Here's the bottom line about Big Sky: every time we visit I end up looking at property there. There are a lot of reasons why Big Sky Resort is getting more popular in the past decade. The parent company is investing a ton of money in the on-mountain experience, the aprés scene is growing and Montana is one of the most awesome off the grid places that are completely family friendly.
30 SECOND OVERVIEW Big Sky Resort
Type of Resort: Luxury Destination Ski Resort
Best Age Range for Kids: From age three to 18, there's something for all abilities
Food: Solid American fare with a focus on local, but not a lot of variety. They are working on it. Not yet a foodie destination.
Activities: In addition to skiing and riding, loads of winter play available like nordic skiing, dog sledding, winter zip line and more.
Childcare: They run a world-class ski school for kids two and up. Children 6 months to 8 years old are welcome at Lone Peak Playhouse for a safe and fun alternative to skiing.
Spa: Huntley lodge has a day spa. Treatments are very good, though the spa is not very posh. The anticipated Montage spa should fix this in 2020.
Clientele: Families who love skiing and winter fun. Many expert skiers on the mountain, but it’s an ideal spot for skiers from advanced beginners and up. It's not flashy. There are plenty of millionaires out there, but unlike Aspen, they are hard to pick out.
Charm factor: Off the charts. From the cozy Bozeman airport, to the yurt dining experiences you’ll feel the Montana factor through and through.
Trip Planning to Big Sky
On my forth trip to Big Sky I took along some girlfriends to fill them in on the news that Montana rocks. I brought along Pam from Project Nursery and Suzanne from Gotham Love. The three of us skied our brains out and explored all the newest features in and around Big Sky. We were a mix of abilities but had this in common, we all love travel and we all love snow.
This is one of my favorite ski superlatives in the industry: Ski Big Sky offers an average of two acres per skier. And from personal experience I can tell you, Big Sky’s lift lines are small to non-existent. I was thrilled to get to bring two of my BFFs from the industry to this special place.
We flew in from NYC and San Francisco and it was pretty seamless. The Bozeman airport is a smooth running operation and it's an easy drive the resort after you land. We packed all this fun into three days, but give yourself more time!
Since it's a pretty good haul from NYC, I recommend at least 5 days for your Big Sky Trip. A week is even better. With a week, you can make huge progress with your skiing AND take a day off to head to Lone Mountain Ranch for Nordic Skiing or do a snowmobile tour of Yellowstone (which I have yet to do...it's on the list).
Big Sky by the Numbers
- 5850 Skiable Acres
- 36 lifts
- 4350 Vertical Feet
- Trail breakdown: 15% Beginner/25% Intermediate/42% Advanced/18% Expert
- Summit (Lone Peak) - 11,166 feet
- Number of Terrain Parks: 7
What’s New at Big Sky
I'm such a cheerleader of Big Sky. And they make it so easy to be an advocate, because they keep giving me more of what I want. Last year they gave me (and all the other skiers) another awesome high-speed lift. Ramcharger 8 is the first of its kind in the world.
It's a high speed lift with capacity for 8 and a sooooo much luxury --3,200 skiers per hour can ride up Andesite Mountain on Ramcharger 8. The seats are extra wide and ergonomically-shaped. The weather-proof bubble gets everyone cozy. My only complaint is that the ride goes too fast!
The Shedhorn area also saw a lift improvement. And I'm thrilled with how money Big Sky is spending to make time spent on the mountain more enjoyable.
Food News At Big Sky
The Exchange, a hub for gathering, shopping & nourishment, is upping the ante on Mountain Village’s dining, après ski, restrooms and lockers. Renovations are currently underway to introduce a modern food hall for the 2019-2020 ski season.
Vista Hall will offer plentiful indoor and outdoor seating for guests taking a ski break, warming up, or grabbing a bite to eat. Families can pick from six new food concept stations: Sushi + Bowls, Taqueria, Deluxe Grille, Café & Bakery, Stone Fired Pizza, and Three Forks Deli. I love that families will have more options. It's no fun being at a crowded resort and having to fight for seats.
On Mountain Food at Big Sky
Dining keeps getting better at Big Sky. When it comes to can't miss dining experiences, Everett’s can' be beat. They are open for breakfast (be sure to check out the first-tracks breakfast you can book), lunch and dinner. I love the experience of riding th Ramcharger 8 bubble lift to this stunning mountaintop chalet.
