Snowbowl Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Snowbowl Trail Map
  • Vertical (ft)
    5,000 – 7,600 (2,600)
  • Average Snow Fall
    300 inches
  • Lifts (5)
    3 double chairs
    1 T-Bar
  • Ski Season
    early Dec - early Apr
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 39
    Longest run – 3 miles
    Beginner - 20%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Advanced - 40%

Snowbowl Montana Skiing & Snowboarding

The Snowbowl Ski Area in Montana has some amazing terrain, especially the advanced and expert skiing and snowboarding. If only we could flip around the aspect of Snowbowl Montana, it would be a phenomenal powder gem. And if we could add some better lifts too it would be perfect, but then the hordes would turn up and it would no longer be a gem!

Montana Snowbowl is quite a large ski area for only 3 main lifts, so as you’d expect, there is some transporting involved to get in and out of some of the runs. There are also various flattish spots on the peripheries of the Lavelle Creek area where poling or major speed maintenance is required to minimise snowboarders having to unclip.

A major expansion for the 2019-20 season and the addition of the Snow Park chair lift saw almost a doubling of the size of the terrain and some much needed additional terrain for intermediates and very confident beginners.

Lifts

The chair lifts are very old school. The ancient Grizzly and LaVelle chairs clunk along at a snail’s pace and you don’t have to worry about the U.S. culture of whether the safety bar should be down or not because there aren’t any. Even the “new” Snow Park chair lift is old, which was retired from Snowmass in Colorado.

The T-bar only opens when it’s busy, which unless it’s a powder day, it’s not busy. And last and least, the little ropetow for novices tops off the Snowbowl lift “fleet”.

The lifts open quite late: 9:30am during winter and 10:30am in spring, which may be due to the need for snow softening, or perhaps it has something to do with the beer culture in Missoula. Also keep an eye out for open days, as Snowbowl ski area isn’t open on all weekdays during early and late season.

Snowbowl Snow

I guess it’s called Snowbowl because it catches a lot of snow, which amounts to an average of 300 inches per season. To supplement Mother Nature, there’s also a little snowmaking in the lower elevations.

The Snowbowl Montana ski area has a range of aspects, so you’ll need to play with these depending on the time of day. The longest fall lines have a very sunny aspect. The trees are tight enough in many spots to protect the snow from the sun, whilst other areas are exposed to sun baking. Meanwhile some of the lines under and near the cliffs have more shade.

Montana Snowbowl Skiing for the Beginner

First Run serviced by the little ropetow is appropriately mellow for novices, and it’s nice and close to the solace of the day lodge. The lower run off the T-bar is supposedly green but rather steep, and the green runs in the Lavelle area terminate in blue runs so they’re not much good for greenhorns either. The Snow Park area has a couple of green runs suitable for confident beginners, because it’s a bit of an adventurous trek to get there and back.

Intermediate Skiing Snowbowl

Snowbowl Montana has a reasonably small number of blue runs, and as to be expected for a rustic ski area, not all the blue runs are groomed. Most of the blue runs are moderately pitched, whilst Lower Paradise is quite steep and has the added challenge of often being slick. You can download the Grizzly Chair if you want to avoid this run.

Terrain Park

Montana Snowbowl ski area has a small terrain park near the base of Sunrise which may include some big jumps. The major limitation is that the T-bar isn’t open all the time, and the opening of the actual terrain park seems even more sporadic. Understandably for a basic ski hill, the terrain park is not a priority.

Advanced Skiing Snowbowl

Snowbowl Ski Resort doesn’t differentiate between single and double blacks, so advanced riders will need to scope out lines. As a general rule, the cut runs are single black and mostly mogulled up whilst the named runs that look more like off-piste are more like double black territory. Take care with the tree skiing, because most of the trees are delightfully tight and challenging.

The very bottom of Bowl Outrun may be groomed, but not further up where you need it the most.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Montana Snowbowl has an abundance of delicious terrain for experts, so long as the snow is fresh or you’ve got legs of steel (and a steely resolve). Dropping in from the top there are some rock features and short chutes and a smattering of trees before the trees tighten up for some of the most epic tree skiing. The tree skiing offers great variety with a range of aspects, tree spacing and gradient. It’s mostly not super steep, but if you’re looking for pitch then drop in near the cliffs.

Sidecountry and Backcountry

From the Lavelle Creek area, short skins will take you to some short sunny lines that are quite visible from the ski area.