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Big Sky

Big Sky Ski Resort Guide

Big Sky, United States

Rated: 3/5 (from 6 ratings)

Ski Area Highlights
Recommended ForExpert Skiers, Snowboarders, Snowfall and Apres-Ski!
Total Piste Length136km
Highest Lift3,410m
Resort Height2,290m
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Big Sky

A new tram into the top of Lone Peak gave Big Sky the biggest lift-served vertical in the USA in 1995 (a title since taken by Snowmass in 1997), and the area has won numerous awards for its uncrowded slopes and non-existant lift lines/queues. There's an average of less than two skiers per acre on the busiest days and the longest lift lines are reportedly to the free breakfast buffet at Huntley Lodge where up to 927 guests may be served. The resort still holds the world record as the place where the most vertical feet have been skied in one day, by local Rusty Squire who made 220 helicopter ascents to claim his title. There is skiing on two lift-linked mountains for all standards and good facilities for 'boarders and telemarkers. The steepest route down is Castro's shoulder, with a 50 degree pitch, whilst the Big Couloir run down from the tram has pitches of around 42 degrees nd is 2600 feet long. There are numerous accommodation options for all tastes and budgets, including the slopeside Huntly Lodge, Snoshore and Snowcrest Lodge condominiums. The resort's biggest project has been the construction of the 45 million dollar slopeside Summit Hotel. Big Sky is located close to Yellowstone National Park.

In 2013 the resort merged with neighbour Moonlight Basin to create the largest ski area in the US. Moonlight Basin had been the first major new US destination resort for 20 years when it opened in 2003. Located approximately one hour from Bozeman, Montana, is located on the north face of Lone Mountain in the Madison Range. Lone Mountain also serves as home to the famed Big Sky Resort and the two are lift-linked together, a rare thing in North American skiing. Moonlight Basin's northern exposure given deep snow with drier, more consistent snow. The resort is the brainchild of two Montana natives - Joe Vujovich and Lee Poole, and their Fort Lauderdale-based partner, Keith Brown. who purchased the area in the early 1990s.

At build out, ski development will include approximately 2,500 acres of terrain, with a small portion of the partners' original purchase developed for ski terrain and home ownership. The remainder will be preserved as forest and wildlife habitat.

Summary

The American ski resort of Big Sky is in the American Rockies at an altitude of 2,290m, with 136km of marked runs.

Big Sky has direct access to 136km of downhill skiing, with 150 marked pistes, served by a total of 18 ski lifts.

The ski resort itself is at 2,290m, so skiing or boarding back to the resort is usually possible. With ski lifts as high as 3,410m, skiing and snowboarding is assured throughout the season.

Snow and Weather

When will it snow in Big Sky?

There is currently no significant snow in the 7-day forecast for Big Sky.

See our long-range Snow Forecast for the latest update, or   Join our Snow Mail Here

Snow this week

Snow Forecast by day for Big Sky
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Ski Area Stats

Big Sky Ski Area

Piste and Lift Stats
Black Pistes
Expert Trails
29
Red Pistes
Intermediate Runs
39
Blue Pistes
Easy Trails
 7 
Downhill
Total Length
136km
Cross Country
Total Length
65km
Ski Lifts
Number of Lifts
18

Altitudes

Big Sky Ski Area Heights

Lift Heights and Resort Altitude
Highest Lift3,410m
Resort Altitude (Big Sky)2,290m
Lowest Piste2,070m
Max Vertical1,340m

Ratings & Suitability

Ratings for Big Sky
Expert Skiers
Intermediate Skiers
Snowboarding
Snow
Apres-Ski

Big Sky Overview

It was Chet Huntley, the late NBC newscaster who conceived and built Big Sky and was responsible for its opening in 1973. After his death in 1974 it was bought over by Boyne USA, a Michigan-based corporation which also owns a chain of other mountain ski and golf resorts across the United States including Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands in Michigan, Brighton Resort in Utah, Crystal Mountain in Washington and Gatlinburg in Tennessee. The family-run corporation started in 1947 and is still run by Everett Kircher and his family. Located in the southwest corner of Montana, Big Sky is surrounded by the magnificent Gallatin Range of the Northern Rockies. With its spectacular natural beauty its not surprising that Robert Redford chose the Gallatin River to film his classic movie A River Runs Through It.

