North America

Go Big, Go Different, Go Big Sky

written by | Posted on July 5th, 2012

Big Sky Ski Resort

With more than 5,500 acres, Big Sky is known as “the Biggest Skiing in America.”

The reason why they call Big Sky Resort in Montana a winter sports’ utopia—a Shangri-La for skiers and snowboarders—is because it sprawls across 5,500 acres with over 4,300 vertical ft. of terrain, all covered in picture-perfect powder making it feel as massive as the fabled and achingly beautiful Montana sky itself.

Here, in Big Sky, skiers and snowboarders from beginners to experts, and every skill level in between, will stand in awe of the enormity of the resort with over 150 named runs on three mountains, literally swallowing up the average of a mere 2,000 skiers per day, which means in many places, there’s very often less than two skiers per acre on any given day. That not only translates into no waiting on the tram lines, but it also means the opportunity for the thrill of riding down from the peak of Lone Mountain through terrain and along trails almost with no one around.

Indeed, it seems like the snow gods themselves created this area as a heavenly haven for the faithful, tucking it into its geographical dimensions where the unpredictability of wind displacement creates fresh, untracked powder runs throughout the day. Many slopes, too, face and are sheltered from the sun, often resulting in great snow conditions which—combined with the almost mystical “wind grooming”—creates a truly unique feature no other ski resort in the United States can emulate.

And if you want to be the first skier or snowboarder on the corduroy or experience a mountain of fresh powder all to yourself—of course every ski and snowboarder enthusiast does—you don’t really have to pray to the aforementioned snow gods. Just take advantage of what the resort calls the “first tracks guided experience,” which is available for booking at the base camp in advance by calling (406) 955-5769.

Connected to Big Sky Resort, and a recommended part of the overall snow riding experience, is Moonlight Basin. It offers a wide variety of tremendous and beautiful graded tree runs with relatively open passages through the trees, making it easy for even average skiers to comfortably pass through. Best of all, the joint interconnect lift tickets offer seamless skiing between the two connected mountains.

by the numbers
For clients interested in the numbers, you can comfort them with the fact that the resort is blessed with an average snowfall of more than 400 inches per year, with lift capacity that can serve over 20,000 skiers per hour—hopefully not, but the possibility is there. On the breakdown of the terrain, there’s a whopping 534 acres for beginners, 1,001 acres for intermediate, 1,535 acres for advanced and 762 acres for experts. For those who enjoy a long run, they’re going to love the 6-mile journey from Liberty Bowl to Mountain Mall.

Another plus is that Big Sky has one of the finest snow sport schools in the country, with a diverse staff of instructors and Alpine guides available to deliver a wealth of knowledge and skill. To register for lessons or a guide, clients can visit the snow sports school in the Snowcrest Lounge right at the base of the mountain. And parents traveling with their little ones who might be too young to ski will want to know that the Lone Peak Playhouse is also located at the base of the slopes.

the village
When it’s time to take off the skis and jump off the snowboard, head to the Big Sky Resort village, a charming and easily walkable little denizen with more than a dozen cozy restaurants and watering holes offering a wide variety of cuisine and beverages, including everything from nachos and micro-brews to fine Italian cuisine and aged bison rib-eyes.

One of our favorite places for a hearty breakfast buffet—and ideal for getting ready for a busy day on the slopes—is Huntley Dining Room, located in the Huntley Lodge at Shoshone Condominium Hotel, offering a casual family ambiance. For lunch or a quick bite after skiing, hit Yeti Dogs or the Burger Bar for black angus burgers, bison burgers, veggie burgers or some Polish kielbasa or pierogies. Among the spots for finer dining in the evening is Peaks Restaurant, Carabiner Lounge, Andiamo Italian Grill or the Fondue Stupe.

But it’s the intimate and unique back country Montana Dinner Yurt experience travelers to the area won’t want to miss. Guests meet at the Big Sky Summit Hotel outside the Caribiner Lounge and hop into an enclosed passenger snowcat for a fun 20-minute ride through the picturesque mountain forest to the Montana Dinner Yurt. A torch-lit sledding run and campfire lights illuminate the scene outside, while candles flicker inside and the sound and smell of a wood stove keeps the yurt comfortably warm. Long tables covered with white linens and candles provide the opportunity to comfortably socialize while musicians play acoustic guitar, all providing for a truly unique dining experience.

Once the dinner bell is rung, a top-shelf dinner is served in hearty courses of fine comfort cuisine including french onion soup, filet mignon, garlic mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables, finished with Toblerone chocolate fondue with fruit and pound cake. The evening concludes with a ride back to the Summit Hotel to complete an unforgettable evening around 9:45 p.m.

Or, clients can head to the energetic Whiskey Jack’s, complete with live bands, or relax at the Carabiner Lounge at the elegant Euro-Western Summit Hotel. Also in the mountain village center is a wide array of shops with made-in Montana gifts and there are plenty of shops located in the various hotels in the mountain village center.