Escape crowds this winter in snowy southwest Montana

We didn’t know it at the time, but our escape to Montana earlier this year was the last big trip we would take for months. Just days after landing back in Austin in late February, the coronavirus pandemic hit — and travel as we knew it came to an abrupt halt. Like most everyone else, we stayed home, feeding our wanderlust with socially-distanced adventures in own backyards. But if you find yourself contemplating a socially-distanced vacation as fall fades into winter, the snowy corner of southwest Montana offers endless outdoor adventures without the crowds. Whether you’re shredding powder at the local’s secret ski area, relaxing at a remote spa resort or making silent tracks through the snow without another soul in sight at Yellowstone National Park, here are five Montana experiences where social distancing and magical moments come easy.

Unwind at secluded Sage Lodge

During the winter months, Ski, Soak, Sage becomes mantra at Sage Lodge, nestled on the banks of the Yellowstone River and just five minutes down the road from historic Chico Hot Springs. This luxury lodge and spa tucked in the heart of Montana’s Paradise Valley is a destination resort for adventurers of all types, but it’s also a dream-worthy escape for those who want to just relax, unwind and soak in the surrounding snowy silence. With delicious locally-inspired meals like bison Bolognese and braised lamb shank served just steps from your rustically romantic guestroom featuring a crackling fireplace and snowy mountain views, and a full-service spa ready to rejuvenate and relax you upon request, the seemingly endless stresses of 2020 disappear into the distance. Whether you spend your day skiing, soaking in hot springs or making tracks through the snow at Yellowstone National Park, serene Sage Lodge is the perfect place to pamper and restore you upon return. More at

By Mauri Elbel, Special to the American-Statesman

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Eric Richards