The Season’s Last Turns

It’s springtime in southwest Montana, but for those willing to work for it, ski season isn’t even close to finished. We’ve handpicked a few of our favorite spring ski locations so that you to can enjoy what’s left from a long winter. Remember that all normal avy safety considerations apply—despite the (generally) more stable snowpack, you can still die while spring skiing. Start early and be safe.

Emigrant Peak
Rising tall and solitary out of Paradise Valley, Emigrant Peak is hard to miss when passing by on Highway 89. While both sides of the peak have plenty of skiable lines, the preferred route is the southeast couloir, offering a beautiful, sustained descent from the peak. Emigrant’s high elevation—just under 11,000 feet—and varied topography means you can generally find snow somewhere up there well into the springtime. Access from the west at Gold Prize Trailhead near Dailey Lake, or take the eastern route up Emigrant Gulch (past Chico Hot Springs) and park near Emigrant Creek. It’s a long slog to the top, but thoughts of a soak at Chico followed by a well-earned burger and beer in the bar should keep you going.

The Blaze
Not your quick afternoon set of turns, the Blaze—which is a white, vertical gash visible from the west side of the Gallatin Valley—is known for being difficult to reach but rewarding. Ask anyone about his or her first trip up to the Blaze and you'll be regaled with stories of bushwhacking, river crossings, and unbearable scree. Despite the difficult approach, the Blaze is a beautiful ski line and a great spring ski destination, which holds snow deep into the warm season—often into August—and is well worth the journey.

With a six-mile approach to the base of Blaze Mountain, an alpine start is required if you plan to actually ski some springtime corn. Skiing with a partner who has been there or getting a great set of directions will help ensure that you do not bring home more failed-Blaze-attempt stories. Access from the Spanish Creek trailhead and bring a map—the trail signs are spotty and it’s easy to take a wrong turn.

Mount Blackmore
Just south of Bozeman, Blackmore is an obvious choice. With a five-mile approach past beautiful, dense forest and an alpine lake, Mount Blackmore and neighboring Elephant Mountain are easily to reach via the well-traveled Blackmore trail. The saddle between Elephant and Blackmore offers an excellent selection of spring skiing lines that stay good late into the season on some aspects. One of the most well-traveled of all Bozeman-area mountains, Blackmore offers great spring skiing without the hassle. With spectacular views of the surrounding Gallatin Range and nearby Spanish Peaks, this area is a staple for many Bozeman residents nearly year round. Access from the new Blackmore trailhead on the right just before the main parking area at Hyalite Reservoir.