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Blacktail Mountain could expand to summer operations

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Apr 24 2014 07:05:16 PM MDT
Updated On: Apr 24 2014 07:45:26 PM MDT
KALISPELL, Mont. -

The ski season is over at Blacktail Mountain and while new snow is still falling, staffers are already thinking about summer.

Normally the mountain is empty and quiet during the warm months, but that could change.

"The U.S. Forest Service has always encouraged ski areas to maximize the utilization of their ski area.  Of course we're there in the winter time and they would like us to be encouraged to have summer operations," General Manager Steve Spencer said.

With 1,000 acres of land at Blacktail Mountain, Spencer says there's plenty of room to upgrade or expand operations.

Before any new attractions would be added, Spencer says a few things would need to happen. Most importantly, paving Blacktail Mountain Road.

The Forest Service is looking into a grant to help pave that road to make it more accessible for people.

"That would be a game changer.  Right now it's a gravel road for 12 miles and it can be dusty. If that were paved it would be a different situation for us.  We would certainly look really hard at what to do," said Spencer.

For now, all Blacktail does is small gatherings and events during the summer.

Additions like a zip line or alpine slide are potential ideas. But, Spencer said, things like amusement rides would not be considered.

In 2012, plans to add ATV trails on the mountain were considered. Those were later axed after concerns from nearby residents.

Spencer says if the right opportunity presented itself, the mountain would be ready.

"We've always had approval for summer operations, but whatever we do up there it has to be profitable.  We can't just do it for fun," Spencer said.