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Northern Rockies

Destination Guide: Where to Sleep, Eat, Drink, and Play in Big Sky

From lodging and dining to nightlife and off-slope adventures, a ski traveler's guide to planning a trip to Montana's adventure mecca.

From the 2021 Resort Guide: No. 22 in the West, Big Sky Resort, Mont.

Long known for incredibly diverse and expansive skiing (No. 1, Terrain), and cold, dry powder (No. 11, Snow), Big Sky Resort has always been a skiers’ mountain. With 5,850 acres to explore and runs dropping up to 4,100 vertical feet from the dramatic summit of Lone Peak (11,166 ft.), that fact certainly hasn’t changed. Couloirs, snowfields, gullies, and bowls keep even the best skiers engaged (Challenge, No. 4), while long, family-friendly groomers, Plake-worthy bumps, and eight terrain parks provide something for everyone—and terrific views, too (Grooming, No. 13, Scenery No. 14). 

New for Next Season: Big Sky’s New Tram Policy Aims to Control Crowds, But It Will Cost You

Once harangued for having aging and unreliable lifts and a dearth of off-mountain activities, Big Sky’s ongoing capital improvements include a growing fleet of high-speed, high-capacity lifts with heated seats and protective bubbles (including North America’s only eight-passenger chairlift; Lifts, No. 4), a recently revamped base village, and rapidly growing lodging and dining options. It’s still Montana, however, so don’t expect too much of a club scene—unless you like partying with taxidermy moose. —Drew Pogge

Big Sky Stats

  • Skiable acres: 5,750
  • Trails: 317
  • Summit Elevation (feet): 11,166
  • Lifts: 36
  • Vertical Drop (feet): 4350

Where to Stay in Big Sky

Summit At Big Sky

Summit at Big Sky
Photo: Courtesy of Big Sky Resort

If you really want to think big, consider Summit At Big Sky, which claims to have hosted past presidents and other noteworthy types. This cushy full-service European-style hotel is a mere 100 yards from the lifts, combining penthouse living with slopeside convenience. The rooms come in a wide variety of configurations based on your needs, from a standard studio to a three-bedroom condominium to—if you’re feeling presidential—a four-bedroom penthouse suite. 

Cowboy Heaven Cabins

These log cabins are for the modern-minded cowboys who want a taste of old Montana rusticity without sacrificing any creature comforts. Drink in the panoramic views from your private porch-front hot tub and then retreat to your warm cabin with a full kitchen and dining area. You won’t exactly be roughing it. Expect to have to rent a car—these cabins are a little out of the way.

Stillwater Condominiums

For those on a budget, Stillwater should be on your list. Located in the Slopeside Mountain Village, these condos are only a five-minute walk to the lifts and provide free parking and access to the Huntley Lodge pool, hot tubs, and fitness center. You won’t have to choose between your wallet and your amenities.

Lone Mountain Ranch B&B

Lone Mountain Ranch Big Sky
Photo: Courtesy of Lone Mountain Ranch

If you’re looking to experience the spirit of the Old West you might want to consider Lone Mountain Ranch. With plenty of activities for the whole family—horseback riding, Yellowstone tours, traditional saloon music—Lone Mountain also offers daily breakfast at the award-winning in-house Horn & Cantel restaurant. Choose from one of their rustic cabins, each with a unique layout ranging from intimate studios to 6 bedroom mansions, and most come with a real wood fire stove.

Where To Eat in Big Sky

Horn and Cantel Big Sky
Horn & Cantel, at Lone Mountain Ranch, serves tasty Western cuisine in a complementary setting. Photo: Courtesy of Lone Mountain Ranch
  • Horn & Cantel: If anyone ever had doubts that Montana cuisine is fit for fine-dining aficionados, one evening at Horn & Cantel will set them straight. Rustic elegance is a pairing they take seriously, and that is reflected in the ambience and the menu. Guests can choose from elk Bolognese, wild mushroom tacos, trout fillets, and other locally inspired and sourced dishes.
  • The Hungry Moose Market & Deli: Much like Lone Peak, the Hungry Moose is a Big Sky icon. Stock up on essentials—snacks, craft beer, hand warmers—or swing by for a sandwich and soup to-go. Perfect for busy mornings or a midday refuel, the Moose is located in the base village and at a secondary location downtown.
  • Everett’s 8800: What happens when you combine ski-in/ski-out convenience with fine dining? You get an elegant bistro 8,800 feet above sea level where you can kick back in your ski boots and no one blinks an eye. Located at the top of the Thunder Wolf and Ram Charger high-speed quads, come for epic views of Lone Peak as well as the tasty cuisine.

Where to Après in Big Sky

Scissorbills Big Sky
Casual and cheery Scissorbills is an après-magnet. Photo: Courtesy of Scissorbills
  • Scissorbills Saloon: Mere steps from the Mountain Village, Scissorbills is an institution loved by tourists and locals alike. Après skiers come here for a relaxed atmosphere, equal parts family-friendly and dive bar. Enjoy better-than-average bar food, generous portions, and perhaps one or three rounds with the shot ski.
  • Lone Peak Brewery: The Lone Peak Brewery is perfect for kicking back and drinking good beer with friends after a day shredding the mountain. Be sure to order a flight—five 4-ounce glasses are served from a vintage ski. 
  • Montana Jack: Ski right up to Montana Jack at the Base Village for a casual beer and an excellent burger. Be sure to stop in on Tuesdays and Thursdays for live music—cover bands, bluegrass, country—and on Saturday nights to get your groove on with a live DJ. 

Must Do Activities in Big Sky

Dog Sledding Big Sky
  • Dog Sledding: What do you get when you combine pups, mountain scenery, and an adrenaline rush? Dog sledding. Try your hand at mushing or just sit back and enjoy the ride as you’re tugged along the snowscape by a trained team of Alaskan huskies. There are several companies throughout the Big Sky, including Spirit of the North, which runs trips through Moonlight Basin, convenient to Big Sky guests.
  • Yellowstone National Park: The West entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is only an hour drive from Big Sky and we promise it’s worth taking the day off for. Old Faithful and bison are guaranteed, but if you’re lucky you just might see elk and other wildlife. Choose from the many accredited snowcoach tours and join the ongoing debate on which is better: treads or snow tires?
  • Warren Miller Performing Arts Center: For a little theater in Montana, the WMPAC—named after the skiing icon and filmmaker—brings in a surprising caliber of performers. Get cultured with a performance of Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, TEDx events, acrobatics, or a classical ballet performance of The Nutcracker.