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Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

The Best Places To Go Cross-Country Skiing In Montana


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Adore Molina



Welcome to the beautiful state of Montana, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Nestled amidst breathtaking landscapes and picturesque mountains, Montana offers a plethora of activities for all seasons. From hiking and fishing to wildlife watching and camping, there is something for everyone. One activity that truly shines in Montana’s winter wonderland is cross-country skiing.


Cross-country skiing in Montana is a truly magical experience. The vast expanses of untouched snow, the crisp mountain air, and the majestic surroundings create the perfect setting for this exhilarating sport. Whether you’re a seasoned skier or a novice looking to give it a try, Montana has numerous destinations that offer amazing cross-country skiing opportunities.


Montana’s diverse terrain provides a wide range of cross-country skiing options. From groomed trails to backcountry routes, there is a multitude of choices to suit every level of expertise. Whether you prefer a challenging, high-intensity workout or a leisurely glide through the winter landscape, Montana has it all.


In this article, we will explore the best places to go cross-country skiing in Montana. From national parks and forests to popular resorts and hidden gems, we’ll uncover the top destinations that will satisfy your snow-loving soul. So dust off your skis, bundle up, and get ready for an unforgettable cross-country skiing adventure in the Big Sky Country.


Glacier National Park

One of Montana’s crown jewels, Glacier National Park, is not only a stunning summer destination but also a magnificent winter playground for cross-country skiing enthusiasts. Spread across over one million acres, Glacier National Park offers an abundance of trails and breathtaking scenery, making it a must-visit destination for winter sports enthusiasts.


Glacier National Park boasts a network of well-maintained cross-country skiing trails that wind through awe-inspiring landscapes. With its snow-blanketed forests, frozen lakes, and towering peaks, the park transforms into a winter wonderland that beckons adventure seekers.


For beginners and intermediates, the popular trail at Apgar Village is a great starting point. This easy, 5-mile loop takes you through a picturesque forest and offers stunning views of Lake McDonald. It’s a perfect trail for families or those looking for a leisurely ski outing.


For more advanced skiers, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is a classic route that provides a challenging and unforgettable experience. This iconic road is closed to vehicle traffic during the winter, allowing cross-country skiers to glide through the heart of the park amidst snow-covered peaks. The 14-mile round trip offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.


For those seeking solitude and the thrill of the backcountry, Glacier National Park has plenty to offer as well. The park’s vast wilderness provides endless opportunities for off-trail skiing and exploration. Just be sure to check with the park rangers for safety information and trail conditions before venturing off the beaten path.


With its stunning scenery, diverse trail options, and the opportunity to spot wildlife in their winter habitat, Glacier National Park is a true winter paradise for cross-country skiing enthusiasts. Whether you choose a groomed trail or venture into the backcountry, you’ll be surrounded by the beauty and serenity that makes this park so special.


Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, located primarily in Wyoming but also stretching into Montana and Idaho, is renowned for its geothermal wonders, incredible wildlife, and diverse ecosystems. While it is a popular destination in the summer, the park also offers a unique winter experience for cross-country skiing enthusiasts.


With over 2.2 million acres to explore, Yellowstone National Park provides a wide range of cross-country skiing opportunities. The park offers groomed trails for all skill levels, as well as the opportunity to ski off-trail in designated areas.


One of the most iconic cross-country ski routes in Yellowstone is the Old Faithful trail, a 21-mile loop that takes you to the famous Old Faithful geyser and back. This intermediate-level trail showcases the park’s geothermal wonders, with steaming vents and hot springs dotting the landscape. Skiing through this winter wonderland is a truly unique experience.


For those seeking a longer and more challenging adventure, the Grand Loop Road provides a 70-mile loop that encompasses many of Yellowstone’s most famous attractions. Skiing along this route allows you to explore the park’s diverse landscapes, including snow-covered forests, open meadows, and frozen rivers.


If you’re looking for a more secluded and untouched experience, skiing to the remote Cascade Lake Cabin is a fantastic option. Located 8 miles from the nearest road, this rustic backcountry cabin can be reached via a challenging but rewarding ski tour. The journey takes you through pristine wilderness, offering a true escape from the modern world.


One of the highlights of cross-country skiing in Yellowstone is the opportunity to spot wildlife in their winter habitat. From bison and elk to foxes and coyotes, the park is home to a variety of species that thrive in the snowy landscape. Keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready for unforgettable encounters.


With its geothermal wonders, stunning landscapes, and abundant wildlife viewing opportunities, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone National Park is an experience like no other. Whether you choose a groomed trail or venture into the backcountry, you’ll be immersed in the natural beauty and tranquility of this world-famous park.


