Whitefish Winter Carnival World Ski Joring Championships, Whitefish, Montana "Suggestion for Best Winter Trips"
Photograph by Kat Gebauer/Green Kat Photography
The Big Sky brand of equestrian skijoring (derived from the Norwegiansnörekjöring or “driving with ropes”) is wild, western, and guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping. At the Whitefish Winter Carnival World Ski Joring Championships, horse (or mule) and rider teams pull daredevil skiers on high-flying runs around a snowy, 800-foot-long horseshoe-shaped course. Slalom gates, curves, and jumps increase the thrills—and the potential for spectacular spills.
When to Go: The World Ski Joring Championship races are held January 25-26 (registration events are January 24), two weekends before the mainWhitefish Winter Carnival, February 7-9.
How to Get Around: Whitefish is in northwestern Montana, 60 miles south of the Canadian border. Flights arrive at Glacier Park International Airport, located 11 miles southeast of Whitefish. Amtrak’s Empire Builder arrives twice daily at the Whitefish Depot. Rental cars are available at both locations. The skijoring competition is held at the Whitefish Municipal Airport, one mile east of town. December 7 to April 6, a free SNOW (Shuttle Network of Whitefish) bus connects downtown Whitefish to the Whitefish Mountain Resort and several locations in between.
Where to Stay: Kandahar Lodge at Whitefish Mountain Resort is a comfortably elegant alpine inn located on the free SNOW route, seven miles from Whitefish. The 50 rooms and suites, including six lofts with full kitchens, are styled with warm cedar-and-pine architectural details. Spend the day on the slopes, then ski back to the lodge to sip hot cider in front of the wood-burning, river-rock fireplace.
Where to Eat or Drink: You can’t get more local than the Great Northern Bar and Grill, where 12 kinds of burgers top the menu, dozens of signs from defunct Whitefish businesses line the walls, and live music is featured four to five nights a week. At Pescado Blanco in the Railway District, chef David Lewis specializes in fresh, mountain-Mexican fusion fare, like bison enchiladas and elk chorizo.
What to Buy: Visit the Montana Coffee Traders on Highway 93 for a roasting facility tour (Monday-Friday at 10 a.m.) before buying a bag of their whole beans or ground coffee. Locally inspired flavors include Huckleberry and Flathead Cherry, or choose a signature blend like Montana, Glacier, or Grizzly.
What to Read Before You Go: The short stories and novellas in Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It and Other Stories are set in western Montana.
Fun Fact: Equestrian skijoring races have been held in St. Moritz since the early 1900s. When the Swiss resort town hosted the 1928 Winter Olympics, skijoring was included as a demonstration sport.