Ski Trip in Big Sky, Montana

As you may know from my posts about Vail and Breckenridge, Alex and I love to ski. We’ve also been to Winter Park together, but I haven’t blogged about that (at least not yet!). It is so hard to pick a favorite location because each ski area is so different, but I would have to say that Big Sky is up there with the best of them. The main advantages I found in Big Sky over anywhere I’ve been in Colorado were: shorter lift lines, fewer people on the mountains, and wider runs. We were very fortunate with the weather, having fresh snowfall nearly every day with mild temperatures in the mid-20s.

Beautiful views up on the mountain
Beautiful views up on the mountain
Wide open runs with sweeping vistas

 

It is easy to get to Big Sky by flying to the Bozeman airport (very small and easy to navigate). Once you get there, you can either rent a car, or take a shuttle to Big Sky. We took a van through Karst Stage, which is located just past the baggage claim area.

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View from the Bozeman Airport
View from the Bozeman Airport
Flying out of Bozeman
Flying out of Bozeman

Our experience in Big Sky was definitely made even more wonderful by our stay at the Summit at Big Sky Resort. The staff was beyond friendly and courteous, always insisting on opening doors and offering us help with anything we needed. If you are a guest at the resort, there are ski valets and a warming room to keep your soft boots while you’re out on the slopes. As for the resort’s restaurants, all of the ones we visited had great food and were reasonable. Both breakfast buffets (at The Summit and Huntley Lodge) were some of the best buffets I have ever had, offering everything you can think of for breakfast from bagels and lox to granola and yogurt to made-to-order omelets, to build-your-own Belgian waffles.

Big Sky Resort
Big Sky Resort

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Day 1- Ready to head out on the slopes
Day 1- Ready to head out on the slopes
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After having dinner at Whiskey Jack’s (see below)

The other amenities impressed as well. The pool facilities are nice and large and the shower and locker facilities are very clean and well-maintained. I did not have a chance to visit the spa myself, but some of our family members had services that they enjoyed. The only amenity that I found to be lacking was the gym. It was a bit small for the size of the resort, but if you’re anything like me, when you’re on a ski vacation and spend 8 hours on the slopes, you aren’t going to the gym anyway.

The skiing in Big Sky was second to none. I’ll upload a video soon that highlights some of our favorite runs as soon as I can. Big Sky is currently the largest of any ski area in the country since it acquired the Moonlight Basin Area. 40% of the runs are greens and blues and the rest are blacks and black diamonds. I did find that Big Sky seemed a little more inconsistent with the ratings than other places I have skied (for example, some blues seemed hard enough to be blacks while others seemed like they could be greens). Part of that may have been how early in the season we skied as well as the grooming, but I would be interested to hear if anyone else feels differently. Alex and I found that even though it was a bit of a journey to get over to the Moonlight area, it was the best skiing and least-crowded mountain. There were times when we were the only people for an entire 20-25 minute run. Perfect, if you ask me!

Ski Valet as you walk to the lifts from the Summit at Big Sky Resort
Ski Valet as you walk to the lifts from the Summit at Big Sky Resort

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Alex and his brother Max on the ski lift
Alex and his brother Max on the ski lift

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Alex and I in the Moonlight Basin Area
Alex and I in the Moonlight Basin Area
Elk Horn was an awesome black!
Elk Horn was an awesome black!

If you’re looking for things to do on a day off from skiing, there is ample opportunity for shopping and other activities. The Big Sky Town Center has several galleries and markets, as well as a full service grocery store, Roxy’s Market and Deli, which has plenty of natural and organic options. There are also several boutiques and a couple of consignment shops in the area.

Another activity: Learn about the avalanche dogs and watch a demonstration. So much fun!
Another activity: Learn about the avalanche dogs and watch a demonstration. So much fun!

Another fantastic activity on a day off from skiing is to take a day trip to Yellowstone National Park. We booked an awesome tour through Yellowstone Alpen Guides. We had a wonderful day despite getting switched to the Old Faithful tour and having to take a van at the last minute due to a National Park Service ruling on the “lack of snow” (which was a joke considering the amount of snowfall we experienced!). Being switched to Old Faithful ended up being a blessing in disguise as we all thoroughly enjoyed seeing the geysers, paint pots, and plenty of wildlife. I also enjoyed it because I got to revisit my former place of employment (Fun Fact: I spent a summer working in Yellowstone at the Old Faithful Inn!). The tour began at the West Yellowstone entrance, drove by Hanes Mountain, stopped in Madison at a warming hut, and visited several geyser areas and thermal features, including Old Faithful. After eating our packed lunch at Old Faithful, we headed back out of the park, stopping along the way when we saw wildlife. I highly recommend Yellowstone Alpen Guides, specifically our guide Chris. He was knowledgeable, humorous, and entertaining. We had an unforgettable day and saw some incredible natural wonders.

