Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky, Montana, is a well-equipped resort nearly an hour's drive from the nearest town, Bozeman. The resort has nearly 20 restaurants and bars, a snowboard store, and a couple of lodges, so there's always something going on. It's unlikely you'll go stir-crazy within a few weeks, but if you feel the symptoms coming on, get your butt to Bozeman to kick out the jams.
Big Sky offers 3,500 acres of incredibly diverse terrain spread over two mountains: Lone Mountain and Andesite Mountain. Lone Peak is the first thing you see as you drive up the road. It's an enduring icon and a perennial challenge, even for strong riders. Before the Lone Peak Tram was built in '95, only crazies hiked the peak. Back then, Big Sky was known for its intermediate terrain and light lift lines. The tram has since escalated Big Sky's lift-serviced vertical into the league of top-ranking U.S. resorts, and has opened up huge amounts of advanced and expert terrain. Both sides of the peak offer steep-as-you-like cliffs and chutes descending into the rugged bowl above the tree line and the main trails. There is no easy way down from the top, and even the wide-open South Face has a gradient of up to 50 degrees. Andesite is the 8,800-foot cone just south of the base area, featuring wide, groomed trails down both sides. It is named after the area's abundance of Andesite shale, which has a voracious appetite for P-tex and steel edges.
The resort receives huge amounts of snow from storms coming from the west or southwest. The two peaks tend to pick up any snow in the area. Due to the predominantly southern and eastern aspects of the lower mountain, the slushies tend to come early.
Big Sky Essentials
Web site: www.bigskyresort.com
Mountain information: (406) 995-5894
Snow report: (406) 995-5900
By plane: Several airlines have daily service to Gallatin Fields Airport at Bozeman. The resort is approximately one hour from Bozeman by car. Shuttle service to and from the airport is also available.
By car: Big Sky is three miles off Highway 191, which runs between West Yellowstone and Bozeman up the side of the Gallatin River.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication