The Snow Report
Big Sky’s got big powder: 400 inches of the stuff every year. It spreads over 3,832 uncrowded acres in the form of 155 wide-open runs, 60 percent of which are reserved for experts—the Lone Peak Tram shuttles them up to the 11,166-foot summit. Prices here are average and buy access to two terrain parks and 21 lifts that drop you off atop these 4,350 vertical feet.
The staff-to-guest ratio, at one to two, is impressive—employees are anything from ski valets to “mountain ambassadors” to high-caliber instructors: Among the coaches are a British Olympian and a member of the PSIA demo team. The ski school offers private lessons, women’s clinics, off-trail mountain guides, and a mommy-and-me program, though childcare is free for resort guests.
The ski patrol is big, possibly because the nearest hospital is far: Bozeman Deaconess requires a 50-mile drive. It’s slightly disconcerting that the resort doesn’t offer a 24-hour emergency service, but at least there’s a full-time safety manager on staff.
Big Sky’s five hotels include the village’s upscale Huntley Lodge, and, along the Gallatin River, Whitewater Inn. For food, try Peaks, which serves euro-western dishes, and Andiamo, whose Italian fare aims to impress. There’s a range of shops in the Mountain Mall, and Whiskey Jacks houses a bar, a casino, and, often, live music. Off-hill recreational options range from the unique—laser tag, paintball, and Yellowstone tours—to the more traditional: an ice-skating rink, a tube park, a zipline, sleigh rides, and snowshoe hikes through Moonlight Basin.
The scenery here, between Bozeman and Yellowstone, is a national treasure, so Big Sky does all it can toward preservation—it protects the local black bears, works with the Blue Water Task Force to keep the rivers healthy, recycles, saves lots of energy, and teaches employees how to work greener.
Snowmaking is so limited that it rarely goes on for longer than eight weeks, and just 10 percent of the mountain gets covered in the manmade stuff—the best tribute, perhaps, to how often and well the freshness falls.
CONTACT: (800) 548-4486, bigskyresort.com
SEASON: Late November to mid-April
TICKETS: General: $89 ($79 for a half day), students: $69, ages 6 to 10: $49 (free if booked with Big Sky Resort Central Reservations), ages 70 and older: $79, ages 5 and younger: free