The formula is familiar in America: mainly steep open slopes at the top, and gentler wooded slopes lower down. There are free mountain tours. Recent visitors complain of poor signposting, especially for some black runs and gladed blues, and inconsistent trail classification.

Extent of the slopes

Yes, it is big – in terms of piste extent, just outside the top ten areas in the world, and over 7km from end to end. Lone Mountain provides the resort’s poster shot, with some seriously steep upper slopes. From Mountain Village a fast quad goes to mid-mountain. From there you can get to the Lone Peak triple chair, which takes you up to the Lone Peak Tram – two 15-person gondola cabins, operated as if they were a cable car. This leads to the top and fabulous 360° views.

The Dakota triple chairlift serves Lone’s south face and its steep bowls and glades. But a couple of reporters have found the area prone to closure due to avalanche risk. Lone Mountain’s lower slopes are wooded and varied, as are those of Andesite Mountain, which has less vertical but three of the five fast lifts, including one from Mountain Village. At the bottom of Andesite’s Southern Comfort chair is one of the two chairs on the very limited slopes of recently acquired Spirit Mountain, formerly Spanish Peaks. (On another flank of Andesite is part of the famously exclusive private resort, the Yellowstone Club.)

From various points on Lone Mountain you can head down to the Moonlight Basin slopes, which start with a slow chair from Moonlight Lodge. Runs from the top of that lead to the Six Shooter fast chair, from the Madison base area, which, together with the slow Lone Tree quad, serves nearly all Moonlight’s wooded, largely easy intermediate terrain. The Headwaters double chair at the top serves expert-only runs.

Fast lifts

There are five fast quad chairs, but many of the chairs are still old triples and doubles.


The tiny Tram naturally builds serious queues on powder days and in peak season; but at least that means you don’t get crowds on the top runs. Queues are rare otherwise: ‘Even on a Saturday morning powder day, the most we stood in line was two minutes,’ said one visitor. ‘Queues non-existent,’ said a March 2015 reporter, ‘except for the Tram.’

Terrain parks

Swifty Park on Lone Peak suits advanced riders; there are also an intermediate park, Swifty 2.0, near the village, and a beginner park by the Explorer chair. There are two natural half-pipes. The Moonlight slopes have the Zero Gravity park, and a beginner park near the base.

Snow reliability

Snowfall averages 400 inches – more than most resorts in Colorado. Grooming is ‘exceptional’ too.

For experts

All of the terrain accessed from the Tram is classified black – single- or double-diamond. The steepest runs are the Big Couloir on the Big Sky side and the North Summit Snowfield on the Moonlight side. Take local advice on equipment and guidance.

There are easier ways down, though – Liberty Bowl is easiest. Marx and Lenin are a little steeper. The Dakota Territory has 212 acres of black-diamond glades, chutes and high bowls, to skier’s right of Liberty Bowl – served by a triple chairlift. Lower down, the Lone Peak triple, Challenger and Shedhorn chairs also serve good steep terrain.

There are some excellent gladed runs, especially on Andesite (and more are being created). In the Moonlight sector the Headwaters is the biggest challenge – but it gets windblown and you may have to pick your way through rocks at the top. The further you hike to skier’s left the steeper the couloirs. There are some good gladed runs lower down.

For intermediates

The bulk of the terrain is of intermediate difficulty (including lots of easy blacks). The main complaint we have is that they don’t seem to groom any blacks – with no traffic, they would be fabulous when groomed. But there is lots of excellent cruising on empty blue runs served by fast chairs: Ramcharger, Southern Comfort and Thunder Wolf on Andesite, Swift Current on Lone Mountain, and Six Shooter in the Moonlight sector. Several wide, gentle bowls offer a good introduction to off-piste. And there are some good easy glade runs, such as Singlejack at Moonlight and The Congo on Andesite. In general the groomed blues at Moonlight are easier than those on Lone, especially the ones served by the Lone Tree chair. Adventurous intermediates could try Liberty Bowl from the top of the Tram; but be prepared for a rocky, windswept traverse between wooden barriers at the top to access the run.

For beginners

There’s a good, well-developed nursery area at the base of the Explorer chair with a separate Explorer pass. There are long, deserted greens to progress to from the Explorer and Swift Current chairs, and on Andesite. The Berringer quad at the Madison base in the Moonlight sector is good, too.

For boarders

The terrain has lots of variety, with few flats. Experts will enjoy the steeps and the glades, freestylers the good terrain parks, and novices the easy cruising runs served by chairlifts.

For cross-country

There are 85km of ‘excellent’ trails at Lone Mountain Ranch (‘helpful staff’), and more at West Yellowstone.

Schools and guides

The Big Sky school has a good reputation. Visitors have praised the beginner snowboard classes: ‘Exceptionally happy with the quality of the instruction.’

For families

Lone Peak Playhouse in the slope-side Snowcrest Lodge will take kids to and from ski school. There’s a Kids’ Club in the Huntley Lodge – ‘very well run’ according to a 2014 visitor who put two kids in it.

Where to Ski and Snowboard 2016

This guide is taken from Where to Ski and Snowboard, written by Dave Watts and Chris Gill.
Click here to buy a discounted copy of the book.

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