Amtrak's Empire Builder takes you on an exciting adventure through majestic wilderness. (Amtrak/Facebook)
Midwesterners can climb aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder to Whitefish Mountain Resort and save 20 percent on your train travel. It leaves Chicago’s Union Station with stops in Milwaukee, the Twin Cities and several other boarding locations across North Dakota and eastern Montana.
I’ve done this three times over the last 15 years, and it’s an easy overnight train ride from the Windy City. It’s a great way to see the northern tier of the Heartland and Glacial National Park as you pass through. You arrive refreshed and ready to hit the slopes. In addition to skiing, there is cross country skiing, snowshoe hikes, dog sledding, snowmobiling, and guided tours to nearby stunning Glacier National Park.
Big Mountain lives up to its name with over a 2,300-foot vertical drop. Slopes fall off the mountain in all directions. The ample terrain offers easy green boulevards from top to bottom. There are plenty of blue cruisers and molar-grinding glades, chutes, even a few 50-foot cliffs, and it’s all highlighted by supersized scenery. The snowcapped peaks of Glacier fill the far horizon and sparkling snow ghosts—powder shellacked trees—dots the top of the mountain.
The resort offers ski and stay packages on the mountain beginning from $88 per person, per night midweek at the Hibernation House that includes a hot breakfast and hot tub access. A January White Sale through the end of the month; book two nights and get a third night free. Longer stays get 33-percent off lodging and lift tickets. For an unusual gastronomic delight check out their Moonlight Dine & Ski, dinner at 7,000 feet on the summit overlooking the sparkling lights of Flathead Valley twinkling far below. Dress warmly for the chairlift ride to the top.
The friendly, funky town of Whitefish offers lots of lodging choices, theater, classic neighborhood bars with live music, and a bevy of good restaurants to choose from. The annual Whitefish Winter Carnival, highlighted by lots of family activities, takes place Feb. 3-5.