Skiing Beautiful Montana at Big Sky

Looking for a family-friendly ski resort that offers more than just fun on the slopes? Then you have to check out Big Sky! Big Sky is a ski resort located in southwest Montana. You’ll have easy access to activities that give you a taste of Western adventures and the cowboy lifestyle. But because Big Sky is so close to Yellowstone National Park, you also have the opportunity to explore some of the most spectacular scenery in the United States. Many thanks to Big Sky for hosting us!

Getting There

The closest airport to Big Sky is Bozeman. With the mountains in the background, this is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful airport runways in the United States. From there, it’s about an hour drive to Big Sky.

The Accommodations

We stayed in condo 8512 at Snowcrest Lodge, which undoubtedly has one of the best locations in all of Big Sky.

There’s an open concept kitchen with an absolutely massive island, which means it can easily double as a dining table, even for a big party. There’s a spacious living area with a fireplace, and I especially loved the vintage sleigh coffee table. There are two bedrooms on the main floor. Serge and I took the larger room with a striking bison painting above the king bed. The second bedroom on this floor has a queen bed. Up the stairs is a loft area with a third queen bed, as well as an absolutely Pinterest-worthy custom built sleeping area with bunk beds and two additional beds. The girls love bunk beds, so of course they decided to sleep here!

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

One of my favorite parts of this condo is the huge storage area right when you come in. Not only are there plenty of cubbies and hooks for everyone’s gear, but there’s even a boot warmer that can hold up to 14 pairs of ski boots! There’s a balcony with amazing views of the ski lifts, and also… a hot tub! Hot tubs are always fun, but hot tubbing when it’s cold outside is especially enjoyable.

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

When you stay at the Snowcrest Lodge, you get access to the amenities at the Huntley Lodge, just a few minutes away. They have a swimming pool, more hot tubs and also a fitness center.

The Skiing

But of course, you don’t come to Big Sky to stay indoors! Here it’s all about getting outside and enjoying all the great winter activities the resort has to offer.

Skiing and snowboarding are, of course, the stars of the show here. We rented our skis, poles, helmets and boots from Big Sky Sports Rentals, which was conveniently located in the same building as our condo.

Photo: Jonathan Stone

Big Sky has a fantastic school that offers skiing and snowboarding lessons for all ages, even as young as 3. This is actually our second visit to Big Sky. The last time we were here, it was the winter right before the pandemic started. That time, Serge and I took private lessons with Curt, who was fantastic, and we were fortunate enough to be able to work with him again this time around! The girls worked with Dan, and they really enjoyed their lessons with him. He had them skiing down the big-girl runs in no time at all!

Serge and I are still beginner skiers, while the girls I would say are starting to move into intermediate territory. But none of us have skied since Covid, so we were definitely rusty, and we took it easy on this first ski trip back. We started by getting lots of practice on the carpet, and then we took the Explorer lift to try our first run!

From our photos, you may have noticed that Big Sky is not exactly looking like the winter wonderland it was the last time we were here. And that’s because it was about 20 degrees warmer than it typically is this time of year. Yes, we were definitely there early in the season, but usually by Thanksgiving there’s snow on the ground at Big Sky, and that definitely wasn’t the case when we were here the first week of December. It was even too warm for the resort to use the snowmaking machines.

We certainly didn’t mind the comfortable temperatures, but the main downside for us as beginner skiers is that there wasn’t enough snow on the easier runs. So while last time we went down White Wing, which is a pretty easy run for beginners to practice on. This time our only option was Lone Wolf, which is still a green run, but starts with a significantly steeper drop than White Wing.

Swift Current 6

One new thing that a lot of skiers are excited about this season at Big Sky is a new lift called Swift Current 6. It’s currently America’s fastest 6-place chairlift.

big sky
Photo: Jonathan Stone

Big Sky has done some really fun things marketing-wise to roll this out. Not only do they have a whole merch line to promote the new lift, but they even partnered with local Bozeman brewery MAP Brewing Company to create a custom beer just to celebrate the lift’s opening!

Other Winter Activities

Even if you don’t love skiing or snowboarding, there’s a ton to do in Big Sky in the winter. Lone Mountain Ranch is a partner of Big Sky, and they offer a variety of activities that are fun for families. On this trip, we took a wagon ride in the snow.  And last time we were at Big Sky, we came to Lone Mountain Ranch to try some snowshoeing!

