skiing weather) can be treacherous. By the time you collect your bags, get on this bus you speak of (didn't even know that existed), get there, you are not going to be doing any skiing. (Plus you'll be paying $93 for a half day ticket and the lifts stop spinning at 4. Best case you're on the snow at 2.) At Bridger, it's doable.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

Bridger Bowl is sounding better by the minute.  :)


Sounds like I could ski a full full day at Bridger Bowl on Wednesday and not have to worry about stopping early to get back to the airport.  We'll see about trying the half day on Tuesday.  Certainly a bit ambitious.


Any recommended ski shop on the way to Bridger Bowl?  Will schlep my boots, but probably not my skis.

post #6 of 13

I do a lot of these combined biz and ski trips and highly recommend them.  A few thoughts:

  • Get a rental car.  On these short trips with tight timelines you can't be losing time (and flexibility) waiting for buses.  Cars are usually cheap for 2 days too.  This advice assumes your comfortable driving in what could be snowy roads.
  • I would skip skiing the day you arrive.  Even if the plane is on time, by the time you get off the plane, get bags, car and drive up there it will be about 2.  If you can get an earlier flight ski, otherwise, I'd just take it easy and get organized to get 1st chair on day two.
  • I'd ski at Big Sky.  I'd play it by ear, plan to ski BS but be ready to swap for Bridger if the weather was real bad.  Both ski areas are about an hour from the airport.  In clear weather you can ski the whole day.  If weather is poor, I often skip lunch and eat while driving to airport (buy sandwich, etc night before)
post #7 of 13

While Big Sky is huge, varied, and a ton of fun, Bridger is a GREAT area and is much closer to the airport and Bozeman, which is a terrific town, with a nice downtown and a variety of excellent bars and restaurants.  It's also quite a bit less expensive than Big Sky.  Big Sky is just too big for one day, and the traveling will decrease your enjoyment.  If you're a capable off-piste skier, consider taking a ridge tour at Bridger.  It is well worth it.  I don't know what the conditions are like now, though.  Here are some photos of the Bridger Ridge from last March:



post #8 of 13

While Bridger is smaller than Big Sky, Bridger doesn't have any terrain within their boundaries that is not skiable. Meaning Bridger skis way bigger than it seems by it's acreage. You can get seriously challenged without skiing our ridge terrain, and the ridge is only a part of our mountain.


The ski shop in town that I recommend is PHD Skis. 2405 W Main St, Ste 7, Bozeman,MT 59718, 406-587-5227. Our on mountain Bridger rental shop carries high end rentals as well, and that may be more convenient if you are time challenged. Depending on where you stay in Bozeman, it is only about a 20-25 minute drive to parking lot. Most hotels in Bozeman have room/lift ticket deals too.


In the end you probably won't go wrong either way, but will get way more on snow time at Bridger.

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for the great advice and shop recommendation!   My flights are pretty tight in the end so Bridger Bowl seems like an easier and less stressful proposition.  So excited to finally come to Montana!

post #10 of 13

First off is the perception that Bridger is small. It is only small when compared to Big Sky. It is 2,000 acres and most of that is accessible via lift or a short hike. As a comparison, Jackson Hole is 2,500 acres & Alta is 2,200.


If you arrive at noon and scurry to the mountain you can get a couple hours in that day. Considering its mid-week you will not hit any lines and can get a lot of runs in. Most people don't think its worth the hassle but I know a couple people that travel here routinely and ski for a couple hours when they can.


As for the next day, if you don't want to be rushed at the end of the day you can call ahead and reserve skis from Bridger Bowls shop or at the Roundhouse, which is on the mountain but independently owned. The Roundhouse has a good selection of demo skis. Another way to save time is eat dinner at Jimmy B's Bistro on the mountain. It has a good variety of burgers, nachos and sandwiches that are comparable in price and quality to what's served in town.

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,


How's Bridger skiing right now?  Pretty warm in the valley right now!

post #12 of 13

The skiing was great Sunday as it stayed just above freezing so the snow softened but didn't turn to mush. Not sure how its skiing now after a couple days in the upper 40s and then sub-freezing temperatures. At least they haven't lost much snow so things aren't dire yet. More snow and colder temperatures are predicted this weekend through the middle of next week so conditions should improve. I'll let you know what I find this weekend.

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Rio.  Ended up skiing at Bridger on Wednesday.  Fun mountain even though the conditions were pretty crusty off-piste.  It softened up a bit in places around midday, but as temperatures dropped and the strong wind cooled down the top later, it froze back up again by 2.  Very friendly folks and so convenient from downtown Bozeman.  I'm jealous!

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