Turner Mountain used to be known for having North America’s longest t-bar – a questionable distinction. These days the t-bar is gone and a somewhat more modern chairlift slings skiers up 2,000 vertical feet. Turner has other distinctions, however – this super remote mountain (be careful on the long access road, which is not always meticulously maintained) has low-balled lift tickets, a hometown vibe, and the feeling that it’s a fly stuck in amber when viewed against what passes for a “ski resort” these days. The mountain is open just four days a week, which means that the snow that falls Sunday night through Thursday morning sits waiting patiently for weekend warriors. Also notable – Turner is one of just a handful of ski areas in America which can be rented by private parties for the day. Fancy a birthday to remember?
The Cabinet Mountains of far Northwest Montana are largely preserved as wilderness. These high summits hold grizzlies, lofty peaks, deep lakes, and even a glacier. By far the most popular spot here is the justly-famous Leigh Lake, accessible by a tough 4-mile trail at the end of a rough road. Leigh Lake is clear and beautiful, set against wild mountains and roamed by mountain goats. The road to the lake is not plowed, so easy access is only during the summer months. The nearest services are in Libby.