Big Sky Resort in Montana is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. As part of a series on ski resorts, Huffington Post Travel offers our guide to Big Sky Resort, featuring all the key information snow lovers need to know before they hit the slopes.
The land is almost as big as the sky at Big Sky Resort, which offers 3,832 acres of skiable terrain. A vertical drop of 4,350 feet and runs as long as six miles attract advanced skiers, but there are plenty of easier slopes and other amenities for novices, too. Located about 20 miles southwest of Bozeman, Montana, and 75 miles northeast of Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky is remote enough that the crowds remain small and the lines short throughout the skiing season. Most visitors fly into Gallatin Field Airport (BZN), which is nine miles northwest of Bozeman, then catch a shuttle for the remaining 50 miles to the resort.
Lone Peak is 11,166 feet high and has 150 runs. The mountain is known for fine powder and rocky terrain, which can be a dangerous combination for a beginner. There's rarely a shortage of powder; the area receives a whopping 400 inches of snow annually. The season typically stretches from late November to mid-April.
Trails And Lifts
Of Big Sky Resort's 150 trails, 60 percent are recommended only for advanced and expert skiers, and the rest are acceptable for intermediate and novice skiers. The signature Big Couloir trail features a 1,200-foot vertical and a 50-degree pitch. The Flat Iron Mountain trail is one of the least challenging and is a popular run for beginners. The mountain's 16 lifts can handle 23,000 skiers per hour. Lift types include a 15-passenger tram, four high-speed quads, four triple-chairs and six double-chairs.
In The News
While Big Sky is not generally considered a celebrity hot spot, at least one Hollywood starlet likes to be dropped from a helicopter to snowboard on Lone Peak's steep slopes. Actress Jessica Biel appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman in December 2011 and discussed taking an avalanche safety course before heli-boarding at Big Sky. While the region is prone to avalanches, the Big Sky Ski Patrol actively works to keep skiers safe by triggering avalanches in a controlled way when necessary. Skiers can check the daily avalanche report produced by the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. Just before the resort opened in 1974, it was often in the news, thanks to its famous founder, broadcaster Chet Huntley of NBC's Huntley-Brinkley Report. Sadly, Huntley died just before his vision came to fruition.
Daily lift tickets are $84 for adults, $54 for kids 11 to 17 and college students with ID, and $64 for seniors 70 and older. Multiday tickets range from $168 for two days to $696 for nine days. The standard equipment rental includes skis and boots and starts at $35 per day. The children's package starts at $24 per day. Several classes are available, ranging in price from $70 for an adult's morning session to $130 for a full day of lessons.
For a relaxing post-skiing wind-down and dramatic views of Lone Peak, head to the Carabiner Lounge, located in the resort's main hotel. Live bands play at Whiskey Jack's bar and grill several nights a week. Enjoy Tuscan cuisine at Andiomo Italian Grille in the Village Center or grab a quick sandwich at Timbers Restaurant -- just two dining varieties among the resort's 40-plus options. For the kids, family-friendly movies such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are presented at the amphitheater. The resort also offers yoga and cardio classes.
WATCH: Big Sky Resort
A recent Big Sky Resort snow report provides a quick overview of the dramatic terrain and challenging slopes.