Moonlight Basin

By 2010, Moonlight plans to lower its base by a quarter mile, giving the mountain more vertical than Big Sky.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
Headwaters Grille at Moonlight Basin will be preparing a special Valentine's Day dinner for you and your sweetheart. Call the Mountain Concierge at (406) 995-7716 for reservations.Photo Courtesy of Moonlight Basin

Headwaters Grille at Moonlight Basin will be preparing a special Valentine's Day dinner for you and your sweetheart. Call the Mountain Concierge at (406) 995-7716 for reservations.
Photo Courtesy of Moonlight Basin

One of the younger ski resorts in the country, Moonlight Basin opened on the north side of Montana’s Lone Mountain (Big Sky occupies the eastern side) in 2003. Locals considered the area the stepchild of Big Sky until 2005, when the two resorts finally made nice and announced a joint lift-ticket program ($89 for the combined ticket; $51 for Moonlight only) that offered access to seriously rowdy terrain like the North Summit Snowfield and Headwaters. By 2010, Moonlight plans to lower its base by a quarter mile, giving the mountain more vertical than Big Sky.

POWDER DAY: On far skier’s left of Headwaters, attempt the 53-degree Three Forks on a powder day—the chutes are only about six feet wide and ordinarily scraped bulletproof.

THREE DAYS LATER: Upslope wind-loading keeps shady Headwaters chalky long after a storm. When you’ve had enough steeps, head for the thick glades off the Lone Tree lift, like Broken Heart and Shaftway.
PARK AND PIPE: Because Moonlight abstains from snowmaking, the kickers in the Zero Gravity Terrain Park only get big midwinter. Early season, jibbers focus on the park’s 50 rails and boxes.

BACKCOUNTRY ACCESS: Of the two backcountry gates into the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, pick the one off the summit of Lone Mountain for steep lines and easy return access. Traverse back to the base from locals’ favorites like Mullet and Hair Piece. Check forecasts at mtavalanche.com.

WEATHER: With a summit elevation of 11,150 feet, Moonlight receives light, cold snow—usually in a rapid-fire succession of six-inch storms. The mountain rarely gets hammered by more than two feet, but the wind-loading can make six inches feel like 16. Go in January to experience midseason snowpack.

APRÈS: Ski right to the deck of the Headwaters Grille in Madison Lodge and order nachos and a pint of malty Bozone Amber Ale, brewed in nearby Bozeman.

FUEL: The Border Café in the Pony Express Lodge serves up a greasy breakfast wrap chased with jet-fuel coffee from Bozeman’s Liquid Planet. Or try the egg, bacon, and cheese burrito in Headwaters Grille.

UP ALL NIGHT: Moonlight’s party scene lacks energy, so head over to neighboring Big Sky. Locals enjoy the dark and gloomy Black Bear Bar and Grill. Partyers prefer Bambu Bar and Asian Bistro, a sushi joint where dinner flows naturally into a get-down scene that goes till 2 A.M.

Digs: Stay slopeside at Moonlight by checking into one of the Cowboy Heaven Cabins with views of the Spanish Peaks (from $200 per night; moonlightbasin.com). —Grayson Schaffer

Related

Size Matters thumb

Size Matters

Big Sky, Montana, is out to prove that, like girlfriends, other resorts are lying if they tell you otherwise.

Subaru Freeride Series World Qualifer: Big Sky, Montana - Tucker Vest - Photo by M. Epstein/SubaruFreerideSeries.com

A Freeride Rookie Finds Her Line

Tucker Vest Burton takes us through the Subaru Freeride World Qualifier course in Big Sky, Montana.

discrete in montana

Team Discrete's Montana Adventure

The magical and daring journey of a merry band of skiers through Big Sky Country.

Turner Mountain, Montana

Private Powder

There’s no such thing as a secret stash anymore. So how do you keep your line fresh? Own it. It’s only $2,500 a day. You can do this at Turner Mountain.

Lost Trail 2011

Lost Trail Powder Mountain

Glades, cliffs, and pillow lines on the Idaho-Montana border.