Everett's is set up with Lone Peak as the backdrop, the food is awesome with a heavy emphasis on Montana fare (for instance the lamb is from Montana Natural Lamb in Big Timber, MT). The elk chili is outstanding and there's a great wine list. For the kids, there's a fantastic kid’s menu that's not dumbed down, like the Bison Ravioli. Reservations suggested.
On our girl's trip we also got to check out the snowcat dinner. We left from the village and headed out in a few cats two miles up Lone Peak. You an opt to sit on the roof or inside (hint, inside is warmer). As the snow was gently falling, we made our way up to the heated yurt.
As the experts grilled the salmon and steaks for dinner, we enjoyed a glass of wine (it's BYOB, there's a decent market in the village for wine) and watched the more energetic souls on the sledding hill. We had a great meal that kicked off with a hearty soup and finished with a savory dessert and had a big hunk of salmon in between. Get the details here. Book at (406) 995-3880.
Big Sky Snowsports School
Big Sky Snowsports School has some seriously passionate instructors. As an advanced skier, I 100% invest in a guide or lesson whenever I can. I love how the experts know about untouched stashes and always push me to try something new. On this trip, we had a women who, like me, were interested in advancing their skills.
We were lucky to be connected with private instruction on our trip. I worked on flowing more freely over moguls (a work in progress) while the other ladies had their own goals.
If you are traveling with kiddos, the great news is they can start small at Big Sky. Small Fry Try is a 45 minute private lesson to introduce 2-4 year olds to the sport. It's the perfect amount of time for little legs. Kids ages 4-6 can join Mini Skier Camp to make new friends while honing their skills on the slopes. My kids have had great experiences at the Ski School and I can 100% recommend it. They group by age and ability to make sure everyone is getting a challenge and having fun.
This is the place to learn. Big Sky has 2,300 acres dedicated to beginner and intermediate terrain. With this amount of elbow room you decrease the odds of getting bowled over by an out of control snowboarder (again, sorry, but it's true!)
If the kids aren’t ready for the hill, they can head to Lone Peak Playhouse for a safe and fun alternative to skiing. This is a great option for the babies 6 months and up. And it means mom doesn't have to sit out the skiing when she travels. All the kid care is located in the Snowcrest Lodge.
Lodging Options at Big Sky Resort
On my numerous visits to Big Sky I’ve tested out an assortment of lodging. My kids love the cute log cabin in Cowboy Haven, I like the ski-in/ski-out access at the Summit Lodge. But I think we could all agree on a Stillwater condo. This location is a short walk from the village and it’s easy to start your day on skis from the Bear Back Poma.
The Stillwater condos have plenty of parking and gorgeous mountain views. They are also outfitted with large kitchens and living spaces and have private balconies. There's nothing like a soak in your secluded hot tub to melt away stress and prep your body for the next day on the slopes. With the combination of location and space, I highly recommend these condos to visitors.
How to Maximize Your Trip to Big Sky
I am a big proponent of ski passes. Each year I start pitching families to get a pass. At Big Sky you can ski with an Ikon or Mountain Collective Pass.
Getting to Montana is getting easier and easier. JetBlue is now offering air service to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) from Long Beach. United Airlines has added more frequent daily service to BZN from Houston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Daily service to BZN from Portland, Oregon is offered year-round on Alaska Airlines. Since we are a Delta family, we tend to connect through Minneapolis (it's pretty easy).
The great news is, with all the new carriers coming in and the expanded flight options, rates are getting cheaper to Big Sky.
Big Sky is Just Getting Started
Now is the time to visit Big Sky. The parent company, Boyne Resorts, will be sinking more and more money into the resort as it becomes a global ski destination. There's a new Montage hotel coming in and more development is in the works.
Boyne Resorts calls their master plan the "Big Sky 2025" vision. The company plans to put in a $150 million capital investment in on-mountain and village improvements. With each of my visits I see the changes, but I will say it all seems very responsible and planned. Unlike Vail the company is thoughtful in the community involvement. They've built a ton of staff housing to support the increase in business.
With this much terrain and a commitment to sustainable growth, I'm not worried about the mountain getting crowded, but I will imagine it will get more expensive. If you've got a young family, make plans now to fall in love with Montana and ski Big Sky.
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This Reasons Why Big Sky Resort Is Getting More Popular In The Past Decade feature is sponsored by Visit Montana and Big Ski Resort.