Off-Season Awesome in Big Sky, Montana
Experience epic outdoor adventures.
Skiers and snowboarders have long revered the jagged peaks and powder of Big Sky, Montana, which lies between Bozeman and the northwestern corner of Yellowstone National Park. As the snow melts and weather warms, the swarms thin, but the winter resort town hardly calls it quits. During the summer season, Big Sky springs to life, much to the surprise of travelers.
The town's stunning setting, flanked by a backdrop of trail-lined mountains, means a seemingly endless array of outdoor activities await travelers. From ziplining and fishing to hiking and horseback riding, bring your love for outdoor adventure to this magnificent corner of the West. Here's the lowdown on how to make the most of your trip.
Where to Stay
Accommodation in Big Sky varies from home and condo rentals to mountain lodges, as well as the sprawling Big Sky Resort, which now encompasses multiple properties, including Moonlight Basin and Spanish Peaks. Though you can't really go wrong when choosing a location for your lodging, opt to stay as close to the center of Big Sky as possible, so you'll have access to its restaurants, shops and small-town charms.
What to Do
Hiking: With the sun shining on impossibly steep Big Sky Mountain, and the region's other peaks looming in the distance, the itch to explore Big Sky's trails is impossible to resist. Pack your water bottles and bear bells and spray (yes, you really might need to use them in this neck of the woods), and trek the region's best trails, including Beehive Basin, Ousel Falls and Storm Castle. One of the perks of late summer in Big Sky is that because of its elevation and cooler temperatures, even in August, it's possible to see fields awash in the reds, yellows, purples, and blues of the region's wildflowers.
Experience the Gallatin: Remember the swirling eddies, sparkling waters, and epic fly fishing on display in the classic film, A River Runs Through It? Well, that paradise was no Hollywood fantasy. In fact, the movie was filmed along the Gallatin River, which twists and turns through Big Sky, including parts of the Canyon and Meadow, as the lower regions of town are called. Fly fishermen from around the globe head to the Gallatin with high hopes of hooking an epic catch in the extraordinary locale. Outfitters throughout the town offer excursions to the Gallatin for fly fishing as well as guided rafting tours.
Visit Big Sky Resort: Big Sky Resort is a must-visit -- it's the area's activity mecca. Hop aboard a tram tour to visit the top of 11,166-foot Lone Peak -- it's a stunner. On a clear day, it's possible to gaze across two National Parks, three states and many mountain ranges. The resort's Basecamp organizes activities such as zipline courses, a bungee trampoline, archery, disc golf, a climbing wall and even paintball. Bikers should bring their wheels; Big Sky also boasts 40 miles of chairlift-accessible mountain and cross-country trails.
Explore Yellowstone National Park: Big Sky is approximately an hour's drive from the western edge of Yellowstone, and taking a trip to America's first National Park is an absolute must for visitors. After entering the park, drive the popular Grand Loop Road to see the park's major sights, such as Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Lake Village. Though the distance to the park isn't long, the park itself is vast, so start your day early and allow yourself plenty of time to explore.