Winter Season at Downing Mountain Lodge

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Inside, guests will find a massive central fireplace, a large community living room, three bedrooms with beds for ten to fourteen people, wifi, a stereo, two bathrooms with a shower, and a full commercial kitchen. On the north lawn is a Jacuzzi. After skiing for the day on Downing Mountain, enjoy the privacy of the lodge, the full commercial kitchen, a crackling fire, playing Foosball and other games, and hot tubbing or relaxing in the sauna with friends. 

Our rates vary with the season and from weekdays to weekends, from $50-$100 per person. We request a ten person minimum on prime time ski weekends at $85 per person per night alternating with hostel style for $75 per person during the weekdays unless an 8 person group books an exclusive stay. 7% lodging tax will be added to all overnight stays. Rules like these are meant to be flexible so get in touch and let us know your needs, we are happy to try to accommodate folks in a variety of financial circumstances. Call me! - John at 406-531-1486 or email

Downing Mountain Ski Map- labeled detail approximate, use with caution and respect!

Getting Here + nearby

With good access to the lodge along a mountain road, getting to Downing Mountain Lodge, at 5,550 feet, is easy and straightforward: a mile and a half ski to the lodge in the winter from the end of the plowed road and vehicle access the rest of the year when the road is snow free.

Hamilton and nearby Missoula are both full-service communities, filled with Montana character and charisma. Missoula is served by direct air flights from Denver, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Seattle, Spokane, Boise, and Las Vegas. Drive times to Hamilton are about eight hours from both Salt Lake City and Seattle, and four hours from Spokane, Washington and Bozeman, Montana. Hamilton is a mere twenty minute drive from the lodge during the open road months and the lodge boasts an amazing view over town and the north end of the Bitterroot Valley to St. Mary's Peak and the Rattlesnake Wilderness north of Missoula.

backcountry skiing

Guests will enjoy amazing backcountry skiing on Forest Service lands adjacent to the lodge, with 3,000 feet of mountain rising directly behind the lodge. The bowls, faces, and glades of Downing Mountain are uphill and to the west, providing Forest Service access to the endless Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. A private access road ensures privacy, with no day skiing permitted, no snow machines, and no public access. Ski runs vary from short intermediate runs near the lodge, to 2,800-foot fall line runs back to the lodge off the summit ridge. For the adrenaline junkie the terrain provides steep alpine bowls and faces; and for those high-avalanche-danger days there are plenty of moderate, north-facing glades. For the committed and dedicated ski tourer there are a number of 3,500-3,750 foot peak to creek runs to test your endurance and long run love. Extensive glading has taken place in the main bowl, enhancing the terrain each year with new openings and and amazingly well spaced burnt-tree glades.

Backcountry skiing at Downing Mountain Lodge is reserved for lodge guests only, ensuring your privacy on the mountain. The roadway and parking are private and only for use by guests of DML. No Day Skiing.

Guided Backcountry Skiing on the Bitterroot National Forest. Enjoy the best of local knowledge and hire John Lehrman as your ski guide at Downing Mountain Lodge or further afield in the Bitterroot Mountains. 406-531-1486 to reach John Lehrman makereservations and for more information. $400 1-4 guests $700 5-10 guests. Guided groups are encouraged to be of similar ability so that we can best meet the needs of the entire group.

Guided day trips throughout the Bitterroot Mountains. Open guided day trips for 2017 have a six person maximum and cost $125 per person. Locations will be determined by weather and snow coverage but will be picked from the following list: Gash Point, Camas Peak, Canyon Peak, Sky Pilot Peak, El Capitan Peak, Little St Joseph Peak, Downing Mountain and Ward Mountain. Anticipate being up early and out all day skiing around 5,000 vertical feet.

mountain Safety

All participants must supply their own full width, edge to edge skins for their skis or split board, a beacon, shovel, and probe pole and participants should be athletically fit and able to negotiate tree skiing at least at an high intermediate level. These excursions are not suitable for first timers in the backcountry! Bring your own food, water and thermos for tea.

Backcountry Ski Skills Course, January 9-11, 2017 taught by lodge owner and professional guide John Lehrman and professional guide Blake Votilla. This intermediate course for participants with basic backcountry skills focuses on trip planning and design, uphill and downhill technique, route finding, group dynamics, decision making and hazard awareness and evaluation. $395 includes lodging, gear shuttle, and instruction. Bring your own food and beverage.

AIARE Avalanche Education Classes: please contact Dennison Webb directly at S.O.L.E. 928-351-7653 or email

Avalanche Level 1, 24 hour course: March 2018 $495 non SOLE member; all inclusive instruction, lodging, meals

Avalanche Level 2, 32 hour course March 2018 $695 non SOLE member; all inclusive

We are pleased to again be offering a level 1 AIARE avalanche class as well as our first Level 2 AVY class based at Downing Mountain Lodge. AIARE is the leading provider of curriculum based avalanche classes and sets the bar for education in this field of study. Suitable for the winter recreationist looking for a solid introduction to avalanche education or the aspiring avalanche forecaster or backcountry ski guide, these courses are the primers on which all other avalanche education is based. George D'Angelo, Dennison Webb, and Kirk Bachman have years of experience backcountry skiing, climbing and teaching avalanche education classes in the Missoula area as well as in central and north Idaho and the Tetons.
The 24 hour course will lay the groundwork for winter backcountry enthusiasts to travel safely, securely and enjoyably. With two nights lodging at Downing Mountain Lodge and three days spent studying snowpack, assessing terrain, and skiing at Downing Mountain, it will be a great three days of education and enjoyment. We have a limited number of spots available on this hut based course and the price includes Level 1 certification, instruction and materials, food and lodging. We look forward to this fourth season of avalanche education and being able to provide the highest quality training for our guests and the backcountry community. The 32 hour Level 2 course led by Kirk Bachman is the next step in avalanche education and delves into the details and nuances of forecasting, snowpack evaluation and terrain and group management skills more thoroughly and to a deeper level. Expect a fast paced class and an expectation that you have been active in the snow science field during the winter. S.O.L.E is a non-profit outdoor education and leadership school based in Sandpoint, Idaho with a mission to bring the best in outdoor leadership education to the best venues in the Interior Northwest. This weekend course will be a real success led by a leader in the field with many decades of experience. We look forward to hosting these formative courses for our guests.

Backcountry Focus

For detailed information on Backcountry skiing, visit