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Big Sky Ski Resort Profile and Review
Review: Sometimes what makes a great family resort is that feeling that you have mountain all to yourself. One of my favorite moments at Big Sky Resort in Montana came while riding a chairlift with a local. We had skied to the front of the lift line in seconds, perhaps waiting for one or two other pairs to be seated before it was our turn. As we began riding, she turned to me and said "you usually don't see lift lines like this around here."

Small crowds are a great way to describe Big Sky, situated about an hour south of Bozeman, Montana and just west of the West entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Big Sky, which recently joined forces with nearby Moonlight Basin (they share difference faces of the same mountain range) now offers the most terrain of any North American resort thanks to the ability to ski both resorts (connected by common chairlifts) with one ticket.

Big sky has an excellent mix of terrain. When looking at the mountain from the base, Andesite Mountain to your left offers three high-speed quads and lots of easy and intermediate terrain. The lifts are short and fast, so you can get lots of runs in if you are looking for a little variety. Looking straight ahead, the longer Swift Current high-speed quad will take you up the heart of the mountain, offering several intermediate or beginner runs to get down, and can also provide the gateway to much more challenging terrain and the tram on the famed Lone Peak. You can also use Swift Current to make your way over to the long and easy beginner runs on your right, or you can take smaller lifts to access them. The Morning Star and Mr. K green runs allow long and easy runs for the entire family.

For serious skiers, be sure to ski the bowls on the front or the back of Lone Peak. For best conditions, get to them earlier in the day before they fall into the sun's shadows. Also, the tram which takes advanced skiers to the top of Lone Peak can also be ridden up and down for pure sightseeing. From the top of Lone Peak on a clear day, one can see the Tetons in Wyoming. Be aware that to get back down from the tram base, you'll need to be able to ski on some groomed blue terrain.

The kids programming at Big Sky is excellent, all taking place near the base of the Swift Current lift. Parents can choose from half day or full day lessons, and can usually make their choice on the day-of instead of booking far in advance. The Lone Peak Playhouse child care area is staffed by professional and caring individuals, and works in conjunction with the ski school for lesson/child care combos if desired. The child care can fill up, so reservations are recommended.

Lodging in Big Sky comes in two flavors: Ski base lodging near the Mountain Village, or commuter-style lodging about 5-10 minutes away at The Meadows area. The Mountain Village is geared toward the ski season, with lots of ski-in, ski-out accommodations and the legendary Huntley Lodge hotel. The Meadows, on the other hand, is more of a year-round village, with a mix of condos and single-family homes. The Meadows also provides access to additional restaurants, which can be nice after getting your fill of the ski mountain cuisine for a couple days. If you have people in your party who may want to stop skiing after a couple hours and return back out in the afternoon, you might want to stick with the more convenient Mountain Village. If you are content with a brief drive to and from the mountain each day, however, you just might find better value in The Meadows.

Getting to Big Sky via air is best done through the Bozeman airport.. The commute from Bozeman to Big Sky will take about an hour, but will be a scenic drive along the Gallatin River, complete with herds of bighorn sheep and gorgeous views of Yellowstone National Park. If you have accommodations with a kitchen, you may want to stop at the Smiths or Albertsons grocery store before leaving Bozeman, as they will provide more selection and better prices than what you'll find near Big Sky.

While we doubt you'll need any type of break from Big Sky or Moonlight Basin, don't forget about the locals' mountain, Bridger Bowl, near Bozeman. Whichever way you choose, you'll love the skiing, the scenery, and the people in this part of Montana.

Terrain / Highest Elevation / Vertical Drop: 3,800 acres / 11.200 feet / 4,350 feet

Activities for Non-Skiers: Big Sky is located driving distance from a bunch of great sights. The West entrance of Yellowstone is just 20 miles away, and can provide for a great diversion if you need to take a day off from skiing. The town of Bozeman is 45 minutes away, and while being a medium-sized college town, it doubles as a decent place to shop and try some different dining. The Big Sky area itself is composed of a couple resorts -- Big Sky and Moonlight Basin -- and also has more of a traditional town area at the nearby Meadows, just 5 miles from the lifts.

Ski School: Big Sky has been very innovative with their ski school pricing, and we commend them for it. They offer a la carte pricing -- your child can attend for as little as two hours or as long as the full day, and the price will vary from $67 to $142, depending on how many modules you choose. They also offer a “Mommy and Me” program, a 2 hour program which teaches the parent, the child and goes the extra mile of teaching the parent how to ski with the child. It isn’t cheap at $270, but might be good for a parent skiing the big slopes with their child for the first time.

Day Care: Children 6 months to 8 years old can spend time in the daycare, located very close to the ski school area. Combo days of daycare / ski school are also available.

Getting there: The Bozeman airport is an easy (assuming no storms) 45 drive from Big Sky, and you can find good jet service there from many major cities. Northwest, Delta, United, and Alaska all fly to Bozeman from their major hubs. This drive from the Bozeman airport to Big Sky is one of the prettier ski area drives that you will find, anywhere.

Insider Tip: This is a ski town where you might want to rent a car. Besides the drive to/from the airport, you’ll open up your dining and shopping options if you have a set of wheels – mass transit is limited and the Meadows area about 5 miles from the resort is getting more and more restaurants and amenities. Plus, many of the more economical places to stay are in the Meadows, so renting a car may allow you to recoup the cost on lodging savings.