Montana in February: A Montanan Travel Guide

Curious about what lies in store for you in Big Sky Country during the month of February? You’ve come to the right place.

Prepare to explore vast snow-covered landscapes, experience the thrill of skiing down powdery slopes, and uncover nature’s majestic beauty.

I understand the apprehension that comes with planning a trip to Montana during this time of year when snowstorms loom on the horizon.

Rest assured, I am here to navigate this frosty state and ensure a seamless adventure for you.

This guide is specially written for those seeking an extraordinary experience in Montana during February.

Now, let’s embark on a journey together, where winter outdoor adventures and charming events await your arrival.

Montana in February: Reasons to Visit

A snowy slope in Montana with a mountain in the background.

February in Montana beckons an array of winter activities, making it a beautiful time to explore the diverse range of snowy adventures on offer.

While Glacier National Park remains open throughout the year, it’s important to note that many services and roads are closed during the winter season.

Despite this, there are ample opportunities to partake in various enchanting winter activities within the park.

Downhill skiing enthusiasts can hit the slopes at world-class resorts like the Whitefish Mountain Resort.

They make the most out of the cold temperatures by engaging in exhilarating activities such as skiing snowboarding, snowshoeing, tubing, and snowmobiling, where you can marvel at the breathtaking snow-covered mountains.

Ice fishing aficionados can test their skills on frozen lakes, while adventurous souls can embark on cross-country skiing, immersing themselves in nature’s tranquility.

Hot springs are also a thing in Montana during February. Chico Hot Springs, open year-round, offers a soothing oasis amidst the chilly temperatures.

However, it’s essential to note that some hot springs may have seasonal closures, so be sure to check specific destinations for current accessibility and updates before planning your visit.

In February, Montana also hosts exciting events such as the Whitefish Winter Carnival, where you can immerse yourself in winter-themed fun, and the Race to the Sky sled dog race, a thrilling spectacle of human and canine athleticism.

Moreover, Winter Brewfest in Missoula offers a delightful opportunity to explore local breweries in the town.

While planning your trip, it’s crucial to be aware that certain attractions, roads, and tourist amenities in Yellowstone National Park may be closed during this time.

Two lodges remain open in the park—Mammoth Hot Springs accessible by car, and Old Faithful, which requires over-snow vehicles like snowmobiles or snow coaches.

It’s essential to be well-prepared for the cold cloudy conditions and plan accordingly to make the most of your visit despite potential challenges.

So, pack your winter gear and head to Montana this February. The myriad of activities, stunning scenery, and warm local hospitality will surely make it a trip to remember.

Montana in February: Weather Conditions

A man in a yellow jacket skiing down a snowy slope in Montana.

In February, you can expect temperatures to range from chilly to downright freezing.

While the month brings snowfall and offers a different kind of tourist experience compared to Montana’s radiant June days, it’s also a significant time when winter sports enthusiasts from far and wide come to experience the state’s famous ski resorts.

That said, it’s essential to come prepared, as the weather can be unpredictable, and conditions can change rapidly. 

Average Temperatures During February

A horse standing in a snowy pasture in Montana with mountains in the background.

February in Montana brings cold temperatures, falling snowflakes, and mostly overcast skies.

LocationAverage TemperatureWarmest Temperature MeanColdest Temperature MeanPrecipitation (inches)
Billings28.5°F (−1.9°C)38.7°F (3.7°C)16.5°F (−8.6°C)0.68″
Kalispell23.9°F (−4.5°C)33.1°F (0.6°C)14.7°F (−9.6°C)0.67″
Missoula25.4°F (−3.7°C)35.6°F (2.0°C)15.2°F (−9.3°C)0.72″
Bozeman23.9°F (−4.5°C)35.2°F (1.8°C)12.6°F (−10.8°C)0.93″
Helena24.4°F (−4.2°C)34.7°F (1.5°C)14.1°F (−9.9°C)0.70″
West Yellowstone11.0°F (−11.7°C)27.0°F (−2.8°C)−4.9°F (−20.5°C)1.84″

In February, the cities of Billings, Kalispell, Missoula, Bozeman, Helena, and West Yellowstone each exhibit their own distinct winter characteristics.

