Big Sky

Big Sky

A skier on the back side of Big Sky in Montana (Credit: alexfe/Shutterstock)

Why you should visit Big Sky Resort

One of the largest ski resorts in the United States with nearly 6,000 skiable acres across four mountains, Big Sky gives the illusion of having the mountain all to yourself.

The resort features 300 named runs, with plenty of terrain for beginner and intermediate skiers, as well as more advanced trails for experts Big Sky is an Ikon Pass destination, but it offers a variety of lift pass options to accommodate any type of ski vacation, from day trips to week-long stays And with a variety of slope-side hotel and restaurant options within two base areas, you’ll have no reason to leave.

Big Sky boasts 4,350 vertical feet and more snow-covered acres than skiers, which are serviced by more than 30 lifts, so long lines are rarely an issue. The resort also encompasses seven terrain parks: Cowpoke and Explorer are ideal for novice skiers and boarders, while Peacemaker and Swifty, the largest parks, have more challenging elements. The staff at Big Sky are keen to ensure guests are able to make the most of their time at the park – that’s why they encourage new visitors to experience the PEEPs program, which informs skiers and boarders of the etiquette expected at the park. The Big Sky ski school provides more in-depth training with private and group lessons, as well as guided experiences like headlamp night skiing.

There’s more to do at Big Sky than ski and snowboard. When you need a break from the slopes, you can explore the terrain on a snowshoe, snowmobile or dogsled tour, or take to the skies with a ride on the Giant Swing or Adventure Zipline. And you won’t want to miss the chance to ride the Lone Peak Tram, which offers views of three states and two national parks.

Best time to visit Big Sky Resort

Ski season at Big Sky Resort begins in late November and lasts until late April. January tends to be a quieter month on the slopes, but February and March are known for their heavy snowfall, and as the days get longer, you can get more bang for your day-pass buck. As with most ski resorts, facilities tend to be crowded on weekends and holidays. You’re more likely to save on lift tickets and hotel rates if you can plan a mid-week visit.

Big Sky Resort lift tickets and ski packages

Big Sky Resort is an Ikon Pass destination, but for those who aren’t Ikon Pass holders, the resort has a number of pricing options to choose from. Single-day lift tickets start around $120 for adults, with discounts available for kids, teens and seniors; discounted half-day tickets are also available. You can purchase your tickets online, which can help you save money.

Big Sky regularly offers stay-and-ski packages that allow you to save on access to the slopes if you stay on-site. Promotions vary depending on the time of year.

Statistics
  • Summit Elevation11,166 ft
  • Base Elevation6,800 ft
  • Vertical Drop4,366 ft
  • Skiable Area5,800 ac
  • Average Snowfall400 in
Trail Information
  • Number of trails300
  • Easy15%
  • Intermediate25%
  • Expert60%
  • Longest Run6 miles
Lift Details
  • Number of Lifts34
  • Gondolas/Trams1
  • Six Pack2
  • High Speed Quads5
  • Fixed Grip Quads3
  • Triples7
  • Doubles5
  • Surface Lifts/other11
Today
2020-09-24
58°
High / Haze then Isolated Showers and Breezy

Big Sky Resort trails

Big Sky Resort trails

Twenty-four chair lifts and 12 surface lifts connect skiers and snowboarders to more than 300 trails, the longest of which stretches on for 6 miles. Big Sky’s trails are primarily designed for intermediate (25%) and advanced skiers (42%), although beginners will find plenty of space devoted to them – 15% of Big Sky’s trails cater to novice skiers and boarders. Meanwhile, Big Sky’s terrain parks provide ample space to practice your skills, with more than 100 features.

According to Big Sky’s ski instructors and ski patrol, these are the best ski trails for beginners, intermediate skiers and experts:

The best Big Sky trails for beginners

“Bear Basin, adjacent to Chet’s Knob in Mountain Village, contains two new surface lifts to provide access to a wide, learning area with terrain based teaching rollers. Our ski instructors describe rollers as ‘big, gentle swells’ or ‘snow whales.’ This helps skiers work on balance and how to adjust for varying terrain, pitch and gliding.”

The best Big Sky trails for intermediate skiers

“Tippy’s Tumble [is] a groomer with a steeper, consistent pitch on Andesite Mountain, overlooking the base area. Sunlight [is] a groomed bowl run on the south side near Shedhorn lift. The southern exposure makes for soft turns on a sunny day.”

The best Big Sky trails for experts

Liberty Bowl [is] a true top to bottom run from the top of the Tram, down 4,350 vertical feet and 6 miles down to the base area. From the top of the Tram, you have views of Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, and three states: Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Where to stay

Big Sky’s base areas feature a variety of lodging options, from traditional hotels to extended-stay home rentals. Four hotels can be found in the Mountain Village, and guests have their choice of condo-style or traditional. The Summit Hotel at Big Sky is the resort’s luxury option, and was particularly popular with former president and vice president Barack Obama and Joe Biden. For guests who prefer something more traditional (not to mention budget- and dog-friendly), the Huntley Lodge is styled like a classic ski lodge while offering a swimming pool and two hot tubs.

Those who need more space should consider renting one of Big Sky’s cabins or condos. Almost every lodging option at Big Sky offers ski-in/ski-out access.

Where to eat

There are more than 15 restaurant options in the Mountain Village. The Huntley Dining Room boasts the ‘biggest buffet breakfast in America’, and places like the The Hungry Moose Market provide quick, on-the-go options for those who can’t wait to get on the slopes. For a more elegant dining experience, Everett’s 8800 serves farm-to-table fare with views of Lone Mountain. Another memorable option is the Montana Dinner Yurt, where you’re served your meal 2 miles up the mountain.

The Madison Base also has a dining option. Headwaters Grille serves casual American fare with ski-in access.

Après-ski Activities

Big Sky has a varied après-ski scene comprised of classy cocktail bars, relaxed taprooms and just about everything in between. The Carabiner Lounge, located in the Summit Hotel, is popular for its views, which can be enjoyed from the deck. A relatively new addition to the apres-ski offerings is the Beehive Basin Brewery; located at the heart of the resort, Beehive serves its own house-made brews, and the tap list is always changing.

For a different type of après-ski relaxation, the Solace Spa & Salon offers massages, facials and a whole host of revitalizing treatments. But keep in mind that it closes for a month or so in between the winter and summer seasons.

Big Sky Resort is located in southwest Montana not far from Bozeman along US Highway 191. It is possible to fly directly to Bozeman from a number of major US cities; once there, you will either need to rent a car to get to Big Sky, or you can reserve transportation through Skyline Bus or Big Sky Shuttle, Inc. Area taxi companies will also provide transportation between the airport and the resort.

Once at Big Sky, you won’t need to depend on a car. The resort has shuttles that service the base and parking areas, and Mountain Village and Madison Base themselves are easily walkable.

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