Winter RV Life in Southwestern Montana – Focus on Anaconda and Skiing at Discovery…

Why visit this region? Where to stay? What to do? (SKI!!!)

Greetings from Anaconda! Who? Where? As recently as several months ago, I’d never heard of Anaconda and certainly had no reason to visit yet alone live here (if only for a “while.”)

Skiing and much more near Anaconda, Montana – A winter wonderland region!

Now that I’ve arrived, I may just stay for a bit. Why? Read on…

Let’s start with WINTER… (I plan to discuss Summer in an upcoming post)

If you’re a regular reader of my website (, you know I tend to winter in the Intermountain West and teach most winters as a Ski Instructor.

A view of a small percentage of Discovery Ski Area. Looking at Anaconda lift and the “front side” with a vertical rise of about 1300 ft. Photo taken from Northern Lights, a black diamond trail off the Jubilee Lift.

Since I first “hit the road” as a full time traveler in my 5th wheel, I have been searching for a great ski mountain. One at which I can ski and teach. One of the greatest challenges has been finding ski school that I like and respect. At Discovery, I believe I have finally found one! And, Discovery as a ski area is no slouch either!

Discovery Ski Area is a family owned ski area. The owners love skiing and are actively involved in running the ski area. Discovery is quite accessible from Anaconda, Butte and Philipsburg – the nearest towns. The drive from Anaconda and Copper Court RV Park is about 30 minutes. The road to Discovery is well maintained and EXCEEDINGLY scenic! In fact, the mountains here are honestly (in my humble view) as spectacular as the Colorado Rockies. Please visit my previous post for a map of the mountains (and more) that encompass this region.

Georgetown Lake (popular for ice fishing in the winter) and the Pintler Mountains to the South. Photo taken from near the top of Claim Jumper off the Anaconda lift at Disco.

If you choose to visit in the winter with your RV camper, my previous post also details how to prepare your RV camper for the (typically) long, cold winters here.

The Northern Rockies

Western Montana is quite mountainous. Collectively, these mountains are referred to as the Northern Rockies. Discovery is in the heart of the Northern Rockies. The ski area is located in a region that typically gets more than adequate snow. The snow that falls here is often dry and fluffy – not wet like some of the ski areas farther to the west and northwest.

Gentle trails from the top of Jubilee Lift

Discovery Ski Area: Big Skiing in a small town environment (and UNcrowded)

When it comes to size, “Disco” as the locals call it has some strong stats. Total acreage is 2200 and the vertical drop is a respectable 2400 feet. Discovery has a wide variety of terrain ranging from gentle (protected*) green runs to some of the most challenging double black runs you’ll find anywhere. You can gain a sense of Disco by reviewing its trail maps – but to truly appreciate it, you gotta come here!

Uncrowded Trails at Disco!

*Protected means there’s learning areas where beginners can, well, be beginners and NOT worry about being slammed into by an advanced skier coming down from above!

Reasonably priced skiing

Discovery is also moderately priced – both lifts and lessons are reasonable. Prices are more like what we saw at the “big boys” (Steamboat, Jackson Hole…) a quarter of a century ago! If you want a private lesson, they’re priced hourly and if you contact the ski school, you can request your instructor. Personally, I’m happy to work with anyone ages 8 and up with any ability level. If you wish, contact me to discuss your needs and I’ll help you book the lesson with Discovery Ski Area.

Picturesque Views

UNcrowded ski slopes

It’s simple – Discovery does not get anywhere near the number of skier visits that the major destination resorts experience. Lift lines? Rare. Uncrowded slopes are quite common and “powder stashes” can be found DAYS after the most recent storm. And… I tend to find a more courteous skier than I’ve seen elsewhere.

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Even more picturesque!

Montana is like Texas in some ways…

When I RV camped in Texas during the winter of ’20-’21, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING revolved around Texas! Montana is kind of like that – at least in the skiing world, and perhaps elsewhere as well. In other words, it seems that if you live in Montana, you tend to stay in Montana to ski, shop, recreate, etc…

When it comes to skiing, within a couple of hours drive of Anaconda, there are several other ski areas including Lost Trail, Great Divide, Maverick, Missoula Snowbowl, Lookout and more. All are within Montana’s borders, all priced much closer to what I paid to ski at Stowe or Jay Peak in 1980 than what you’ll pay at Aspen, Vail or ANY “major destination resort” today! And… again without the crowds.

Each of these ski areas, including Disco has its own character. Trails exist that still make you feel like you’re “communing with nature”, and not traveling the “Belt Parkway” in New York City! As a side note, Hunter Mtn. in NY State even has a trail named the Belt Parkway! And yes, its a sea of humanity most days.