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Large elk in Yellowstone
Elk herd
Elk herd
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Hanes Mountain
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Bison
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Coyote in Yellowstone

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Waiting for Old Faithful to erupt!
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Old Faithful eruption

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Old Faithful Inn (closed in winter)
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Old Faithful Visitor Education Center: Great little museum, gift shop, and eruption viewing area. You could easily spend an hour or two here!
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Bobby socks trees. Famed among photographers, the trees have white bottoms from soaking up the mineral-rich water of the thermal area.

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Fountain Paint Pot area
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Otherworldly

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I thought it was interesting how the snow melted off of some trees, but created icicles on other trees that were close to the steam from the geysers.
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We all had an unforgettable day in Yellowstone! Thanks to Yellowstone Alpen Guides!

You’ll be hungry after all of the fun activities in Big Sky. A great place to apres ski with craft beer and good food is Lone Peak Brewery. If you call ahead, the owner will gladly arrange a tour of the brewery. If you read Candie Travels, you know that Alex and I frequently tour breweries on our trips. At times they can be pretty repetitive, but Steve the brewmaster has a very unique story and is incredibly knowledgeable about the brewing process. I highly recommend asking for a tour if you are there. I learned a lot! What to eat: Beer Cheese Soup, Bison Flank Quesadillas.

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Another great restaurant is the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill. Just a short drive away from Big Sky Resort, the restaurant offers delicious BBQ and grilled items. We took dinner back to the resort, but the restaurant appears to have a saloon theme and would definitely be a fun place for dinner and drinks. What to eat: Pulled Pork.

If you are staying at Big Sky Resort, I recommend eating at Whiskey Jack’s. It is a casual restaurant with southwestern cuisine and was one of our favorite meals of the trip. The restaurant has a fun, lively atmosphere and offers a great selection of beer. Check to see what nights it features live music when you are there. What to eat: Chili Verde Soup, Huevos Rancheros Burger, Churros and Chocolate dessert (just like in Spain!)

Churros y chocolate
Churros y chocolate

A fun alternative to restaurant or resort dining is a sleigh ride (pending snowfall) and appetizers at 320 Ranch. The evening includes a complimentary shuttle from the resort to the ranch, rancher stories on the ride, a bonfire, wild game chili, cheese and crackers, popcorn, and hot cocktails (hot chocolate, hot cider, etc). While I wouldn’t say the tour itself was particularly informative or interesting, it was fun to take a horse-drawn carriage and the meal was delicious and filling!

Horse drawn carriage
Horse drawn carriage
Chili and popcorn setup
Chili and popcorn setup
Warming tent and bonfire
Warming tent and bonfire

The perfect place to stop for dessert after dinner is Fondue Stube at Big Sky Resort. Chocolate fondue is always delicious, but the highlights of this one were the homemade marshmallows and cookie dough dippers. Delicious!

Fondue accoutrements
Fondue accoutrements

Have you ever been to Big Sky for a winter vacation? I would love to hear about your experience!

RECAP
Stay:
Summit at Big Sky, 50 Big Sky Resort Road, Big Sky, MT 59716

Eat/Drink:
Lone Peak Brewery, 48 Market Place, Big Sky, MT 59716
Fondue Stube, 50 Big Sky Resort Road, Big Sky, MT 59716
Whiskey Jack’s, 1 Lone Mountain Trail, Big Sky, MT 59716
Gallatin Riverhouse Grill, 45130 Gallatin Road, Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730
Roxy’s Market and Deli, 20 Huntley Drive, Big Sky MT 59716

Visit:
Yellowstone Alpen Guides, 555 Yellowstone Avenue, West Yellowstone, MT 59758

 

 

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5 comments

  1. […] Yellowstone/Grand Teton: I lumped the two of these together because if you enter Yellowstone National Park from Wyoming, they aren’t too far apart and you can see both parks in a single vacation. Yellowstone holds a very special place in my heart because I lived and worked there for a summer, but even if I hadn’t, how can you not love America’s (and the world’s!) first national park? It’s quite possibly the most American place you can go. Between the extensive wildlife sightings, the geysers, and mudpots, the lush forests, beautiful lakes, and vibrant valleys, you can visit Yellowstone again and again at any time of year. (Read about our wintertime visit here.) […]

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