Big Sky is phenomenal. It has always been big, but in 2013 it acquired two adjacent mountains – small but interesting Moonlight Basin and tiny Spanish Peaks – and so overtook Vail, traditional resort-size leader in the States (now put in the shade by the new Park City / Canyons link in Utah). The area totals 5,800 acres; its lifts can carry 29,000 people an hour; but typically there are only about 3,000 people on the hill. So you get about 2 acres of snow each; or, to look at it another way .... (That’s enough statistics – Ed.)

The point is, skiing Big Sky is unlike skiing anywhere else. As an experienced reporter put it last year, ‘the busiest runs would be considered empty in other resorts’. The resort has other attractions too. But if you like to amble around in the evening soaking up the mountain village atmosphere, forget it.

Big Sky is set amid the wide open spaces of Montana, one hour from Bozeman airport. The resort has been purpose-built at the foot of the slopes, and the main focus of development is Mountain Village, at the lift base. Bridger Bowl ski area is an easy day trip by car.

We like

It lives up to its name – easily bigger than Vail, though no longer the biggest in the States 
By far the quietest slopes you will find in a major resort, anywhere
Among the cheapest resorts in the US for food and drink
Excellent snow record
Some slope-side lodgings, but...

We don't like

Many condos are spread widely away from the lift base
Resort amenities are limited, with little choice of nightlife and no resort-village atmosphere
Tiny top lift accessing the most testing terrain is prone to queues
Getting there from the UK involves at least one plane change

Village charm

Mountain Village is a hotchpotch of buildings in different styles set vaguely around a traffic-free central plaza and bordered by car parks and unattractive service roads. There are a few hotels, a handful of bars, restaurants and shops, and some slope-side condos. The French-style enclosed Mountain Mall has further shops and gives access to many of these facilities. There are also cabins and condos around the Moonlight Basin lift base at Moonlight Lodge.


There is quite a bit of lodging at or close to the lift base. Some outlying condos and houses are served by lifts to the slopes, but most rely on the ‘comparatively poor’ free bus services; a car is a better idea.


Lone Mountain is Big Sky’s signature peak, its distinctive summit rising over 1,000m above the village and Andesite Mountain’s wooded slopes. From the top, there are panoramic views of Montana and Yellowstone park.

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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