June 28, 2005
BIG SKY, Mont. - Two Montana ski resorts are pooling resources to form one of North America's largest interconnected trail networks: Big Sky Resort, the famed Montana ski resort envisioned in the '60s by TV news legend Chet Huntley, and Moonlight Basin, which made headlines two years ago when it became the first new destination ski area to open in the U.S. in more than 20 years.
The two resorts share the same mountain — Lone Peak, roughly an hour from Bozeman. The resorts even shared several trails and a lift in the past. But previously, it was necessary to purchase a ticket or season pass from each if you wanted to ski them both.
This year, skiers and snowboarders have the option to purchase tickets and passes allowing unlimited access to both resorts.
The combined pass provides lift access to hundreds of acres of stunning summit snowfields that were previously accessible only by hiking. Combined, the two trail networks offer nearly 5,300 acres (2,145 hectares) of skiable terrain and the second-biggest vertical descent in the US, at 4,350' (1,326 meters). Between them, the two resorts operate 23 lifts.
The interconnect is the result of ongoing discussions between Stephen Kircher, a principal of Boyne USA Resorts, owner of Big Sky Resort, and Moonlight Basin partners Lee Poole, Joe Vujovich and Keith Brown.
"This region is the last great major ski destination in the U.S., said Taylor Middleton, general manager of Big Sky Resort. "By offering joint ticket products, Big Sky and Moonlight Basin will offer what may well prove to be the largest amount of skiable terrain in the nation. And given that we have famously low skier density, the expanded trail network will provide even more elbow room for our guests."
Burt Mills, CEO at Moonlight Basin, called the new program "a milestone in American skiing. What we're doing is closer to the European model, where adjacent resorts interconnect with a lift ticket that permits skiers to access everything. Moonlight and Big Sky will offer a ski experience larger than many European resorts, and offer one of the most dynamic assortments of terrain in the world.
Joint lift tickets are a rarity in the United States. Only two other pairs of resorts — both in Utah - offer interconnected lift and trail networks and joint ticket products while maintaining separate ownership.
Middleton and Mills stressed that Big Sky and Moonlight Basin would maintain their separate brand identities and unique characters.
Pricing for interchangeable lift tickets and season passes will be released at a later date."The interconnection unleashes access to some of the world's best ski terrain and bountiful powder, Middleton said. "And it's all located less than an hour from a major airport. We think it's a terrific combination.