Skiing is on two lift linked peaks, Lone Mountain which resembles the Matterhorn and towers at a height of 3398m/11,150ft and Andesite Mountain at 2682m/8,800ft . Lone Mountain peak is definitely a serious skiers' mountain but the lower levels are perfect for intermediates. The Mountain Village sits at 2286m/7,500ft and Meadow Village at approximately 1890m/6,200ft. The average winter temperature hovers around 20º F while summer temperatures generally climb into the upper 80's. With very little humidity, the snow is extremely light and fluffy averaging around 10m/400 inches annually.

The Lone Peak Tram gave Big Sky the biggest lift-served vertical in the USA in 1995 (a title since taken by Snowmass in 1997), and the area has won numerous awards for its uncrowded slopes and non-existant lift lines/queues. The 15-person Dopplemayr tram carries passengers 3,300 vertical feet at a rapid 4.5 minute pace to the summit of Lone Mountain. There's an average of less than two skiers per acre on the busiest days and the longest lift lines are reportedly to the free breakfast buffet at Huntley Lodge where up to 927 guests may be served.

The resort still holds the world record as the place where the most vertical feet have been skied in one day, by local Rusty Squire who made 220 helicopter ascents to claim his title. Skiing for all standards on two lift-linked mountains and good facilities for boarders and telemarkers. The steepest route down is Castro's shoulder, with a 50 degree pitch, whilst the Big Couloir run down from the tram has pitches of around 42 degrees and is 2,600 feet long. Big Sky boasts one of the longest runs in the States - the run down from Liberty Bowl to the Base Area being 6 miles long.

Numerous accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets, including the slopeside Huntly Lodge, Shoshone and Snowcrest Lodge condominiums. The resort's biggest project has been the construction of the 45 million dollar slopeside Summit Hotel located less than 300ft from two high speed quads and a gondola on what might be the last best place for slopeside lodging in the Rockies.

Big Sky is located close to Yellowstone National Park which has the world's greatest concentration of thermal springs including their Old Faithful - popular with tourists as the most frequently erupting geyser in the park. Tourist hot spots include Yellow stone Lake, the largest mountain lake in the northern hemisphere and the Old Faithful Inn, the largest log structurein the world and a National Historic Landmark. Built in 1904 of ageless knotty pine logs and other indigenous materials, the lobby rises 85 feet above a massive fireplace of native stone. Like Yellowstone, its totally unique.

I

 Notable Ski Runs

The most difficult run is the 'Castro's Shoulder'.

Skiing

Skiing is on two lift-linked mountains with 75 trails on more than 1,500 acres comprising 20% beginner, 50%intermediate and 30% expert. The addition of the Lone Peak Tram opened terrain that is tough, with pitches averaging 28 degrees. However if you get to the top and find that the chutes, couloirs and steeps are over your head then you can simply enjoy the 360º views of three states, Yellowstone National Park , the Grand Tetons and ride back down. The 15-person Dopplemayr tram ascends the 3,300 vertical feet at a rapid 4.5 minute pace to the summit. Prior to its installation, skiers and boarders had to hike for almost an hour to reach the summit.

Lone Peak provides the starting point for a multitude of white-knuckle descents including the Dictator Shutes, the Big Couloir and the Gullies. The lift also opened the Peak to advanced skiers, in the wide open alpine terrain of Liberty Bowl. Certain runs accessed by the Lone Peak Tram require skiers and snowboarders to sign out with ski patrol, ski with a partner and be equipped with a transceiver and shovel. The terrain available to visitors of Big Sky is unequalled by any resort in the States. The Lone Peak Tram is accessed by riding either of Big Sky's two gondolas, then taking the Lone Peak triple chairlift to the Upper Morning Star trail.