Billings stands as a bustling metropolis with the highest maximum temperature with moderate precipitation, while Kalispell offers a slightly chillier experience.

Missoula, nestled in scenic landscapes, sees moderate precipitation similar to Helena, the capital city.

Bozeman, a vibrant hub for outdoor enthusiasts, encounters slightly more precipitation than Kalispell.

West Yellowstone on the other hand experiences the lowest temperatures among these locations and receives the highest level of precipitation.

To navigate this winter wonderland, both residents and visitors need to equip themselves with warm clothing and embrace the plethora of winter sports and activities available.

What to Wear in Montana During February

A group of people walking on snowshoes in Montana in February.

When it comes to braving the cold weather in Montana during February, dressing in layers is key.

In February, you’ll generally need a moisture-wicking base layer that keeps you dry, a cozy mid-layer that provides insulation, and a waterproof and windproof outer layer that shields you from the icy wind.

Insulated, waterproof boots with excellent traction are an absolute must. You want your feet to stay warm and dry, but you also need them firmly planted on the ground.

And don’t forget the importance of finding spacious boots for thick socks but not so roomy that you end up sliding around and nursing blisters.

A warm hat, gloves, and a scarf or neck gaiter are essential to protect against the biting cold. These simple accessories can make all the difference in keeping you cozy and comfortable.

Wool or synthetic socks are a godsend when it comes to keeping your feet warm and dry.

They provide that extra layer of insulation and moisture-wicking properties, ensuring your feet stay happy and healthy.

If you’re planning on engaging in outdoor activities like skiing or snowshoeing, make sure you’re equipped with the right gear.

Ski pants, a ski jacket, goggles, hand warmers, and extra thick socks are all necessities for extended periods outside. Don’t skimp on these essentials.

For those on a budget, fear not! Thrift stores can be a treasure trove of adequate winter clothing at an affordable price.

And if you’re really looking to support local companies and Montana’s preservation efforts, check out Oboz Footwear for excellent winter wear.

Montana in February: Things to Do

A snowy scene with a river and mountains in Montana.

When it comes to Montana in February, there’s no shortage of exciting activities to partake in.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast seeking outdoor adventure or you are looking for unique experiences, this state has something for everyone.

1. Visit Glacier National Park

A frozen lake in Montana with mountains in the background.

During February, due to the winter weather, most roads in Glacier National Park are closed.

However, you can visit the Going-to-the-Sun Road from West Glacier to Lake McDonald Lodge as it is plowed and open year-round.

This route provides excellent views of Lake McDonald and the mountains to the east. 

Winter activities such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling are available, and the park offers beautiful snowy landscapes.

It’s important to note that most park amenities are closed during the entire month of February, so visitors need to be self-sufficient and plan their trips carefully.

The park isn’t providing guided snowshoe trips in February due to staffing shortages. However, several trails around Apgar Village are open for skiing and snowshoeing.

The unplowed section of Going-to-the-Sun Road past Lake McDonald Lodge is a favorite route for winter skiing and snowshoeing. You can find winter recreation maps and brochures at Park Headquarters and the Apgar Visitor Center.

When visiting in February, it’s essential to pack appropriately for the cold weather and be prepared for road closures and limited cell service

2. Enjoy Skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort

A snow-covered slope in Montana in February.

Whitefish Mountain Resort is a skiing haven, covering an extensive 3,000 acres and accommodating skiers of every skill level, ensuring there’s something enjoyable for all.

The expansive terrain boasts wide-open slopes, tree-lined groomed runs, and challenging trails, all set against a backdrop of amazing mountain views.

One of the highlights of Whitefish Mountain Resort is the variety of skiing challenges it presents. From the exhilarating black diamond runs to the more gentle slopes, every skier can find their perfect match.

It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, Whitefish Mountain Resort ensures a rewarding experience for all levels.

The terrain and lift lines play a vital role in creating an exceptional skiing experience. Combined with the top-notch quality of snow, it’s a winning combination that guarantees endless fun on the slopes.

But skiing isn’t the only winter sport you can enjoy here. Whitefish Mountain Resort offers a plethora of activities to please every winter enthusiast.

