Outdoor markets, warmly lit downtowns, cozy restaurants, cheerful locals... there is something special about American…
There’s something special about Big Sky, Montana. Now only is it one of the most beautiful ski resorts I’ve been to in the world, the town feels more like a community than a transient, seasonal town. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains and seeing over 400 inches of snow annually, it truly feels like a proper winter escape. If you plan on visiting, here are some of my favorite Big Sky winter activities.
The Best Big Sky Winter Activities
Hit the slopes!
If you’re going to go out of your way to visit Big Sky in the winter, I hope skiing is on your to-do list. There’s so much Big Sky Resort gets right about skiing, I’m still surprised it’s considered “underrated.” Picture this – 5,850 skiable acres with some of the most consistent snowfall of anywhere in the country. Furthermore, Lone Peak offers 4,350 vertical feet of terrain and 300 degrees of skiing. Not to mention they have the most technologically advanced network of lifts in the continent. Yes, that means you can find the fastest chairlift in North America here! Just look for the Swift Current 6.
Advanced skiers will find some of the most aggressive in-bounds terrain in the world while beginner and intermediate skiers can rest assured they’ll have plenty of slopes to try. After all, of those 5,850 skiable acres, 2,300 are specifically geared towards them. Plus if something does happen, rest assured Big Sky has some very adorable and very well trained four-legged rescuers on the job!
Grab a bite to eat and maybe make some friends
One of the best things about visiting Big Sky is that it feels less like a resort town and more somewhere people live year round. This means they’ve formed a tight knit yet welcoming community where local businesses can thrive. In between skiing, be sure to grab a bite in the Town Center. I personally loved eating at The Rocks Tasting Room because it offers the two things I want after a day on the slopes – booze and protein. Its owners, Ben and Kara Bodgett, opened up the restaurant after twenty years working in kitchens around town. Their menu features GMO-free and sustainable products, but the one thing you shouldn’t miss is their Vietnamese pho. Ben studied how to make first authentic pho and then a vegan version so his young, vegan daughter could eat at their restaurant. Don’t worry, there are protein options like petit bison loin or wild caught Montana white fish. As for the booze portion, The Rocks has plenty of options and there’s a liquor store as well. If you really want to get into the spirit, try the Montana Mule. Here they swap vodka for whiskey!
Hop over to Yellowstone National Park.
If you’re a national parks fan like I am, you’ll be delighted to know that the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park is only an hour from Big Sky. And while this park is pretty flooded with visitors during the warmer months, according to local Melynda Harrison, winter is quiet and the addition of snow makes the park even more magical. Imagine seeing Old Faithful or Grand Prismatic on a bright, wintry day! You can also participate in snowmobile tours or cross-country skiing tours. And, of course, if you don’t feel comfortable driving from Big Sky, there are plenty of companies that offer group tours.
Spend an Indoor Day at the Museum of the Rockies
Looking for an indoor activity? Head on over to the Museum of the Rockies (MOR). Here you can learn all about Montana’s incredible past and explore the largest dinosaur collection in all of North America. In fact, you can see one of the few mounted T-Rex statues in the country right in the Siebel Dinosaur Complex.
The museum features multiple primary exhibits including Landforms/Lifeforms, Dinosaurs Under the Big Sky, Welcome to Yellowstone Country, Enduring Peoples, and Paugh History Hall. For those with kiddos, don’t miss the interactive Explore Yellowstone exhibit in Martin Children’s Discovery Center. Additionally, MOR brings in three to five exhibits each year that focus on bringing the world to Montana.
Really, it’s such a fun museum that you could spend hours in. They actually recommend at least four! I haven’t even touched on the Planetarium, multiple events they have through the year, and, of course, their carefully curated museum store.
Try your hand at fly fishing
I know what you’re thinking, “You’re recommending Big Sky winter activities, and you’re recommending I go fly fishing?” Yes, I am! Book an experience with Gallatin River Guides and bundle up to do some fly fishing in Gallatin River. You won’t believe how meditative the experience is. Just imagine standing perfectly still in some of the purest waters in the world, your only focus on catching fish. Your surroundings are snowy and cold but breathtakingly quiet. It’s maybe you, your guide, and one other guest in the middle of nature. True bliss.
Shop for unique souvenirs
As you might guess from a thriving community, there are all sorts of small businesses where you can find unique souvenirs to bring home. Here are two of my favorites.
Ari O Jewelry
Ari O Jewelry was founded by Ariane Coleman nearly twenty years ago as a small batch artisan jewelry store. Each piece she designs is inspired by Montana’s natural beauty and is made by either her or her small team in a studio connected to her gallery. The studio is actually open and allows visitors to watch everyone at work and even ask questions. Every piece has a story behind it, and any one of her team is happy to share that story.
About an hour from Big Sky in Bozeman, Carter’s Boots is the place to get your shoes repaired in Montana. It started out as a small boot and shoe repair shop in 1994 but now also includes handmade Western-style boots and other leather goods. In a world where cheap, factory-made shoes are the norm, they’ve become renowned for their quality workmanship. You can even see on their site exactly what goes into making a quality, long lasting pair of boots and know you’re getting both a practical and unique souvenir.
Enjoy a sleigh ride
Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring ting tingling too, oh it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you…
What’s a winter trip without a romantic sleigh ride? Better yet – a romantic sleigh ride dinner? Lone Mountain Ranch offers just this from December to March! The ranch, which first started as a homestead in 1915, is situated on 148 acres in Big Sky. Bundle up in a horse-drawn sleigh and enjoy a starlit ride around the ranch’s stunning, snow-covered property. Then get dropped off at Horn & Cantle to enjoy an oil-lamp lit dinner while a cowboy singer storyteller provides endless entertainment. If you get Montana’s own musical ambassador, Bruce Anfinson, tell him I say hi! I loved listening to his songs – nearly all of which are inspired by Montana.
Truly there are endless Big Sky winter activities that’ll keep any traveler busy. Even those of you that prefer hotter climates once the temperature drops will be enchanted by Montana’s gorgeous, snowy landscapes. Enjoy the ultimate outdoor playground far away from the normal distractions of daily life. Come, slow down, and embrace the cold!
Have you been to Big Sky in the winter? Any tips or recommendations to add? Let me know below!