Having lift served access to above-treeline terrain is rare but to have the ability to begin a run from the very summit of a Matterhorn-like mountain is fully distinctive of Big Sky and its Lone Peak Tram. The Shedhorn double chairlift allows less advanced skiers to enjoy wide-cut runs into the trees on the lower elevation of the mountain's south side. Shedhorn can be accessed from either the tram or Gondola II. South Face skiers return to the main base area via a traverse to the top of Gondola II and down intermediate runs such as Lobo or Calamity Jane.

A favourite with children is alway the natural half-pipe on Lower Morning Star while the best intermediate cruising run is Elk Park Ridge. Above the trees skiing, Austrian run ski school and Dopplemayr lift all give Big Sky a distinct European flavour.

Big Sky offers good sking, particularly, for Expert and Intermediate skiers.

Snowboarding

A new Terrain Park opened on Andesite for the 98-99 season, Big Sky's 25th anniversary year. The park features a half-pipe with an inter-park rope tow and stereo system. The Olympic quality half-pipe is 400 feet long and 50 feet wide with walls 12 feet high. The inter-park rope tow will be 450 feet long allowing riders to make laps on the half-pipe. Snowmaking capabilities in the park will provide additional snow for hits, banked turns and kickers.

Big Sky's parent company, Boyne USA Resorts, has hired Dave Rogers to design the new area. According to Snowboarder Magazine (Oct. '98), Rogers is the Midwest's premier snowpark builder and manager. Rogers, who has 10 years' experience building terrain parks, also will be reconstructing and rearranging the parks at Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands in Michigan. When creating terrain parks, Rogers prefers to rely on his intuition and the riders' input. I prefer to examine the slope and observe how the snow is laying, then start pushing the snow around and feeling my way, Rogers said. I also ask for feedback from the locals - that's the key to a great terrain park. The resort has purchased a Pipe Dragon grooming machine, and Rogers plans to reshape the park each month. The park is located on North Ambush off the Ramcharger High Speed Quad. Events staged at the Park include the Thrash and Bash Cross Games - a combined boardercross, skiercross and telecross event.

Location and Map

Where is Big Sky?

This ski resort is in the American Rockies in Gallatin, Montana.

Map

Tap Show Map in Full Screen for Full-Screen, or see J2Ski's Resort map, showing Hotels and Ski Shops.

How to get there

Infrastructure

Ski Lift Capacity

The 18 ski lifts are able to uplift 20,000 skiers and snowboarders every hour.

Season Dates

When is Big Sky open?

We don't currently have confirmed season dates, but hope to soon.

Usual opening is late November (Thanksgiving), and usual closing is Mid April.

NOTE:- Ski area, lift and piste opening is subject to Current Snow Conditions.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus

We don't yet have specific details of the COVID-19 precautions being taken in Big Sky, but they are likely to include most of the following :-

  • Face masks required on lifts, and in shops.
  • Social distancing in public areas.
  • Reduced lift capacity.
  • Extensive disinfection / sanitization.

French Ski Resort COVID-19 Measures describes further measures that may also be applied.

Visit the Big Sky Tourist Office for the latest.

Talking about Big Sky

Mentions in recent J2Ski News Items and Snow Reports from our users...

Aprés Ski

The hub of night activity is the Mountain Vilage. Happy hour kicks off in Chet's Bar in the Huntley Lodge, with the Crazy Austrian show (just go and see it). Chet's also has poker games - legal in Montana, and theres live music and electronic gaming. Other places to check out in the Mountain Village are Lolo's, Dante's and Scissorbills. The Meadow Village tends to be quieter but Rocco's and Allgoods Bar & Grill are likely to attract crowds at night. I

n the canyon, check out the Buck's T-4 game room, with pool tables, football and video games. Locals like the Corral and the Half Mon Saloon, with darts and pool. Both are roadhouse-style Western bars.

After the lifts close you could enjoy an old fashioned sleigh ride into Montana's past. Horse drawn sleighs ride through the pines to the North Fork Cabin where you can enjoy a feast prepared over a century-old woodburning stove and enjoy live entertainment before the lantern-lit ride back home.

For more details of apres-ski visit www.bigskychamber.com or check Big Sky's local newspaper, the Lone Peak Lookout which has entertainment listings.

Big Sky