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

Dog-sledding is another experience we tried last time we were in Big Sky. One thing that’s amazing is that the dogs are so excited and hyper and loud before it all starts, but as soon as they’re hooked up to the sleds and start running, they go completely silent.

Another fun activity is to have dinner in a yurt, also something we did last time. Even getting there is cool, because you take a huge snowcat up to the mountain. The inside of the yurt is lit by candles and warmed by a wood stove, and there’s live acoustic guitar music. Outside, you can go sledding, warm up by the campfire, and gaze at the stars.

Yellowstone National Park

But one of the biggest reasons to come to Big Sky is that it’s located right next to Yellowstone National Park. Last time we were here, we did a full-day snowmobiling tour of Yellowstone, and it was absolutely spectacular. National parks are often incredibly crowded in the summer, but in the winter, we had the whole thing to ourselves.

It was amazing to see geysers like Old Faithful spouting in the middle of the pristine snow. There are lots of geothermal areas in Yellowstone, which basically means there’s all kinds of bubbly, hot stuff around. I’m sure these areas are cool to see in the summer too, but in the winter it’s incredibly striking to see how intense heat and intense cold can co-exist in one place. Some parts of the landscape really felt like we were on Mars, with the strange bacteria, gurgling geysers and red mud!

So definitely add a tour of Yellowstone to your list of winter activities to try in Big Sky. If you don’t think you can handle snowmobiling, you can also do it by snowcoach.

The Dining

When it comes to dining, Big Sky has a lot of options. Let’s talk about your options at the base first.

Hungry Moose is a grocery store that’s a great place to grab a to-go breakfast. Montana Jack is the place to go if you want to enjoy a good burger after a day on the slopes. Vista Hall is a food hall with a variety of options, everything from pizza to sandwiches to tacos. Peaks Restaurant is located inside the Summit Hotel. They’re primarily a steakhouse, but on our last visit to Big Sky we tried out their breakfast buffet.

Westward Social is one of the newer restaurants here, and they offer craft cocktails and elevated comfort food. We particularly liked the sliders, the steak tartare, and the bouillabaisse. Just make sure they bring you extra bread so you can sop up all that good sauce!

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

So those are your options right at the base. But if you’re up for going a little further, you’ll find some more great restaurants. Horn & Cantle at Lone Mountain Ranch is a great restaurant you should try. It’s in a log cabin, with lots of Western decor touches like cowboy boots, saddles and mounted heads. On this trip, we came here for a buffet lunch, which was great. But on our last trip, we had dinner here, which was excellent.

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

Down in the Big Sky Town Center, you’ll find some good options for Asian food. Niseko is a ramen shop and it’s one of the newest restaurants at Big Sky. They have some fun cocktails that incorporate Japanese ingredients like sake, matcha and yuzu. The girls loved the pork belly bao so much that they asked for another order before they’d finished the first one! Niseko offers a variety of ramen flavors, everything from miso and shoyu to curry and spicy soups. No matter what your preference is when it comes to ramen, you should find an option you like here. Blue Buddha Sushi is also located in the town center, and most people come here for the specialty sushi rolls.

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

Big Sky is not an all-inclusive resort, so how much you’ll spend on food will of course vary depending on exactly what types of dishes and drinks you order and the size of your party. If you’d like to estimate food costs before you go, all the restaurant menus are available online.

Pricing at Big Sky can vary a lot, depending on what type of accommodations you’re booking, how many people there are in your party, and what time of year you’re going.
So I always recommend that you start your planning process by going directly to the resort’s website and plugging in some dates to see what the price ranges are looking like.
You can either book directly with the property, or if there’s a travel advisor or travel agent you already work with, they can help too.

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

About Carmen Sognonvi

Carmen Sognonvi is a luxury family travel content creator at Top Flight Family, named a top 10 family travel Instagram account by Time Out New York and Brit + Co. Her insights on travel have been featured in The Washington Post, INSIDER, Huffington Post, Wanderlust Travel Magazine, TravelPulse, HOTELS Magazine, and more. Carmen firmly believes that you can (and should) travel with your kids from a young age. She offers families practical solutions for travel, as well as tips on how to travel in luxury for less. She lives in New York City with her multiracial and multicultural family of four. Follow her on Instagram, FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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Looking for a family-friendly ski resort that offers more than just fun on the slopes? Then you have to check out Big Sky!

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