Other activities you can enjoy here include:

  • Snowboarding
  • Snowshoeing
  • Tubing
  • Nordic Skiing
  • Snowmobiling

Visitors can make the most of their time at the resort by trying their hand at these exciting activities.

Beyond the slopes, Whitefish Mountain Resort possesses a local charm that adds to its allure.

The welcoming ski town is adorned with delightful dining establishments, vibrant shopping opportunities, and various lodging options.

If you find yourself far from the town of Whitefish, alternatives such as the Bridger Bowl are also great

However, if you are near Whitefish then Whitefish Mountain Resort ensures a well-rounded experience that extends far beyond the thrill of skiing.

3. Cross-country Skii at Yellowstone National Park

Two people cross-country skiing through the snowy landscape of Montana.

Yellowstone National Park offers a diverse range of cross-country skiing experiences, catering to individuals with varying preferences and skill levels.

With miles of pristine trails, including unplowed roads, this winter wonderland caters to skiers of all skill levels. 

However, it is important to note that during the winter months, the park has limited entrance points.

In fact, the only entrance open in February is the northern entrance in Gardiner, Montana.

Most roads are open to motorized oversnow travel only from mid-December through mid-March.

Visitors must use snowmobiles or special oversnow coaches, but they can still access the park’s trails for cross-country skiing.

So, if you’re planning a visit during this time, make sure to plan accordingly and enter the park through the designated entrance.

Luckily, Mammoth Springs Lodge and Old Faithful Winter Lodge in Yellowstone National Park are open year-round, including February.

These lodges provide not only a cozy place to stay but also a range of amenities for skiers.

From ski rentals and lessons to shuttles and guided tours, they have everything you need to make the most of your skiing adventure.

And after a long day on the trails, you can enjoy on-site dining options and unwind in comfortable lodging.

Here are ski trails in Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful Area that you should check out:

Trail NameDescriptionLength
Bighorn Loop Ski TrailA loop trail ranging from easy to more difficult. Takes skiers through rolling terrain with outstanding winter landscape views.5.5 miles (8.85 km)
Bunsen Peak Road Ski TrailA one-way skier-tracked trail with varying difficulty. Two trailhead options. Offers views of Swan Lake Flats, the Gardner Canyon, and the Gallatin Mountains.6-mile (9.6-km)
Indian Creek Loop Ski TrailA skier-tracked, easy trail and is suitable for all ability levels.2.2 miles (3.5 km)
Upper Terrace Loop Ski TrailA groomed loop with varying difficulty. Takes you around Upper Terrace Drive, offering views of thermal features, the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District, and distant snow-covered mountain ranges.1.5 miles (2.4 km)
The Lone Star Geyser Ski TrailA round-trip trail, an easy, machine-groomed trail that takes skiers along the Firehole River to Lone Star Geyser.9 mile (14.4 km)
Black Sand Basin Ski TrailA groomed round trip and the easiest trail. Begins in front of the Old Faithful Visitor Center, passing Castle Geyser, Daisy Geyser, and leading to Black Sand Basin.4 miles (6.4 km)

If skiing isn’t your cup of tea, Yellowstone National Park also offers alternative winter activities.

Snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and guided ski tours are just a few options available for visitors who prefer not to cross-country ski.

Yellowstone National Park is definitely a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts in February and throughout the winter season. 

4. Soak at Chico Hot Springs

Chico Hot Springs in Montana

If you’re in need of a rejuvenating and relaxing getaway, look no further than Chico Hot Springs Resort and Day Spa in Paradise Valley, Montana.

In the month of February, this hidden gem offers a truly transformative soaking experience that will melt away all your worries and leave you feeling refreshed and renewed.

At Chico, you’ll find 2 open-air natural mineral hot springs pools that provide the perfect environment for soaking, swimming, playing, and simply basking in the serenity of nature.

These pools, heated by geothermal energy, offer a chemical-free and therapeutic experience like no other.

The temperature is naturally regulated, so you can always count on a comfortable and soothing soak.

But Chico Hot Springs offers more than just soaking. They provide a range of amenities and services that will ensure you have a complete and serene experience.

Their amenities and services include luxurious spa treatments and scenic trail rides with gentle Montana horses, catering to a variety of preferences for a complete and serene visit.