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Anaconda has what you need

Anaconda with a population of just under 10,000 residents has what you need without crowding of larger cities. I will detail Anaconda and its very significant history in an upcoming post, but for now, know that Anaconda is complete with several reasonably priced lodges to stay in or a couple of campgrounds open all winter.

The town also has several good restaurants with high quality homemade food. The town is also home to two real grocery stores, including an Albertsons. A couple of my favorite restaurants include The Hangout, Donivans, Firefly Cafe, and O’Bella (Italian.)

Philipsburg is slightly closer to Disco, but as a small community, it lacks some of the services and businesses that Anaconda offers.

Lodging and RV’ing Opportunities in the Region

As noted at the outset, I’m limiting my discussing to the winter season in this post. I will therefore address both winter RV sites you can use “full hookups” at along with motel opportunities.

RV Parks – in the winter, these two parks provide full hookups and remain open all winter

Copper Court RV Park – Located at the east end of Anaconda. Spacious, well run (the snow is always plowed, the water runs in the winter, the electric works as it should…) and affordable. Check for winter specials or call Amanda to get a rate for when you wish to stay. Sites in winter are almost ALWAYS available – either short term or long term.

Big Sky RV Park – Also in Anaconda. Big Sky is an older, small park (20 sites). Large rigs may have trouble navigating it. I passed by it today, about 15 sites are occupied with monthly stays; about 5 sites were open. They do have short term rates.

The Inn at Philipsburg & RV Park – The Inn is in Philipsburg, a charming town of about 900 residents. Philipsburg is about 30 miles from Anaconda, and 20 from Discovery. This small, isolated town is an interesting and historic community, but has limited services (typical of a town of less than 1000 residents.)

Visitors will find a VERY quaint community with several restaurants, but due to its small population, you will likely want to head to Anaconda (or Missoula, about 70 miles away) for groceries, medical care, auto repair, etc.

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Motels & Inns

Hickory House Inn – a Historic Bed & Breakfast – charming, highly rated, located in the center of Anaconda

The Forge Hotel – highly rated hotel on the east side of Anaconda (near the Copper Court RV Park)

Trade Wind Motel – well reviewed, basic motel on east side of Anaconda

Fairmont Montana Hot Springs – great pools and recreation center, rooms are (from what I hear) expensive and “just ok” – about 10 miles east of Anaconda

Additional Winter Activities

Cross Country Skiing at Echo Lake, snowmobiling (all over the place!), ice fishing at Georgetown Lake, Silver Lake, and other higher mountain lakes. There’s a lot to do here.

A quick note about the winter of ’23-24…

This has been a VERY different winter from the prior winter, or ANY winter! Last winter, it got cold, stayed cold and snowed – and kept snowing. This occurred EVERYWHERE in the western states. This winter, not so much! We have had very little snow and as I write this in the first hours of February, I STILL hope to see a turn-around to save the ski season.

Wide open Gold Bug – a green trail at Disco – again – not real crowded!

Temperatures have been unusually variable. Part of January was extremely warm before near record breaking cold hit for several days. In my prior post, I detailed temperatures approaching -40F. As I write this, we turned warm (HOT) again, with high’s last week in the 40’s and this week well into the 50’s on the ski slopes. In Anaconda, It reached 60 yesterday and I have now completed 4 bicycle rides to close out January – comfortably wearing shorts!

To date, I’ve only seen a small percentage of Disco as conditions have not enabled the ski area to open the majority of the mountain. I’m still looking forward towards getting the “full picture.” I will share more as additional terrain opens.

Back to reality… It is still the middle of winter, and as noted, a turn-around is still possible and very much hoped for! More soon as I want to share with you the history of this region (Anaconda-Butte), along with Spring and Summer recreation opportunities.

UPDATE: Feb 3 2024…

Last night it SNOWED at Disco!! The webcam revealed 8 inches fresh – with more coming!! A season turnaround? Hopefully! One thing I’m CONFIDENT of is that Disco’s snow groomers are hard at work RIGHT NOW packing the fresh snow (and they do a great job) to ensure excellent skiing on the terrain they open today. (More later.)

Update Feb 5:

Storm total over 12″ (on the mountain), only a couple of inches in town (nice!) Skiing is MUCH better. Disco did a great job grooming AND opening new terrain and reached 50% open today. I taught 2 lessons today, had fun and stayed active (not bad for 65 yrs. old, eh?)

More snow is in the forecast, so, the season may just have been saved!! I got some footage skiing on the slopes and driving to/from the ski hill – I may process that this week and share that in my NEXT post!

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