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Big Sky Brings the Big Winter Fun

BY: Jill K. Robinson | DECEMBER 15, 2022

For uncrowded slopes, laid-back mountaintop meals, and a little Wild West-inspired shopping, head to Montana.

Montana’s Big Sky Resort has long lured devoted skiers and riders to its rolling groomers, extensive glades, and hard-core chutes, but it still exudes a refreshing, under-the-radar appeal. Plenty of wide-open spaces await: From Mountain Village to the top of Lone Peak (elevation 11,166 feet), Big Sky Resort’s sprawling terrain encompasses 5,850 skiable acres – 2,300 of which are beginner and intermediate trails.

Big Sky is also now home to North America’s most technologically advanced lift network (translation: more skiing, less waiting in line) and, by sourcing renewable energy credits, has been carbon-free since 2021. Off the slopes, an increasingly sophisticated après-ski scene is turning the heads of travelers who’ve favored spending their seasons in Aspen or Jackson Hole.

Getting Down to Snowy Business

Big Sky’s 300 named runs are accessed by 39 lifts, giving travelers plenty of space to spread out and enjoy uncrowded trails, terrain parks, and uphill travel. (The experience has been compared to skiing among the European Alps’ interconnected resorts.) The resort’s lofty vertical rise of 4,350 feet especially appeals to those who want to keep going from first to last chair, and the view from atop Lone Peak ranges across three states and two national parks.

When the stars come out, don a powerful headlamp and ski the groomed slopes of Andesite Mountain by night. Brush up on your skills or tackle challenging terrain more confidently with lessons, guided experiences, and multiday camps and clinics designed by the Big Sky Mountain Sports School.

Swap skis for snowshoes to meander through Moose Tracks Gully, a serene, forested section of the resort that feels a world away – or follow along on a guided tour. (There’s more great snowshoeing – and big mountain vistas – at the nearby 139-room, ski-in/ski-out Montage Big Sky.) For those who prefer their winter enchantment at a faster speed, swoop down the mountain and through the gully on the resort’s nature zip line tour.

Après-Ski: Where to Eat and Drink in Big Sky

Atop Andesite Mountain, Everett’s 8800 features decadent dishes such as steak frites au poivre and schnitzel in high-alpine style. Its location offers an opportunity to catch the sunset as you ride the Ramcharger 8 lift up for dinner or stargaze on the way down.

In the village, Westward Social heads up the après scene with elevated Montana comfort food (including clam chowder with savory roasted bone marrow) and craft cocktails that amp up the cozy factor. The resort’s new Euro-style Umbrella Bar gives travelers front-row views of Lone Peak as they sip bourbon sours or local IPAs. Ride a snowcat to the Montana Dinner Yurt on the forested flanks of Lone Peak for an adventurous dining experience, complete with an alpine-inspired three-course meal, live acoustic music, and sledding in the moonlight.

At Montage Big Sky, après begins at Alpenglow, complete with glowing fireplaces, tableside raclette service, and mountain views through floor-to-ceiling windows. For dinner, head to Cortina, which offers elevated-yet-rustic traditional Italian cuisine highlighting seasonal ingredients from local farmers and producers, along with an extensive wine list.

The Best Shopping in Big Sky

Save a little free time to explore Big Sky Town Center, with its abundance of tempting shops. Gemstones, fossilized wood, and other natural materials are handcrafted into beautiful Montana mementos at Ari O Jewelry – the pieces that incorporate Montana sapphires look as if they’ve captured a small piece of the state’s bluebird sky. At The Trove West, a collection of work from more than 40 local artisans includes everything from pottery to leather goods, elk antler dog chews, and reclaimed pieces of furniture. The stylish Pique boutique at Montage Big Sky stocks an array of Montana-made products, such as custom cowboy boots from Canty Boots and handmade hats from the Montana Territory Hat Company.

Where to Stay in Big Sky

Montage Big Sky, the region’s first true five-star property, feels more like a secluded retreat than a hotel. The lodge’s decor is contemporary (think neutral tones and regional stone and wood details rather than antlers hanging everywhere) and most rooms have balconies and terraces with mountain views. Ski-in/ski-out access to Big Sky Resort and the 15-minute shuttle ride to the town center give guests easy access to Big Sky’s bounty.

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