With some of the continent’s steepest in-bounds terrain and virtually no infrastructure, Beartooth Basin is the only summer-specific ski area in North America. There’s no warming hut or anything resembling a lodge. Two porta-potties that sway in the mountain wind serve as restrooms. A generator supplies electricity for the two minimalist lifts, which pull skiers and snowboarders up the glacier-carved Twin Lakes Headwall.
In June of 2017, Beartooth Basin and the Mountain Rider’s Alliance hosted the first annual Summer Shredfest. Skiers participated in a freeride competition to see who could ski the most daring line down the mountain.
The Best Summer Skiing is Hidden in North America
Beartooth Basin draws expert skiers to dramatic backcountry snow under Montana's summer sun.
High in the Beartooth Mountains near the thin-aired border of Montana and Wyoming is one of the most unusual ski areas in North America. At almost 11,000 feet above sea level and inaccessible by car in the winter, the region can't be reached until around late May after plows have dug through the area's towering walls of snow. At that point, Beartooth Basin is open to skiers—more than a month after most areas have closed up shop. Along with the surrounding mountains and their reliable summer snowpack, the basin attracts a colorful community of diehard skiers who keep plunging down mountainsides on skis and snowboards well into July.
See more summer skiing in the video Montana By Dirt: Summer Skiing.
Aaron Teasdale is an adventure and conservation writer and photographer based in Missoula, Montana. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
- Nat Geo Expeditions