If you’re a nature lover, you can explore the surrounding area through hiking and mountain biking trails.

And for those who have a creative side, plein air painting classes are available to help you capture the beauty of Paradise Valley on canvas.

So make sure to check out these activities offered in Chico Hot Springs if you have extra time on your trip.

It’s the perfect escape from the stresses of everyday life and a true gift to yourself.

5. Get a Thrill Out of Ice Fishing Near Helena

A group of people fishing in the snow on a frozen lake in Montana during February.

I had the most thrilling ice fishing adventure near Helena, Montana.

Ice fishing near Helena in February is an angler’s paradise, with popular fishing spots like Holter Lake, Hauser Lake, and Canyon Ferry Lake offering excellent ice fishing conditions and an abundance of fish.

Ice fishing near Helena offers opportunities to catch various fish species like rainbow trout, perch, and kokanee.

Anglers often find it challenging to reel in these fish, but the pursuit delivers an unmatched thrill during the fishing experience.

For those looking to learn more or explore the lakes in the area, guided ice fishing trips are readily available.

These trips provide all the necessary equipment and offer a unique and educational experience.

I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to take their ice fishing skills to the next level.

When embarking on an ice fishing adventure, it’s crucial to come prepared. The cold temperatures on the ice demand warm layers, so don’t forget to bundle up.

Also, note that anglers over the age of 14 are required to have a fishing permit, so be sure to have that sorted beforehand.

I also suggest bringing a thermos filled with a hot drink for your fishing trip near Helena.

It helps maintain warmth and comfort while waiting for a bite, adding an extra touch of coziness to the experience.

Montana Events in February

A snow-covered slope in Montana.

February in Montana offers more than just snow-covered landscapes and winter activities; it’s a month packed with exhilarating events that promise unforgettable memories and heart-racing experiences.

From adrenaline-pumping winter sports competitions to heartwarming community festivals, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 

Whitefish Winter Carnival

A group of women dressed as Santa Claus spread cheer in Montana during the chilly month of February.

The Whitefish Winter Carnival, held annually in the town of Whitefish, Montana, is a captivating celebration that unites the community in embracing the winter season.

This joyous event welcomes both locals and visitors to partake in vibrant festivities that showcase the town’s picturesque charm and create a lively atmosphere.

Just this past February 3–5, 2023, the Whitefish Winter Carnival unfolded with energy and merriment.

The schedule was filled to the brim with an array of delightful activities and exciting events, ensuring that there was something for everyone to revel in.

Activities such as the Grand Parade, ski races, the Penguin Plunge, and live music and galas, create a diverse and entertaining experience for attendees.

Marking the beginning of February, the Whitefish Winter Carnival has become a welcomed tradition in the calendar of both locals and travelers.

It not only showcases the beauty of the town but also pays homage to the community’s heroes, such as search and rescue teams and firefighters.

This, in turn, fosters a spirit of unity and gratitude that permeates every facet of the carnival.

The next event is already scheduled for February 2–4, 2024. You can find more details by visiting the official website of the Whitefish Winter Carnival.

Race to the Sky Sled Dog Race

A group of people with sled dogs in the snowy wilderness of Montana in February.

The Race to the Sky sled dog race stands as Montana’s premier winter sporting event, renowned for its challenging nature as a winter activity.

This race has garnered widespread admiration from both locals and visitors for its captivating allure and engaging experiences.

First organized in 1986 as Montana’s Governor’s Cup Sled dog race, the Race to the Sky has a rich history that adds to its allure.

Each year, the Race to the Sky takes place in various locations across Montana, including Lincoln, Seeley Lake, and Ovando, making it a truly remarkable experience for participants and spectators alike.

Apart from its local significance, the Race to the Sky also serves as a qualifier for the renowned Iditarod race, solidifying its reputation as a top-tier event.

It features various race distances and categories like the 300-mile, 100-mile, and Junior 100-mile dogsled race.

The Race to the Sky draws hundreds of people each year, including mushers, volunteers, and enthusiastic spectators, creating a lively and festive atmosphere.

This race is not just a test of physical strength and mental toughness, but also a reflection of the exceptional bond between mushers and their intrepid canine companions.

