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Take Amtrak From Midwest To Whitefish For A Great Ski Trip

Amtrak-Empire-Builder-Facebook-picture-2 Amtrak's Empire Builder. (Facebook) 

Heartland snowsports enthusiasts can climb aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder for an easy, scenic ride to Whitefish Mountain Resort. There are several places you can board the train. It leaves Chicago’s Union Station with stops in Milwaukee, the Twin Cities, and several other boarding locations across North Dakota and eastern Montana before arriving at Whitefish. When you book early, at least 7-14 days in advance, you can save 20-percent on your fare.

I’ve done this three times over the last 20 years, and it’s an easy overnight train ride from the Windy City. It’s a great way to see the northern tier of the Heartland and Glacial National Park as you pass through. You arrive refreshed and ready to hit the slopes. In addition to skiing, there is cross country skiing, snowshoe hikes, dog sledding, snowmobiling, and guided tours to nearby stunning Glacier NP.

Big Mountain lives up to its name with over a 2,300-foot vertical drop. Slopes fall off the mountain in all directions. The ample terrain offers easy green boulevards from top to bottom. There are plenty of blue cruisers and molar-grinding glades, chutes, and even a few 50-foot cliffs. It’s all highlighted by supersized scenery. The snowcapped peaks of Glacier fill the far horizon and sparkling snow ghosts—powder shellacked trees—dots the top of the mountain.

The resort offers ski and stay packages on the mountain beginning from $89 per person, per night midweek at the Hibernation House that includes a hot breakfast and hot tub access. A January White Sale through the end of the month; book two nights and get a third night free. Longer stays get 33-percent off lodging and lift tickets.

The friendly, funky town of Whitefish also offers lots of lodging choices as well as theater, classic neighborhood bars with live music, and a bevy of good restaurants to choose from. The annual Whitefish Winter Carnival highlighted by lots of family activities takes place Feb. 7-9.

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