The 5 Best Après Ski Spots in Montana

Snowboard Expert Sadie Banks lists the 5 best spots to grab a drink, snack, or see some live music after a day on the snowy slopes of Montana!

A band playing in a restaurant. There is snow outside the window.

Photo by Sadie Banks

Montana is home to 14 ski resorts. The most well-known are Big Sky Resort in Big Sky and Big Mountain in Whitefish. These two resorts service skiers from all over the country, and are more of what you’d expect when traveling for a ski vacation. I highly recommend getting away from these luxury resorts for a day and checking out one of the other 12 mountains.

When looking to travel to Montana for skiing, take the time to look past Big Sky and Big Mountain. The 12 other mountains in Montana are primarily community owned and operated, servicing the locals. If you are looking into Big Sky Resort, think about Bridger Bowl as well. Bridger Bowl is closer to the town of Bozeman, MT, boasts eight lifts with 72 runs, and has some of the best backcountry skiing in the U.S.

While it is a further drive from the airport closest to Big Sky, Showdown near White Sulphur Springs, MT is another great option for sharing intimate moments with the locals and mountain. You can also consider flying into Billings, Missoula, or Helena for easier access to other amazing mountains like Red Lodge Mountain Resort, Great Divide, and Discovery Basin. While this article doesn’t feature these après-ski activities for these resorts, you are sure to find fun in their small towns.

Ski season in Montana usually lasts from December to the end of April, but check with the resorts’ websites to confirm when booking your trip. 11 of these 14 mountains are operated by their community, for their community. That said, how does one get along with the locals and fit in? By joining them for après-ski activities!

Westward Social at Big Sky Resort — Best for Happy Hour

View of the deck at Westward Social at Big Sky Resort.

Photo by Sadie Banks

Location: Big Sky Resort in the Main Base Area. A part of the Exchange Building. Key info: Happy hour runs from 3–6pm; menu is all shareables; great view of Lone Peak

Overview

When you finish your final run of the day and make it to the base of Big Sky’s two main lifts, Ramcharger and Swift Current, Westward Social is most likely going to be the first restaurant you see. They have about 12 tables for outdoor seating, with much more room for seating inside and bar seating.

Since happy hour runs from 3–6 pm, it is the perfect place for après-ski. Enjoy their happy hour canned beer selection or one of their signature cocktails. If you are a beer drinker, have the $5 Party Lager from Map Brewing (Located in Bozeman, MT) as a refreshing start to your afternoon. For those looking for a nice cocktail, the $10 Black Diamond Spritz is a great way to celebrate your long day on the mountain and includes Prosecco, blackberry, thyme, and lemon. Happy Hour also includes loaded fries to fill your rumbling tummy.

My Review

A dog sitting on the patio of a ski resort.

Photo by Sadie Banks

Westward Social is one of my go-to spots, not only in the winter but also in the summer. After a long day of skiing, hiking, or mountain biking, it is a must-stop for a beer and some loaded fries. Price-wise, it can be a bit of a splurge for me; but for those on vacation, it is a must-stop and well worth the money.

The Bierstube at Big Mountain — Best for Getting Rowdy with the Locals

A pool table in a bar.

Photo by Sadie Banks

Location: Big Mountain Resort in Whitefish Key info: Local hangout; beer, cocktails, wine, and pub food; pool tables and keno machines

Overview

The Bierstube is always packed for après-ski activities. Grab a drink and bite to eat, then mingle with the locals to learn the best runs on the mountain and places to eat in town. They have a selection of domestic beers as well as some local craft brews, so you are sure to find something you’ll like.

Their menu includes basic pub food, such as burgers and sandwiches, as well as a couple of appetizers to hold you over until your dinner reservations in the town of Whitefish, just 13 miles away. The Bierstube also hosts local artists for live music, which almost always leads to rowdy and loud crowds looking for a good time after a long, fun day.

My Review

The Bierstube forces you to interact with others, not only from it always being packed, but due to the seating set up of long picnic and bar tables. I made plenty of friends to ride with the next day and show me around the mountain. Prices are also better than you will find elsewhere in the base areas. The Bierstube is located in the upper base area, so if you end your day in the lower base area, you will have to catch the free shuttle, which drops you 100 yards from the entrance.

