Off the Grid: Homestake Lodge
Monday Feb. 1st, 2016
I’ve driven over Homestake Pass on I-90 countless times and never realized there was a place tucked away only 3 miles off the interstate called Homestake Lodge, a summer and winter destination for weddings, reunions, and cross-country ski adventures. I recently sat down with Mandy Axelson who runs and owns the lodge with her husband Chris Axelson. As soon as I started talking to her I could see the passion she has for this place. As you drive down the road it’s easy to see why. It’s nestled in between trees and mountains right off the continental divide. The lodge sits so you can soak in the views from the deck or pavilion. Inside, it is warm and welcoming.
Mandy Axelson skied with MSU for 4 years and has extensive experience in cross country skiing. Chris owned a local sport shop called Threshold Sports and coached cross country before both of them decided to set roots down outside Butte to open a lodge. They bought land at the top of the pass in 2007 and began creating ski trails which have now flourished into over 37Km of groomed ski trails for skate, classic and even dog-friendly skiing. While talking to Mandy she described the uphill battles of running a lodge from the ground up. They both teach skiing, run the lodge retail area, maintain the trails, and to top it off make all the homemade soups, rolls, and cookies the lodge offers on the weekends, which I might add are amazing. All while raising three kids.
I asked her what their goal was for the lodge and why the Butte area. Mandy said they wanted to create a place everyone felt welcomed and a place everyone could afford; at $15 for a day pass, $20 for rentals and kids 6 and under free, it can’t be beat. They wanted people to come and relax, ski, have a reunion, wedding etc...and not have to go too far. It was the ideal place sitting right on the pass minutes from Butte and only an hour from Bozeman. Since opening in 2008, they have become the place to go cross country skiing in the winter and have events in the summer. And, sitting right next to the continental divide trail, there is great hiking and mountain biking. They have added cabins and a ski in yurt to their line up and they are available year round. Reservations are strongly recommended since they fill up quite fast. The whole lodge can be rented out as well which makes it even a sweeter deal if your having an event there. Guests don’t have to go to a hotel in the surrounding areas but can all stay in one place.
The lodge is completely off grid and relies on solar power for hot water and wood stoves for heat. It was a major goal for them since it was something new to both of them. In 2013, the lodge received Governor Bullock’s Eco-Star Award for environmental stewardship. This motivated them to install a grid tied solar power system all done by local businesses in 2014.
In the winter months, they run Junior Ski Programs, a Women’s Clinic, private lessons, elementary school days, as well as Wednesday night pot lucks with night skiing from 5:30 to 7pm. After sitting with Mandy for the better part of the day I walked away amazed I never came here earlier. It’s a beautiful place and peaceful. For more information please visit their website at: www.homestakelodge.com or call Chris 406-585-8052 or Mandy 406-581-6202. They would be happy to talk to you about scheduling an event or a lesson for you, your family, and friends.
Hallie is always in search for out the way obscure back country areas Montana has to offer. She teaches glacier skills, kids skiing and Mountaineering. Hallie has climbed the highest peaks in Ecuador, Washington and Montana. In her down time she is usually climbing or on my dual sport motorcycle, pretty much anything outside related.