Big Mountain Ski Area
- Employment: Big Mountain Job Listings
- Population: Whitefish 6,300
- Area Information:
- Local Newspapers: Daily Interlake, Whitefish Pilot
- Annual Snowfall: 300"
- Ski Season: Thanksgiving-mid-April
- Average cost 1-bedroom Apartment: $675-$800
- Lift Ticket Prices
Not long ago, the rugged peaks of Big Mountain were virtually undiscovered by anyone except Montana locals. Now, many non-natives are not only visiting the area, but moving to the region for the air quality and simplicity of country living. Movie and sports stars live and vacation near Big Mountain to escape the press and city life. Only visitors will get excited about this kind of celebrity hype; locals don't even raise an eyebrow. The friendly locals treat everyone (who deserves it) with genuine hospitality. Big Mountain is located in the far northwest corner of Montana, eight miles from the town of Whitefish. Don't be surprised to see more wandering elk and bald eagles than humans in this part of the country.
Big Mountain definitely holds true to its name. With an amazing 3,000 skiable acres and 2,200 vertical feet, the mountain is most definitely BIG! Literally anywhere you want to ski is open to exploration (obviously caution is of the essence) and skiers are encouraged to venture beyond established runs for a true challenge. For these reasons, Big Mountain is mainly an intermediate and expert mountain lacking a lot of beginner terrain. Big Mountain has an "inland maritime" weather condition so it doesn't get the sunshine associated with the Southern Rockies, but it does get tons of great snow.
The area around Big Mountain has cross-country skiing for all levels, and there are fifteen kilometers of groomed trails and unplowed areas for the more adventurous. Snowboarding is allowed on the mountain, and the area provides the perfect opportunity to layer on clothes and go snowmobiling, sleigh-riding, or dog-sledding.
Montana has only three real months of summer, but those ninety days are something to behold: blue skies, dry air, and warm to hot temperatures. The spectacular mountain ranges and alpine meadows make for challenging hiking, biking, or horseback adventures and excellent wildflower identification opportunities. The mountains also contain clear, cold lakes and streams that are great places to cool down or learn to fly fish.
Big Mountain and Whitefish do not boast a roaring nightlife; indeed, the most popular annual event is the internationally famous mouse race (yes, mouse race) at the Palace Bar. However, there are assorted restaurants and bars for basic beer and pizza après-ski activity and good company. At the base of the mountain you will find a cluster of five hotels and condos with a few eating establishments and watering holes. There are no "lite" or "diet" dishes at Big Mountain, likewise with fancy flambées or patés. Dinners usually consist of good old-fashioned American meals: American-Italian, American-Chinese, or Tex Mex. Dos Amigos, Rocco's, and The Coyote Roadhouse have decent menus and filling portions. There are more opportunities in town along Central Avenue, and this also makes for easy bar-hopping. Musical choices are rock or country. For boot-stomping, rowdy cowboys, and cheap beer, go to the Blue Moon Nite Club in nearby Columbia Falls. The town of Whitefish offers great eats and beer at the famed Black Star Brewery.
Most travelers to Big Mountain fly into Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, MT. Service includes flights from Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and many Northwest cities. Another option is to travel by Amtrak's trains from Seattle and Portland to the west and Chicago and Minneapolis to the east.
Big Mountain provides an employee shuttle service from Whitefish, and the Whitefish Area Rapid Transit (WART) system also links greater Whitefish and the Big Mountain area. Buses run just four times a day, which can be limiting for those dependent on the system. Carpools are also popular.
Big Mountain does not have employee housing, so it is best to stay in Whitefish, Kalispell, or Columbia Falls in which there are more housing options. The area is experiencing a housing shortage, so don't exclude campgrounds, RV parks, or renting part of a house as possible options. Otherwise, expect to pay handsomely for an apartment. The local papers or a realtor will most likely be able to answer any questions you have about rates and availability in the area.
The best time to apply for winter employment is mid-September. Interviews are normally scheduled for October. The summer employment process begins mid-March, with interviews in May. The resort accepts applications throughout the season, and hires as need dictates. The area has a job service, (406) 758-6200, that can answer any questions about current job opportunities at Big Mountain.