Big Sky Resort
Uncrowded and Family-Friendly
My two southern daughters have grown up taking an annual ski trip to Big Sky Resort since they turned 4. We have always enjoyed the powder and groomed trails at Big Sky with its consistently good snow. We like it, because it is super family friendly, unpretentious, and less crowded than many large, western ski resorts.
We also like Big Sky because of its reasonable altitude. The base of the mountain (Mountain Village) is 7,500 feet, so we acclimate quickly. FYI: the summit of Lone Peak is 11,166 feet. The closest airport is located in Bozeman, MT and is located 1 hour and 15 minutes away. A great stop in its own right.
Big Sky’s Mountain Village
Big Sky Resort is separated into two areas: Big Sky Mountain Village and Moonlight Basin in the Madison Base Area which is 15 minutes up the mountain from the Village. Both have lots of lodging options. The Mountain Village is the hub of the resort and has better access to ski lifts, restaurants, and activities, but is limited to smaller condos.
The majority of our favorite runs are accessed from the Mountain Village: The Bowl, Calamity Jane, Lizette, and oh so many more. Tip: If you want true “beginner green” runs, stick to the Explorer Lift. Big Sky Resort’s winter trails map can be found here.
Moonlight Basin will have larger townhomes and beautiful mountain homes with slope side access but is further away from the activities of Mountain Village.
What If You Don't Ski?
But I have to be honest. I don't snow ski. My family lives to snow ski; I don't. So why do I like Big Sky?
For many, many reasons. The scenery is simply stunning, and I enjoy the laid-back vibe and the friendly, happy people. It's a great place to be, and I have found plenty to do sans skis.
So, here's a short wrap up of what's available for those non-skiing, Big Sky lovers:
Cross Country Skiing
Lone Mountain Ranch has been voted the #1 Nordic Ski Resort in North America by Cross Country Skier magazine. It is located just a 10 minute drive down the mountain.
You can take a 2 hour guided snowshoe tour up Moose Track Trail at the base of the ski lifts ($50). It’s a decent workout and offers good views of the Spanish Peaks on a clear day. Make reservations at Big Sky Base Camp in Mountain Village. I have never taken the tour and have generally found the trail packed down enough for boots. If you want (or need) to rent snowshoes, you can just do that for much cheaper at the ski rental.
You can also enjoy walking the pathways throughout the resort.
Frozen Waterfalls at the end of Ousel Falls Trail
An easy 1.6 mile roundtrip hike to Ousel Falls in the winter leads you to a frozen wonderland. It is located two miles from the Town Center on Ousel Falls Rd, about 20 minutes from the resort. The parking area is on the left. The trailhead is at the backside of the parking lot. This is a heavily trafficked trail, so you will likely be able to hike it in your boots. Depending on the weather conditions, you may need crampons or snowshoes. Note: You can also reach the trailhead by walking 2 miles from Town Center.
Watch a Movie
The Big Sky Town Center is located on Ousel Falls Road, a 10-15 minute drive down the mountain from Big Sky Resort. It offers a selection of shops, restaurants, and a movie theater. Eat a pizza at Ousel & Spur Pizza Co. and catch a new release movie at the Lone Peak Cinema.
You can also strap on some ice skates and skate at the Town Center outdoor rink. Rentals at East Slope Outdoors (406) 995-4369 and Grizzly Outfitters (406) 995-2939, both in Town Center. Note: Skyline Bus offers a free shuttle service up and down the mountain from Big Sky Resort to Town Center.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is roughly one hour south of Big Sky. The resort can arrange transportation to the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park to take a snow coach tour to Old Faithful or the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. During the winter, Yellowstone is only open to snowcoaches and snowmobiles. This is truly a unique and memorable way to experience the national park. It’s expensive: $145 adults and $110 children, plus national park entrance fee, and roundtrip transportation from Big Sky to West Yellowstone. This is a full day trip that can be arranged by Big Sky Resort.
These are just a few of the special activities to be enjoyed at Big Sky for the non-skier. Curling up in front of the fireplace and reading a book is also a luxury activity for me. The resort offers a full spa (which I haven't tried), a fitness center, and daily yoga lessons as well. For more information including lodging recommendations, where to eat, and how to save money on lodging and ski rental, visit our simply awesome Big Sky Winter Itinerary.