Big Sky Resort

If you’re looking for world-class cross-country skiing and a true winter sports experience, look no further than Big Sky Resort. Located in southwestern Montana, Big Sky Resort is a winter paradise that offers a wide array of activities, including some of the best cross-country skiing in the state.


Big Sky Resort boasts over 85 kilometers of groomed cross-country skiing trails, catering to skiers of all abilities. From gentle, meandering trails through peaceful forests to more challenging routes with rolling hills and scenic vistas, there is something for everyone to enjoy.


One of the highlights of cross-country skiing at Big Sky Resort is the scenic Lone Mountain Ranch. This extensive trail system encompasses over 85 kilometers of groomed tracks and takes you through awe-inspiring landscapes. Ski beneath towering peaks, through sparkling meadows, and alongside the pristine Gallatin River as you immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Montana’s backcountry.


For those seeking a thrill, the Moonlight Basin area offers exhilarating downhill sections combined with Nordic skiing, providing a unique and exciting experience. This trail system is perfect for adventurous skiers who enjoy the challenge of steep descents and fast-paced skiing.


Big Sky Resort also offers excellent amenities for cross-country skiers, including equipment rentals and lessons for all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the basics or an experienced skier looking to refine your technique, the knowledgeable instructors and friendly staff will ensure that you have a memorable and enjoyable experience on the trails.


After a day of skiing, relax and unwind at one of the resort’s cozy lodges or indulge in a delicious meal at one of the on-site restaurants. Soak in the stunning views of Lone Mountain as you enjoy a well-deserved après-ski experience.


With its extensive trail system, stunning scenery, and top-notch amenities, Big Sky Resort is a cross-country skier’s paradise. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you’ll find the perfect trails to suit your skill level and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Montana’s winter wonderland.


Flathead National Forest

Tucked away in the scenic northwestern corner of Montana, Flathead National Forest is a hidden gem for cross-country skiing enthusiasts. With its vast expanse of forests, sparkling lakes, and majestic mountains, this pristine wilderness provides a tranquil setting for outdoor adventures.


Flathead National Forest offers a network of groomed cross-country ski trails that cater to skiers of all skill levels. From gentle, beginner-friendly routes to more challenging trails, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this winter wonderland.


One of the popular cross-country ski areas within the forest is the Big Mountain Nordic Trails. Located near the town of Whitefish, these well-maintained trails offer a variety of options for skiers, from easy loops for beginners to longer, more challenging routes. As you ski through the peaceful forest, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the picturesque town of Whitefish below.


For those seeking a more backcountry experience, head to the Jewel Basin area. This vast wilderness boasts over 25,000 acres of pristine forests and alpine lakes, offering endless opportunities for off-trail exploration. Strap on your skis and venture into this winter wonderland, where true solitude and untouched beauty await.


Another highlight of Flathead National Forest is the Swan River Valley. The Swan River Valley Nordic Ski Trails provide a serene and peaceful experience, as you glide through snow-covered meadows and alongside the frozen river. This area is known for its abundant wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for deer, elk, and even the occasional wolf or lynx.


Whether you’re looking for a leisurely glide through serene landscapes or an adrenaline-pumping adventure in the backcountry, Flathead National Forest has it all. With its diverse trail systems, breathtaking scenery, and opportunities to spot wildlife, cross-country skiing in this hidden gem will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.


Lolo Pass

Located on the border of Montana and Idaho, Lolo Pass is a cross-country skier’s paradise. This scenic mountain pass is nestled in the heart of the Bitterroot Range and offers a unique and exhilarating skiing experience for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels.


Lolo Pass boasts a variety of well-groomed trails that wind through stunning alpine meadows, dense forests, and snow-covered mountains. The pass is part of the larger Lolo National Forest, providing a picturesque and serene backdrop for your cross-country skiing adventure.


One of the most popular trails at Lolo Pass is the Lolo National Historic Trail. This historic route follows the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, offering a fascinating glimpse into Montana’s past. Skiing along this trail allows you to immerse yourself in history while enjoying the beauty of the surrounding landscape.


For those seeking a challenge, the Lolo Pass Winter Recreation Area offers more advanced terrain. With over 60 kilometers of groomed trails, you’ll have plenty of options to test your skills. Experience the thrill of skiing through scenic backcountry areas and enjoy the solitude of the wilderness.


In addition to the groomed trails, Lolo Pass also provides opportunities for backcountry skiing. With its vast stretches of untouched powder, skiers can venture off-trail and explore the remote and rugged wilderness. However, it is important to be well-prepared and knowledgeable about avalanche safety if venturing into the backcountry.


