There is a place to unwind in the American West, a sprawling ski destination in the northern Rockies that slips into T-shirts and sandals when summer arrives. Located an hour’s drive south of Bozeman, a trendy little town known for its gastropubs (microbrews, bison burgers) and the Museum of the Rockies (dinosaurs!), Big Sky Resort loomed into view after the 1992 release of A River Runs Through It, the fly-fishing classic filmed on the nearby Gallatin River. Unmatched for alpine splendor, Big Sky is dominated by Lone Mountain, a 11,166-foot, Matterhorn-like peak that pierces the sky and ranks among the tallest in the Madison Range. On a typically sunny day, the play of shadow and light on its slopes is mesmerizing.
Big Sky recently embarked on a 10-year development program that will place it alongside top-tier mountain resorts such as Aspen, Colorado; Sun Valley, Idaho; and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In addition to its massive size and rustic charm, it has one distinct advantage: The resort is only 18 miles from the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park, the oldest national park (1872) and the most active geothermal region on earth. Despite the anticipated growth, Big Sky Resort will always be a “more rawhide, less chiffon” getaway for those who crave outdoor adventures, including hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, zip line tours, rock climbing and fly-fishing on blue-ribbon trout streams. Wildlife? You’re likely to see elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep and moose.
Kids may have the best of it at Big Sky. The Ramcharger chair lift ascends from Big Sky’s village plaza to Adventure Mountain, a summertime playground where kids can try their hand at archery, bungee trampoline, disc golf and other games. Pint-sized prospectors can dump rubble into a sluice and sift for gemstones. Ramcharger also leads to Everett’s 8800, a log chalet set at 8,800 feet that features American alpine fare at its finest. (The morel mushrooms served on butter-grilled sourdough are alone worth the ride up the mountain.) Big Sky accommodations are available at multi-bedroom lodges, cabins and chalets, as well as the Summit, one of the finest slope-side hotels in the Rockies.
The Montana Experience
In conjunction with Moonlight Basin, its sister property, Big Sky’s premier three-night “Stay and Play” package features accommodations in a private residence, a day of fishing on the Madison River, a sporting clays shooting session with Moonlight Outfitters and a round of golf on The Reserve at Moonlight Basin, a spectacular new Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course that stretches 8,000 yards across the most jaw-droppingly beautiful mountain terrain in America. Package rate is $525 per person, per night based on quad occupancy.