Big Sky, Montana

Written by Bre Humphries

Out West, ski towns can be all about the big amenities – posh
resort atmospheres with brand-name boutiques and high-dollar restaurants, all attracting tourists with big budgets. But if you’re an avid skier here in Atlanta, all you really want on your all-too-rare trip to Western skies is big skiing.

Big Sky, Mont., takes you back to the basics. A ski town in its purest form, the slopes are truly the top priority at this powder-covered paradise. Touted as “The Biggest Skiing in America,” Big Sky and neighboring Moonlight Basin offer skiers and boarders a total of 5,500 skiable acres when you spring for the combo ticket, but Big Sky alone features 3,812 acres with 150 named runs across 85 miles on three separate mountains, making for some of the most diverse skiing available at a single resort.

Skiers and boarders of all levels can find terrain to tempt their
appetites here, meaning I could enjoy plenty of intermediate skiing on wide, groomed blue slopes while my husband, a more adventurous snowboarder, ventured onto the steeper slopes covered in fresh powder through the trees. At an elevation of 11,166 feet, Lone Peak provides thrilling downhill rides for the most extreme athletes, plus breathtaking views of the Teton mountain range on a clear day. Luckily for me, the tram also takes you back down, safe and sound, so you can enjoy the striking scenery without risking your life on the vertical slopes.

Don’t get me wrong, this low-key ski resort offers it’s fair share of desirable amenities, too. Comfortable lodging at a variety of condos and cabins in the mountain village provides easy access to the lifts, and our suite in the Summit Hotel even afforded us a front-row view of the action on the slopes. You certainly won’t go hungry with 17 different restaurants within walking distance ranging from Southwest cuisine at Whiskey Jack’s to Tuscan treats at Andiamo’s Italian Grille to fine dining with a new Western flair at Peaks Restaurant. The après ski scene is laid back, a perfect ending to a day on the slopes, with live entertainment in several of the lounges and even a friendly poker game a Chet’s Bar & Grill.

There are plenty of additional activities for outdoor fun, like zip lines that make you feel like you’re soaring over the slopes, day trips to Yellowstone National Park, and the relaxing Solace Spa when it’s time to soothe your muscles. What’s missing here is any sense of pretension, replaced, thank goodness, by a casual vibe and a sense that everyone here, even visitors like ourselves, could be local ski bums, living for the powder days without a care in the world, even if it’s just for a few days.

And at the center of it all is the heartbeat of the Wild West, a common thread running through the mountain village in everything from elk chandeliers in the lodge lobbies and cow hide bar stools at even the nicest restaurants to wild game permeating the menus at most of the dining establishments. (Try the bison quesadillas at Whiskey Jack’s – delicious!) This is, after all, Montana, where ranching runs the economy, dude ranches and corrals dot the landscape, roads follow the paths of rivers teeming with trout and wildlife like elk, moose and bison are never far away.

Big Sky Resort