Ski Tour: Telemark Meadows
Approach Distance: .5 to 1 mile
Approach Gain: 300 to 600 feet
Skiable Vertical: 500 feet
Duration: 1 to 2 hours
Distance from Bozeman: 1.5 hours
Avalanche Hazard*: Low
With tons of snowfall, plenty of space to spread out, and not a sliver of avalanche terrain, Tele Meadows is an awesome place to test the waters if you're new to ski touring, or for more seasoned skiers to lay down some fresh tracks after a big storm while waiting for the avy danger to subside. Plus, it's entirely within Yellowstone National Park—pretty cool, eh? Skiable slopes are a stone's throw from the parking area—you're not going to find a shorter approach anywhere in southwest Montana (though at the parking area, you're technically in Wyoming). If you're looking to find some truly untracked snow, you can explore farther to the south for more clearings. A word to the wise: this area is becoming more popular each year, and the parking pullout is quite small. Try to leave as much space as possible for other people to park—even if you're the only one there when you pull up. And if you're getting a late start, perhaps have a backup plan in case there's no room.
Head south on Hwy. 191 past Big Sky. Nine miles after the Yellowstone National Park sign, park in the pullout on the right. You'll see the ski slopes from the road. If you cross a stream and start climbing, you've gone too far.
There are tons of low-angle meadows in this area; we've outlined two on the map below, but don't hesitate to do some exploring. From the pullout, cross the stream (find a snow bridge or splash across) and start climbing to the west, into the trees and toward the first meadow. Bear right and skin up here (A), or continue through the trees on your left to reach the second meadow (B).
No matter what meadow you find yourself atop, peel those skins, point 'em downhill, and rip it up! The terrain here might not have the heart-thumping capacity of some higher peaks in the area, but you'll know you're safe from avalanche danger, and you may even find some fun little features to play around on. Enjoy the snow-covered trees, the wild national-park landscape, and the views of the southern Gallatin Range. Plan on doing more than one lap—you'll want to make the drive down there worth it. Challenge your friends to a competition for most laps, then roll into West Yellowstone and make the loser buy beers at the Buffalo Bar.
*Avalanche hazard refers to terrain risk only. Always travel with a partner and rescue gear, evaluate conditions carefully, and check the forecast before heading out.