Face Shots in Jim Bridger Lodge at Bridger Bowl — Best for Live Music

Location: Jim Bridger Lodge at Bridger Bowl in Bozeman Key info: Live music or DJ on fridays, saturdays, and Sundays; full bar; easy access from base

Overview: Workers at Bridger Bowl call Face Shots the “employee bar,” but it is not exclusive! Who better to learn from about the mountain than those who spend almost every day of the season there? Drinks are cheap, bartenders are friendly, and every now and again you will find an employee buying rounds for everyone at the bar.

On weekends with events, you can find it getting pretty busy due to announcing winners and the live bands playing. You have to order at the bar but are more than welcome to meander outside to the patio with your drink. Face Shots also serves great food from Jimmy B’s, which is another restaurant and bar located inside Jim Bridger Lodge. Last Call is at 5pm, when the last free shuttle back to Bozeman leaves, but you’ll still find people hanging out until close to 7pm.

My Review

A man sitting at a bar making a silly face at the camera.

Photo by Sadie Banks

I am a ski and snowboard instructor at Bridger Bowl, so you will find me at Face Shots at the end of every workday winding down with my coworkers. While we can be a turbulent bunch, we love talking with those visiting from elsewhere and sharing fun facts about the mountain.

There are three bars at Bridger Bowl you can go to when lifts close, but I recommend this to always be your first stop.

Hole-in-the-Wall Saloon at Showdown — Best Bartenders and Locals

Location: Showdown Base Lodge in Neihart Key info: Large beer selection; great views; friendly people

Overview

The Hole-In-The-Wall Saloon is true to its name. Since Showdown isn’t located near any major airport hubs, it is often overlooked. Therefore, what is to be found is locals enjoying a few brews and each other's company before it’s time to head home. If you are visiting Showdown, you will most likely be staying in White Sulphur Springs. After enjoying a beer or one of their premixed drinks—as they don’t serve liquor—you should head over to the natural hot springs in White Sulphur Springs for a soak.

My Review

Three women sitting at a table in a ski bar.

Photo by Sadie Banks

The locals here are kind and genuine. On my trip to Showdown, I spent plenty of time at the Hole-in-the-Wall Saloon. At around 2 pm, my friends convinced me to go down Glory Hole, which is the most challenging run at Showdown. After that, I decided it was time to retire to the bar for some après-ski time. I got the opportunity to chat with bartenders and locals about how their season was going, as well as get some ideas for dinner. While I only live a little over 100 miles away, I can see them being just as gracious to anyone else, no matter where they are from. Make the trip to support a small, local hill!

The Filling Station — Best for Nightlife

The outside of a bar in the snow. The sign says "Filling Station" and it is night time.

Photo by Sadie Banks

Location: Bozeman Key info: Live music; dive bar; local hangout

Overview

Whether you are going to Bridger Bowl or staying in Bozeman after visiting Big Sky Resort, The Filling Station is a must-stop for nightlife. There is live music from Wednesday to Sunday by local and traveling musicians. Ski bums from near and far will find themself at home, as half the people here will most likely still be in their ski gear and ready to party. Music ranges from Folk to Metal to EDM, and all that in between. Drinks are cheap but only beer and wine are served. The Filling Station is probably the diviest bar in Bozeman, and it will not disappoint.

My Review

A band playing inside a dark bar.

Photo by Sadie Banks

You will find me at The Filling Station at least four times a month supporting local artists. Sometimes the après-ski activities don’t stop when you leave base and they need to follow you into town. It’s always a good time when the cheap drinks keep on flowing!

Connect with Us

Dependent on the time of year, there can be a wide array of apparel and accessories you may need for your trip. Let a Ski or Snowboard Expert here on Curated help you find warm apparel for those below-zero days, high-light goggles for bluebird powder days, new bindings to help you shred the steeps and deeps of Montana, or anything else winter sports related. Montana also has some of the best backcountry skiing in the world! If you are an expert skier or snowboarder looking to get into the backcountry, link up with us to get advice on touring setups and all the safety equipment and other accessories you may need.

Snowboard Expert Sadie Banks
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Sadie Banks
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