Great Divide aims to expand summer offerings

Posted at 5:36 PM, Sep 01, 2023

HELENA — Great Divide Ski Area may look a little different from a couple of months ago, that's why in the off-season they're looking to use their mountain as a resort for mountain bikers in the summer months.

"Helena is a beautiful place to ride. I've got a fantastic trail system. Even before the trails were really developed, it just got the right kind of terrain for mountain biking," said Jim Barnes, Owner of Big Sky Cycling.

There's no question that Helena is one of the most prestigious areas for mountain biking and cycling.

Back in 2015, The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) recognized Helena as a silver-level ride center worldwide.

Barnes explained how the award opened up Helena to broader Montana and the U.S. cycling community.

"I think the award from the International Mountain Biking Association kind of made it more popular. A few more people found out about it, but it's always been here and it has improved over the years, just additions to the trail system," said Barnes.

Great Divide is hoping to tap into that community with a new trail system for mountain bikers.

"In Helena, we have such an incredible cycling community, such an incredible trail system. We didn't want to create something that competed with that, but we really came together and thought that we could come up with some trail ideas that would complement that system and offer a different type of riding," said Travis Crawford, one of the owners of Great Divide Ski Area.

Crawford shared his vision with MTN on what he would like to see on the mountain during the ski off-season.

His vision includes traditional downhill biking with chairlifts assisting riders to the top of the trails, a terrain park-styled trail with jump lines, as well as an area tailored to e-bikes. So it can be a place for everyone who wants to be involved in mountain biking, from beginners to experienced single-track shredders.

However, Crawford emphasizes that in order for his vision to become a reality, it's going to take time and the right team.

"Right now we're in a hiring phase. What we're trying to do is find ideally some full-time, year-round staff that as we're getting into winter, they'll probably be our winter staff, maybe in train parks or lift operations. But that way next spring, we know who are bike park staff are going to be. So we can really hit the ground running," said Crawford.

Crawford mentioned that this is something he wanted to do for a long time, but is willing to wait so everything can be perfect for when it's in full effect.