Whether you’re a beginner looking for a scenic ski outing or an experienced skier seeking a challenging adventure, Lolo Pass has it all. The stunning natural beauty, diverse trail options, and sense of tranquility make it a beloved destination for cross-country skiing in Montana.


So strap on your skis, breathe in the crisp mountain air, and embark on an unforgettable cross-country skiing journey at Lolo Pass.


Hyalite Canyon

Hyalite Canyon, located just outside of Bozeman, Montana, is a hidden gem for cross-country skiing enthusiasts. Nestled in the Gallatin Range, this stunning canyon offers a tranquil and picturesque setting for a memorable winter adventure.


Hyalite Canyon is home to a variety of cross-country skiing trails, ranging from beginner-friendly loops to more challenging routes. The well-maintained trails wind through snow-covered forests, alongside frozen lakes, and offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.


The Hyalite Reservoir Loop is a popular trail that offers stunning views of the frozen reservoir and towering peaks. This intermediate-level loop is perfect for skiers looking for a scenic and moderately challenging outing. The peaceful surroundings and serenity of the frozen landscape make it a truly enchanting experience.


For more advanced skiers, the Blackmore Trail provides a thrilling and demanding adventure. This trail takes you up to the base of Blackmore Mountain, offering panoramic views of the surrounding wilderness. The climb is steep, but the rewarding vistas make it worth the effort.


Hyalite Canyon also provides opportunities for backcountry skiing. The area offers a vast expanse of untouched powder, allowing skiers to explore off-trail and create their own path through the pristine wilderness. However, it is important to have the necessary skills and equipment for backcountry skiing and be aware of the potential risks associated with venturing into unmarked terrain.


In addition to the skiing trails, Hyalite Canyon offers a range of winter activities, including ice climbing, snowshoeing, and winter camping. After a day of skiing, warm up by a roaring fire and enjoy the tranquility of the snowy surroundings.


Whether you’re seeking a leisurely ski through serene landscapes or a thrilling adventure on challenging trails, Hyalite Canyon provides an unforgettable cross-country skiing experience. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty, feel the exhilaration of gliding through the snow, and create lasting memories in this winter paradise.


Rendezvous Ski Trails

If you’re looking for world-class cross-country skiing in Montana, look no further than the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone. Situated near the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park, this trail system offers over 35 kilometers of pristine groomed trails and is a haven for cross-country skiing enthusiasts.


The Rendezvous Ski Trails are renowned for their exceptional quality and variety of terrain. The trails cater to skiers of all abilities, from beginners to seasoned veterans. Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned pro, you’ll find the perfect trail to match your skill level and indulge in the joy of gliding through the winter landscape.


One of the standout features of Rendezvous Ski Trails is the beautiful scenery that surrounds you as you ski. The trails wind through towering pine forests, open meadows, and alongside the picturesque Gallatin River. The stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains and the peaceful atmosphere make every moment on the trails a delight.


For beginners and those looking for a leisurely ski, the Riverside Trail is a great option. This scenic trail follows the Gallatin River and offers gentle slopes and breathtaking views. It’s the perfect trail for those who want to take their time and soak in the natural beauty of Montana.


For those seeking a challenge, the Deja View Loop offers a more hilly and exhilarating experience. This trail takes you up to an amazing viewpoint overlooking the Madison Valley, rewarding your efforts with stunning vistas and a sense of accomplishment.


The Rendezvous Ski Trails also host numerous events and races throughout the winter season, attracting cross-country skiers from around the world. Whether you’re a participant or a spectator, these events showcase the skill and athleticism of the sport and add an extra level of excitement to your visit.


With its top-notch grooming, breathtaking scenery, and diverse trail options, the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone is a must-visit destination for cross-country skiing enthusiasts. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful ski through serene landscapes or an exhilarating challenge, these trails provide an unforgettable experience in the heart of Montana’s winter wonderland.


Lone Mountain Ranch

Lone Mountain Ranch, nestled in the picturesque Gallatin Valley near Big Sky, Montana, offers a cross-country skiing experience like no other. With its pristine trails, breathtaking surroundings, and warm Western hospitality, this historic guest ranch is a perfect destination for those seeking an idyllic winter escape.


Lone Mountain Ranch boasts over 85 kilometers of meticulously groomed cross-country skiing trails that wind through meadows, forests, and alongside the stunning Gallatin River. With trails suitable for all skill levels, from beginners to advanced skiers, there is something for everyone to enjoy.


For beginners, the Meadow Loop is an ideal starting point. This gentle trail provides a relaxed setting to learn the basics of cross-country skiing while enjoying the tranquility of the ranch’s meadows and forests.


