Ski Guide: Big Sky, Montana
Located about 50 miles northwest of Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky, Montana offers majestic views and magnificent runs. The resort is home to 3 skiable peaks. Thrill-seeking skiers can take a 15-passenger Lone Peak Tram to reach expert terrain on Lone Mountain’s apex. Andesite Mountain is an intermediate skiers’ playground and is home to Big Sky’s super pipe and terrain park. The third peak, Flat Iron Mountain, is located on the eastern shoulder of Andesite and offers the best variety of expert, intermediate and beginner trails.
Only at Big Sky
Big Sky, the brainchild of NBC newscaster Chet Huntley, welcomed its first skiers in 1973. Three years later, Boyne USA Resorts purchased the resort. In 2005, Montana’s Big Sky joined forces with the Moonlight Basin Resort (located on Lone Mountain, the resort’s signature peak, which rises to 11,166 ft.) to offer the appropriately named Biggest Skiing in America pass, giving skiers and snowboarders access to 5,512 skiable acres with 25 lifts and over 220 runs.
Big Sky is a scenic, uncluttered, and laid-back resort. Its 3,812 acres contain 150 named runs that cover over 85 miles. The longest run, Liberty Bowl to Mountain Mall, spans 6 miles. However, what delights skiers most is not necessarily the long runs – it’s Big Sky’s dedication to keeping lift lines short.
Where to Sleep
When staying near Big Sky, you’ll have your choice of picturesque log cabins, remote ranches, slope-side condos, rental homes and 4-star resorts. The Huntley Lodge, located in Big Sky’s Mountain Village, was part of Chet Huntley’s original vision for the mountain. Included in the complex are Chet’s Bar & Grill, the Firehole Lounge, shops, ski storage and the relaxing Solace Spa. Winter rates start at $168 per night. The Moonlight Lodge and Spa boasts wild panoramas. Its ski-in/ski-out chalets, cabins and custom homes can be a bit pricey, but the discerning customer can find winter packages that start at $179 per night (based on quad occupancy.)
Where to Eat
With over 20 restaurants, cafes, lounges and snack shacks in Big Sky, you won’t go hungry. Ski in from Andesite’s Silverknife run for beer and burgers at Scissorbill’s Saloon. If you need as many choices on the menu as you do on the trail map, head to Chopper’s Grub and Pub for over 100 beer and wine selections, steaks, burgers, pasta, video trivia and a game room. Meadow Village’s Blue Moon Bakery is a local favorite for fresh baked breads and pastries, pizza, sandwiches, soups and salads.
Where to Shop
Big Sky isn’t home to haute couture, but there are still plenty of shops selling gear and made-in-Montana crafts. Mountain Village Center, Snowcrest Lodge, Huntley and Shoshone offer spas, boutiques and rentals, but Mountain Mall and Plaza has the biggest assortment of stores. There you’ll find groceries, rentals, clothing, and jewelry.
For the Non-skier
You can cross-country ski on the nationally ranked trails at nearby Lone Mountain Ranch. There are also trails in neighboring Yellowstone National Park. Other outdoor winter activities include horseback riding, sleigh rides, zip-lining and snowmobiling. Visit Montana in the summer for fly-fishing in Big Sky’s Gallatin River. Located on the mountain, East Slope Outdoors/Orvis Shops offer casting clinics throughout the summer. Warm weather also welcomes mountain bikers, golfers, hikers, rock climbers and white-water rafters. Visitors can also take scenic lift rides.
Biggest Bang for Your Buck
If you’re close enough to travel to Big Sky for a long weekend, you could save up to 40% on slope-side accommodations in Shoshone, Beaverhead and Big Horn. All offer winter deals for short 3-night stays in Big Sky. Score some discount airfare with help from Big Sky Central Reservations, 1 (800) 548-4486.
Travel Channel Tip
Visit Big Sky in February, and experience the Big Sky Big Grass Festival, a celebration of American music featuring bluegrass, jam-grass and Americana bands.