Travel time: 4 hours
The panoramic views at Whitefish Mountain Resort (skiwhitefish.com), which include Glacier National Park, will amaze you, as will the fact that this 3,000-acre ski area is still a relative secret—and bargain. Intermediate skiers flock to cruisers like Inspiration, which hugs a tree-lined pass on Big Mountain before opening to a scenic route down; meanwhile, experts shoot off the steep cliffs of the East Rim. Everyone gets lucky on so-called inversion days, which usually hit a few times every winter: High pressure causes clouds to form close to the valley floor, leaving skiers overlooking a stunning ocean of powder puff.
Lift tickets: From $71
While there: Hang out in the artsy mountain town of Whitefish. At the Stumptown Art Studio (stumptownartstudio.org), a nonprofit community center, the staff will help you make a mosaic, paint pottery, or fuse glass and fire it in the onsite kiln. From January 23 to 25, head to the World Ski Joring Championships, a skiing-meets-rodeo contest in which horses pull skiers around a 700-foot obstacle course.
Where to stay: The Lodge at Whitefish Lake (from $115, lodgeatwhitefishlake.com) positions you between town and mountain, with free shuttle service to both. Warm up in front of your fireplace—every room has one, as do the two new luxury cabins (from $426).
Getting there: United now offers seasonal direct flights to Kalispell every Saturday. Fly there in three hours and 45 minutes, then drive 15 minutes to Whitefish. Other days, connect through Denver for a six-hour trip.
Lift ticket prices are per day and based on purchase at least a week in advance.