Perpetual blue skies. Millions of snowflakes fluttering to the beat of your heart. It's the details that move the mind and stir the soul. Details like 400 inches of annual snowfall or 3 mountains with lots of elbow room. Lift lines are basically non-existent here. The skiing and riding is the ultimate experience. Explore the backcountry on snowshoes or take a relaxing sleigh ride. Big Sky has 3,812 acres of lift accessed skiing and plenty of off-piste options. If long runs are your taste, Big Sky has one run that is 6 miles long dropping almost all of the resorts 4,250 vertical feet. Getting to Big Sky is easy from Bozeman's airport which is an hour away. With plenty of on-site lodging options ranging from hotel rooms, condos, to luxury homes, Big Sky has all your needs met in one place.
They don’t call it Big Sky country for nothing, it’s all larger here. The big blue sky, the endless skiing, deep snow, and vistas that rival those of European villages. When you turn off the road from the Gallatin Valley you enter Montana’s skiing mecca. There are three ski areas within sight of one another, and plenty of lodging and restaurants for every taste bud. The Big Sky Resort is one of America’s best keep secrets for the ultimate ski vacation.
When I stepped off the Lone Peak Tram my first thought was if you weren’t a serious skier you might be saying, “Can I please get a ride down?” But I personally had to contain myself from shouting in excitement at the vertical feet that awaited me. Then there’s the view from the top. It’s worth the time it takes to travel to Big Sky. The snow quality, ski patrol, and avalanche control are top quality with any resort around, which is necessary for a mountain of this caliber.
But one of the main draws about Big Sky is the variety of terrain, which for the ski snob that I am, is impressive. There is enough steep and challenging terrain to keep me smiling, but at the same time, the families and kids below were having a blast on the various terrain parks and easier groomed runs near the lodge. At the end of the day, when the snow had softened, my inner child told me to head to the terrain park. After two runs I understood why the younger generations spend all their time around these jumps and rails, it makes you smile each time you conquer a feature.
As any traveler knows, eating at resorts can either be painfully expensive or painfully gross. Big Sky’s restaurants in the village are neither. Actually I wish I had been with a date at Peaks restaurant for lunch rather than my sweaty ski partner, because the atmosphere and food were incredible, not to mention I even had enough left over for gas money home. We had a similar experience the night before eating Italian at Andiamo, where I enjoyed prosciutto wrapped salmon with a white bean salad. Not your typical mountain fare.
The many gladed tree runs and long bump runs left my legs feeling a little like pudding and drove me to the hot tub in no time. After a few drinks it was shut eye time. I pulled the down comforter over my head, and the next thing I knew the sun and another bluebird day greeted me.
Sometimes the best part of a ski trip is the storytelling that happens afterwards. After skiing Big Sky with our guide Dax, I will have stories to tell until I return to Big Sky, which could be sooner than I think.
From the Bozeman/Big Sky airport: Exit Gallatin Field making a right turn onto Hwy. 10 (also Frontage Road). Drive 1.4 miles west through the small town of Belgrade. Turn left onto Hwy. 291 (also Jackrabbit Lane). This road passes over Interstate 90 and becomes Hwy. 85 and then Hwy. 191 (also Gallatin Road). Once over I-90, proceed south 7 miles, go straight through the four-way stop light on Hwy. 191. Continue south on Hwy. 191 for 34 miles.
From downtown Bozeman: Get on Main Street and continue west past the Gallatin Valley Mall. Main Street becomes Huffine Lane, just continue west approximated 8 miles to a stop light at the intersection of Hwy. 191 and Huffine Lane (Four Corners). Turn left (south) on Hwy. 191 for 39 miles.
Turn right (west) at MT Hwy. 64 (stoplight) and go west 9 miles to the Mountain Village, passing through the Meadow Village. Turn left at the "Welcome to Big Sky Mountain Village" sign, then right at the next small intersection. Follow the road up to the first tall seven-story complex, which is the reception for the Huntley Lodge, Shoshone Condominium Hotel, Big Sky Central Reservations and Yellowstone Conference Center. If you are a guest at Summit, Big Horn or Arrowhead, check in at the Summit, the second tall structure. The complex is .5 miles from the welcome sign.
From West Yellowstone: Head north out of West Yellowstone, MT on Hwy 287/191. Approximately 10 miles north of West Yellowstone, Hwy 287 turns to the west, but you will continue straight on Hwy 191. You will pass through a corner of Yellowstone Park along the 47 mile route. There are numerous trail heads and excellent wildlife watching along the way. You will be near the turn to Big Sky (Hwy 64) when you pass an elementary school on the left and an Exxon station and other commercial businesses on the right. At the stoplight turn west (left) on Hwy 64 then follow the same directions above to the Mountain Village.
The northwest border of Yellowstone Park is only 18 miles farther south of the Big Sky turnoff. The actual gateway to Yellowstone at the town of West Yellowstone, MT is 47 miles south of Big Sky. Drive safely and enjoy the scenery along the Gallatin River.