The intermediate-level trails, such as the Skyline and Homestead Loops, offer a combination of rolling terrain and sweeping views of Lone Mountain and the surrounding mountains. These trails provide a good balance of challenge and enjoyment for skiers looking to improve their skills and explore the breathtaking countryside.


For seasoned skiers seeking a more thrilling adventure, the Nordic Adventure Trail takes you into the backcountry of the Spanish Peaks. This trail offers a mix of steep descents and challenging climbs, along with awe-inspiring vistas that make every exhilarating moment worth it.


Aside from the amazing trails, Lone Mountain Ranch is known for its warm and welcoming atmosphere. After a day on the trails, cozy up by the fire in the lodge, indulge in delicious gourmet meals, and savor the ambiance of this historic ranch. The friendly staff and comfortable accommodations ensure that you have a memorable and enjoyable stay.


Additionally, Lone Mountain Ranch offers cross-country ski lessons for individuals or groups, led by experienced instructors who will guide you in perfecting your technique, whether you’re a beginner or looking to improve your skills.


With its beautiful trails, rustic charm, and unparalleled hospitality, Lone Mountain Ranch provides a cross-country skiing experience that is both invigorating and rejuvenating. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful ski through scenic landscapes or a thrilling adventure in the backcountry, a visit to Lone Mountain Ranch promises an unforgettable winter getaway in the heart of Montana.


Whitefish Mountain Resort

Whitefish Mountain Resort, nestled in the stunning Flathead Valley of Montana, is not only renowned for its world-class downhill skiing but also offers an exceptional cross-country skiing experience. With its diverse trail options and breathtaking scenery, Whitefish Mountain Resort is a winter paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.


The resort boasts an extensive network of cross-country skiing trails, ranging from easy, scenic loops to more challenging routes that take you through snow-covered forests and alongside frozen lakes. With over 12 kilometers of groomed trails, skiers of all skill levels can find a trail that suits their abilities and preferences.


For beginners and families, the Base Lodge Loop is a great place to start. This gentle, 1.2-mile loop provides a relaxed and enjoyable ski experience, perfect for those who are new to the sport or looking for a leisurely outing. The loop offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the charming village below.


For intermediate and advanced skiers, the Trapper’s Trail offers a more challenging adventure. This 6-mile loop takes you through thick forests and scenic meadows, providing a mix of uphill and downhill sections that will test your skills and endurance. The trail offers panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, making it a rewarding and memorable skiing experience.


Whitefish Mountain Resort also offers night skiing on select trails, allowing you to glide under the stars and experience the thrill of skiing in a different setting. The groomed trails, combined with the enchanting ambiance of nighttime skiing, create a magical and unforgettable experience.


In addition to the trails, Whitefish Mountain Resort provides excellent amenities to enhance your cross-country skiing experience. From equipment rentals to lessons for all skill levels, the resort has everything you need for a successful and enjoyable day on the slopes. After skiing, relax and unwind at one of the resort’s cozy lodges or treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of the on-site restaurants.


With its beautiful trails, breathtaking scenery, and top-notch amenities, Whitefish Mountain Resort offers an unforgettable cross-country skiing experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, the resort provides a winter wonderland where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of Montana’s snowy landscapes and create lasting memories on the trails.



Montana truly is a cross-country skier’s paradise, offering a wide range of enchanting destinations for winter sports enthusiasts. From the rugged beauty of Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks to the well-groomed trails of Big Sky Resort and Rendezvous Ski Trails, there is something for every level of skier to enjoy.


Whether you prefer the tranquility of exploring remote backcountry trails or the convenience of well-maintained tracks, Montana delivers stunning landscapes, pristine snow, and a sense of adventure like no other. The state’s diverse terrain, from rolling hills to towering mountains, provides a variety of skiing options that cater to all skill levels and preferences.


As you embark on your cross-country skiing journey in Montana, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and serenity of the surroundings. Immerse yourself in the crisp mountain air, witness wildlife in their natural habitat, and marvel at the breathtaking vistas that unfold before you.


Remember to plan ahead, dress in layers, and prepare for changing weather conditions. Safety should always be a priority, and it’s essential to be aware of avalanche risks and other potential hazards when venturing into the backcountry.


Whether you’re a seasoned skier or new to the sport, cross-country skiing in Montana offers not only a great workout but also a chance to reconnect with nature and find moments of peace and solitude. So grab your skis, explore the trails, and let your spirit soar in the winter wonderland that is Montana.


So, whether you choose to glide through the picturesque landscapes of Glacier National Park, explore the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone, or experience the thrill of skiing at resorts like Big Sky and Whitefish Mountain, Montana promises an unforgettable cross-country skiing adventure. Embrace the beauty, challenge yourself, and create memories that will last a lifetime in the majestic Big Sky Country of Montana.