Big Sky Resort is a top-notch ski and snowboard destination in Montana that's known for its excellent slopes, small crowds, and proximity to Yellowstone National Park's west entrance. Boasting more skiable acres than any other ski resort in the United States and an array of shopping and dining options, the resort offers just what winter sports enthusiasts need to create a memorable vacation.
Nestled in scenic south central Montana, midway between the bustling college town of Bozeman and West Yellowstone, Big Sky Resort's convenient location is one of its greatest strengths. The resort is just 50 miles south of Bozeman (approximately an hour's drive), which is home to the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, the only major airport serving the region. Several well-known airlines provide service to the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, including Delta, Alaska, United, Frontier Airlines, and Allegiant Air.
Getting to Big Sky Resort from the airport via ground transportation is simple. Travelers can rent a car or arrange for a taxi, shuttle, bus, or limousine service to pick them up and deliver them to their destination. Winter sports enthusiasts who wish to travel unencumbered can even ship their ski or snowboard gear to the resort in advance for a modest fee.
Big Sky Resort touts its slopes as "The Biggest Skiing in America" and that's no exaggeration. After acquiring several smaller area resorts over the past decade, the Big Sky Resort is now one of the largest ski resorts in the United States, boasting 5,800 skiable acres and 300 named runs that span four mountains connected by chair lifts.
The resort's dedication to excellence has not gone unnoticed. OntheSnow's Visitors Choice Awards named Big Sky the Best Overall resort in 2009 and 2013, and recognized them as having the Best All-Mountain Terrain in 2014. Most recently, OntheSnow ranked Big Sky the Best Family Ski Resort for 2015.
While Big Sky Resort enjoys a solid reputation as a go-to destination for advanced and expert skiers, the resort also offers terrain for beginners and intermediates. Of the resort's 300 named runs:
- 15 percent are suitable for beginners
- 25 percent are designed for intermediates
- 42 percent is suitable for advanced skiers
- 18 percent are rated challenging enough for experts
Named after brutal dictators, the double-black, expert-level Lenin and Marx runs are some of the resort's scariest and most-challenging offerings:
At six miles long, Liberty Bowl Trail from the top of Lone Peak is the resort's longest run. The single black diamond expert-level run is the easier of the trails from Lone Peak Summit as compared to the double black diamond Lenin and Marx runs. However, the rugged and ungroomed Liberty Bowl Trail is by no means simple. TripAdvisor reviewers praised the challenging run for being "steep and deep," but one cautioned skiers to watch for large rocks.
The resort features:
- More than 400 inches of average annual snowfall
- 4,350-foot vertical drop
- 11,166-foot elevation at Lone Peak Summit
- 7,500-foot base elevation at Mountain Village
- 6,800-foot base elevation at Lone Moose and Six-Shooter Mountains
- Seven terrain parks
Resort guests can navigate Big Sky via a network of 34 lifts that carry approximately 38,300 skiers per hour. The lift system includes:
- One tram-style lift
- One high-speed six-person lift
- Five high-speed quads
- Three regular quads
- Seven triples
- Six doubles
- 11 surface lifts
One of the main advantages of visiting a spacious, uncrowded resort like Big Sky is an almost complete lack of lift lines. TripAdvisor reviewers praised the resort's fast lifts and zero wait time.
Other Winter Activities
Big Sky Resort offers much more than just skiing and snowboarding. Resort guests can also enjoy a number of additional winter activities, including:
- Zipline tours
- Snowshoe tours
- Dog sledding
- Nordic skiing
- Ice climbing
- Snowmobile tours
- Snowcoach tours
- Sleigh rides
The Big Sky area offers a wide variety of lodging options. Here travelers can find budget hotels, resort lodges, cabins, and condos, many offering ski-in/ski-out access to the resort's slopes. The central reservations desk can handle all the arrangements and guests can often score big savings via packages, specials, and promotions when they book directly through the resort.
Popular Big Sky lodging choices include the all-suite Lodge at Big Sky, which Yelp reviewers praised for its friendly service, spacious rooms, and magnificent views. Another great option is the historic Huntley Lodge, which offers on-site dining and shopping options, as well as the Solace Spa and Salon. The 3,000-square-foot spa and salon features a plush relaxation room and six relaxing treatment rooms, and offers access to the hotel's swimming pool, hot tub, and fitness center. Expedia and Orbitz reviewers praised Huntley Lodge's excellent location and amenities with one caveat: the hotel doesn't have air conditioning, but that isn't really an issue for wintertime guests.
Shopping and Dining
When it comes to shopping and dining, Big Sky offers no shortage of options. The resort area has approximately 20 boutique shops that offer everything from ski and snowboard equipment rentals to Montana-made gifts and luxury fur outerwear.
When hunger strikes, skiers and snowboarders don't have to go far to eat their fill; the area boasts around 50 coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants, serving up everything from fondue to pizza, sushi, seafood, and more.
- The $7 chicken dinner at the Gallatin RiverHouse Grill was a huge hit with commenters on TripAdvisor.
- Reviewers on Yelp raved about the delicious food and great service at Olive B's Big Sky Bistro.
- Known for its affordable prices, friendly staff, and tasty baked goods and pizza, the Big Sky Blue Moon Bakery is another area favorite that won praise from Urbanspoon/Zomato reviewers.
Visiting With Children or Beginner Skiers
At Big Sky Resort, visiting with children or beginner skiers isn't a problem. The resort offers child care and babysitting services, as well as an afternoon kids club that hosts regular activities and events. Parents can also treat their little ones to lessons at the resort's Mountain Village or Madison Village Snowsports Schools, which offer private or group Professional Ski Instructors of America-certified winter sports instruction for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities.
While the majority of the resort's runs are designed for advanced and expert skiers, Ski.com praised the resort's beginner areas, including the Mountain Village base area, the meandering green circle trails off of the Explorer Lift, and longer green runs like Natural Half Pipe and Upper Mr. K.
Ways to Save
Visiting a world-class ski resort can often come with a price tag that's as steep as the slopes. However, with a little planning and strategic booking, resort-goers can shave a few dollars off the cost of their ski vacations.
Single-day lift tickets at Big Sky start at $106 for adults, $86 for seniors (age 70 and older), teens age 11-17, and college students with valid university identification; and $56 for children ages 6-10. The easiest way to save on Big Sky Resort lift tickets is to purchase a Ski and Stay Package through Big Sky Central Reservations. A bonus to booking lodging through Big Sky Central Reservations is that children ages 10 and younger ski for free.
Hit the Slopes
Offering more than 5,000 skiable acres and 300 named runs, an array of shopping and dining options, and winter activities the whole family can enjoy, Big Sky Resort deserves a place on any winter sports enthusiast's bucket list. For an even more enjoyable and hassle-free trip, contact Big Sky Central Reservations and let them plan the perfect ski and snowboard dream vacation.