In 2023, the Race to the Sky Sled Dog Race took place from February 10th to February 14th, captivating all those who were fortunate enough to witness it.

The scheduled date for the Race to the Sky Sled dog race in 2024 will be February 9-13 2024.

Don’t miss your chance to experience the exhilaration and beauty of this incredible event. For more information, you can visit Race to the Sky‘s official site.

Winter Brewfest in Missoula

A crowd of people standing in a room in Montana.

The Winter BrewFest in Missoula, situated in downtown’s heart at Caras Park, is a celebrated event featuring a vibrant mix of craft beers, live music, food vendors, and interactive games.

Held last February 25, 2023, this fest invites attendees to indulge in sensory delights from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Saturday afternoon.

The BrewFest had something for everyone, boasting an array of over 40 brew offerings.

From locally crafted microbrews to a tempting wine bar, the beverage options were proof of Missoula’s thriving craft beer scene.

The BrewFest offered more than libations; it was a hub of entertainment with live music resonating through the crisp winter air.

Various delicious snacks were available, thoughtfully paired to complement the diverse beer selections, offering a sensory experience for all participants.

The BrewFest featured interactive games, ranging from beer-centric challenges to lively competitions, offering attendees ample laughter and entertainment.

The Winter BrewFest in Missoula showcased craft beers, live music, delicious food, and interactive games, highlighting the event’s beauty and diversity.

Note that there are no scheduled dates for 2024 yet.

Montana in February Final Thoughts

A skier is skiing down a snowy slope in Montana.

Montana in February offers a myriad of incredible experiences, from the thrill of downhill skiing to the tranquility of cross-country trails.

Activities like ice fishing and relaxing in hot springs amid snowy landscapes add to the region’s allure as a winter wonderland.

Destinations like Whitefish Mountain Resort and Yellowstone National Park offer some of the best opportunities to immerse oneself in the winter magic of February.

The majesty of the mountains and the vast expanses of pristine snow create a truly breathtaking backdrop for adventure.

The state also comes alive with a variety of events and festivals. The Whitefish Winter Carnival, with its whimsical parade and ski races, live music, and galas.

The Race to the Sky sled dog race is an event that shows the exceptional bond between mushers and their dog partners.

And for those who appreciate a good brew, the Winter BrewFest in Missoula offers a chance to sample delicious craft beers in a lively atmosphere.

Of course, it’s important to note that February in Montana can be marked by cold temperatures, substantial snowfall, and mostly cloudy conditions.

But with adequate preparation and planning, your February vacation in Big Sky Country has the potential to become an unforgettable experience.

Montana in February FAQs

1. How Was the Weather Last February 2023?

In 2023, February had near-normal temperatures and precipitation across most of the region, but it was colder and wetter than normal along the foothills.

Billings had a 28.5 average temperature with a total precipitation of 0.68 inches, Sheridan observed its 10th wettest February on record.

2. What Do I Wear in Montana During February?

Dressing in layers is crucial for staying warm and comfortable in Montana’s cold weather.

To shield against the frigid temperature, it’s advised to wear a warm hat, gloves, and a scarf or neck gaiter to protect the head, hands, and neck. Wool or synthetic socks are recommended for both warmth and moisture-wicking.

3. What Is the Cheapest Time to Go to Montana?

April to June and October to November offer budget-friendly opportunities in Montana, with affordable accommodations and activities. The cheapest months to fly to Montana in January, February, and October.

The cheapest time to visit varies based on individual preferences, travel plans, and specific locations within Montana.

4. What Is the Coldest Month in Montana?

Montana experiences some of the chilliest winter months in the United States, with winter starting in October through April.

The coldest month in Montana is January, with an average temperature ranging from 11°F for the Northeastern Division to 22°F for the South Central.

Enjoyed what you just read? Dive deeper into Montana with these recommended articles:

Photo of author

Written by:

Ashley Smith
Hello there! I'm Ashley Smith, born on a chilly winter's day, Montana has been my playground since childhood. The first snowfall of the year always brings back memories of building snowmen and winter hikes. Co-founding was my way of sharing the magic of Montana's seasons with the world. While Chris dives deep into the landscapes, I'm obsessed with Montana's rich culture, from the local festivals to the tales passed down generations.

Leave a Comment