1. View the old Steam Engine.
4. Visit one of the City’s Parks and Playgrounds. Great fun for the Kids.
6. Visit the Library.
7. See wildflowers blooming.
9. Watch trains pass through town.
14. Watch the sun set from the top of the hill behind the Holiday Village Mall.
16. Visit with a Havre “local”.
20. Try your skills at the Skate Board Park.
Well, the list kept going to 31, but I figured you get the idea.
We did none of those things. Instead we went skiing at Bear Paw.
In a state full of primitive, back-to-basics ski areas, Bear Paw is the most primitive, back-to-basics of them all. It’s also the smallest, most isolated, and least snowy of Montana’s ski areas. A half-hour south of town on a road that sees just intermittent plowing, one pieced-together double chair rises 900 vertical feet to one of the few mountains able to hold snow due to the persistent winds blowing off the prairie. There are about 20 trails in all.
Bear Paw Ski Bowl has no running water, no lodge, no rentals, and no restaurant. Tickets are $20, cash only. Pit toilets. A small building with picnic tables, heated by a wood stove, offers shelter from the wind and cold (and this place is cold). An outdoor grill fires up near noon and sells simple burgers. Tommy the dog runs from the lift to the parking lot to the building, yipping.
Bear Paw did not open last year but has had decent snow this year. Still, we were not sure we’d get to ski here. The web site is not really functional, and the Facebook page, while interesting, is mostly cryptic (but does have pictures of teens skiing in bikinis). The mountain has no phone, hence no information line. I called a motel in Havre, who directed me to the aforementioned chamber, who told me to call the ski shop, who gave me the phone number of the ski area manager, whom I called and did indeed say Bear Paw would be open for at least one more weekend.
I think the pictures speak for themselves. As someone on telemarktips.com said, this area exists “like a fly in amber”.