Big Sky Ski Resort

Big Sky Montana
Mountain Village Big Sky
Big Sky Resort Montana
Big Sky Ski Resort has plenty of steep terrain
The oversized Ramcharger lift
Mountain Village Big Sky
Big Sky Ski Resort Montana
Big Sky Resort
The Ramcharger, Big Sky Montana
The novice area just above Mountain Village
The iconic Lone Mountain
Trails in all directions
Big Sky Montana
Mountain Village is mostly made up of a collection of hotels
Big Sky Resort
Big Sky Ski Resort
Big Sky Resort
The Summit Hotel in the background
One tiny part of Big Sky Ski Resort
The ski area is spread across different mountains

Big Sky Ski Resort

Readers Ratings

Big Sky

Big Sky4/521
Big Sky4 out of 5 based on 21 reviews
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Big Sky Ski Resort

Big Sky Montana is ….. big! Actually it’s massive! The skiable terrain of the Big Sky Ski Resort is one of the largest in North America, and the vertical drop is also one of the biggest in North America.

Overall Big Sky is a very good ski resort that’s undeniably big, but Big Sky Resort makes various baseless claims about being the biggest and the best. One of Big Sky’s main mottos is “Biggest Skiing in America”, even though it’s not the biggest. And they claim to have the “Best Lift in the World”, although the Europeans might have something to say about that. And Big Sky Ski Resort says they’ve got the most consistent snow in the North American Rockies even though the average snowfall for the past 10 years is 100 inches below their cited average…the list goes on.

Big Sky is the most popular ski resort in Montana, and compared to the other Montana ski areas, the Big Sky Ski Resort has very well developed infrastructure and amenities. Nevertheless it’s still a far cry from some of the proper “world class” resorts that can be found elsewhere.

Pros and Cons of Big Sky Montana

  • Big Sky Ski Resort has very large ski and snowboard terrain, with lots of trails for all ability levels.
  • The ski area tends to be uncrowded in most spots because there’s so much space for skiers and snowboarders to spread out.
  • Big Sky Resort continues to invest lots of money into infrastructure upgrades.
  • Big Sky is only about an hour drive from Yellowstone National Park.
  • Big Sky has negligible village atmosphere. There is no nice village that you can stroll through. Options for evening dining are limited and après ski is equally disappointing.
  • The whole place feels like it’s just a real estate extravaganza that features a tasteless show of exorbitant wealth (OK maybe we’re just jealous because we’re ski bums).
  • Big Sky Ski Resort has some phenomenal alpine expert terrain off Lone Peak but the tiny little tram that accesses it only fits 15 people (!!) so expect incredibly long waits, even if it’s not a powder day.
  • Big Sky has a distinct lack of options for on-mountain dining for lunch and/or to warm up, and it can be a mighty long way to get back down to the main village.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • A good proportion of the lodging is ski-in ski-out or close to the slopes, but it’s so spread out. Whilst there are buses that head around the many zones, it’s a bit of a pain to go out in the evenings (which may explain the lack of restaurant options).
  • Big Sky is accessible off the Ikon Pass and the Mountain Collective, but don’t tell any of the locals that you have an Ikon Pass or they may eat you alive for making it busier.
  • Big Sky Resort has invested in some high speed chairs, but some of the other chair lifts are painfully slow.

Big Sky Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Big Sky acquired the adjacent Moonlight Basin Ski Resort to form a very sizeable ski area with 5,850 acres (2,367 hectares), 300 named runs and a vertical drop of 4,366 feet (1,330 metres). Whilst the vertical is definitely highly likely to get the thighs burning and the lungs screaming, the vertical is only 2,400ft (731m) if you don’t include the little tin can tram on Lone Mountain. Big is best according to the resort and there are plans afoot to expand even further (probably to enable more real estate sales close to slopes and to actually become the biggest in America).

Big Sky has 7 terrain parks and really good terrain for beginners, an abundance of intermediate cruisers, and plenty of black piste cut runs. There is also a good proportion of aptly rated double blacks, most of which are alpine runs between rocky features. About half of these can only be accessed from the Lone Peak Tram which has very poor lifting capacity because it only carries 15 passengers every 4 minutes, so lift queues develop. The terrain serviced by the tram is steep and gnarly to say the least; it will make your jaw drop and your sphincter tighten! The steeps, chutes and cliffs have become a rite of passage for expert skiers.

Thankfully lift queues at the other lifts are not a major issue. Big Sky has 36 lifts of which 24 are chairs and 7 are high-speed (this will change into the future). The Ramcharger 8-pack arrived with a lot of fanfare, but it seemed like major overkill for only 1,160ft (350m) of vertical.

Big Sky Snow

Big Sky has the dubious claim of the “most consistent snowfall in the Northern American Rockies” because it has “an average annual snowfall of 400 inches which fluctuates very little from year to year”. Big Sky does reasonably well in the snowfall stakes, but the stats seem odd. In a recent decade (09/10 to 18/19), the average snowfall was only 311 inches (7.9m), with swings of up to 266 inches between seasons.

Where is Big Sky Montana?

The Big Sky Ski Resort is located in the Madison Mountain Range which is part of the Rocky Mountains. Big Sky is in southwest Montana, about an hour southwest of the college town of Bozeman.

The closest airport is the regional Bozeman airport which has direct service from several major airports, although compared to other western US ski destinations, there are less direct flights. From the Bozeman airport there are affordable shuttles to Big Sky. Car rentals are also available at the airport, although a car is generally not necessary once you’re at Big Sky.

Big Sky Lodging & Villages

Mountain Village is the main on-mountain village at Big Sky Resort. It’s not a village that you can stroll through, but rather a collection of a few buildings and hotels that house the limited number of shops, restaurants, and bars, so keep your expectations low regarding the après ski activities and nightlife. A couple of the Big Sky hotels are ski-in ski-out, whilst other hotels and condo buildings are a short walk from the slopes.

The White Otter and Cascade lifts service a series of access trails to an abundance of condos and houses, and the old Moonlight Basin base area (Madison Base) also has a web of streets that have slopeside houses.

Down the road from Big Sky Resort is Town Center (aka Big Sky town) which is reasonably new, and the housing down there seems to spread for miles. The town has a little main street with some shops and restaurants and lots of real estate companies, otherwise the amenities are rather spread out. Town Center is about 6.5 miles from Mountain Village and it’s serviced via a complimentary shuttle system. Just a fraction further along is Meadow Village which is mostly residential.

Big Sky Accommodation Listings

Big Sky Activities

The Big Sky area offers various winter activities to supplement the skiing and snowboarding at the resort. A visit to Yellowstone National Park should be top of the list, either as a day trip from Big Sky or you could stay in West Yellowstone for a night or two before or after your vacation at Big Sky.

There are family friendly activities such as tubing, ziplining, and sleigh rides. Big Sky is a Nordic skiing mecca, and other things to do include day spas, dog sledding and snowmobiling.
Tours In/Near Big Sky Resort

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Wild West Tour
12 Days | 11 Nights | 9 Skiing | 4 Resorts
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Join DreamSki Adventures on this incredible Wild West tour of Wyoming & Montana & ski 4 of the best steep & deep destinations in the USA including Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee, Moonlight Basin and Big Sky. This tour is for SKIERS ONLY & includes in-field coaching if you want to improve your skiing.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share room occupancy.
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*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
AUD 6,374
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See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Big Sky here