We just recently got back from Big Sky and thought it’d be fun to share what we thought of the travel, accommodations and of course the mountain.
This was actually one of the easiest and “cheapest” travel destinations we have been to. A few weeks prior we booked our flights out of John Wayne Airport, only $270!!!! What a steal! We left after work on a Thursday <– this may be our new thing, only had to take one day off but it felt longer since we had ALL day Friday!
If you have ever tried to fly in to Montana from Southern California, you know there are no direct flights. So we arrived around midnight, Brrr! We booked a night in Bozeman, knowing we would be exhausted, and stayed at a Best Western about 15 min from the Airport. They had a free shuttle that picked us up! #winning! The guy driving was super nice and even offered to drive us across the street the next morning to catch the shuttle to Big Sky. Umm YES PLEASE!
Woke up the next morning and well it honestly felt like we hadn’t slept. Running on only a few hours of not so great sleep we took the driver up on his offer and got dropped off at the bus stop in a Walmart parking lot. We could have walked, but with all of our gear it was super nice not to have to. He even waited until to shuttle arrived before dropping us off so we didn’t have to wait in that good ‘ol Montana cold.
Last ones on the shuttle and guess what, the driver only carries exact change. We needed $10, but only had a $20… wah wah wah. A lady on the shuttle offered to pay for Nick, then I got on. She paid for me too!!!!! Faith in humanity restored. We tried to give her the $20, but she refused and was even nice enough to help us find our hotel when we arrived in Big Sky. The shuttle ride was about an hour, quite easy when you are tired.
We did our best to look for an Airbnb, however we ended up staying at The Lodge at Big Sky. I will say the pictures online and the demeanor of the young man who answered the phone, made it seem like this place was a dump. It was in walking distance to the lifts and was the cheapest for the location, so we booked it anyways. To our surprise, when we arrived the place was actually quite nice. It was easily one of the biggest rooms we have EVER had when traveling. Vaulted ceilings and plenty of room to walk around and to store our gear out of the way. Felt like an upgrade.
There was free breakfast, coffee all day #winning, and a small bar at night. The best part though was the location and the shuttle. It was about 1/4 mile walk from the lifts, but first thing in the morning, in that Montana cold, yes I will look lazy and take the shuttle!
Friday was a long day. Started around 5:00am, got on the shuttle around 6am, and arrived to the hotel at the base of Big Sky around 7:30am. Our room wasn’t quite ready so we geared up in the lobby #classy, stored our luggage, and headed up for some fun!
Big Sky, if you are reading this, I AM IMPRESSED! What a mountain! We caught some of the firsts lifts up and every run throughout the day we were still hitting fresh tracks! Our local mountains just don’t offer that.
Big Sky | Day 1
On Friday, our main goal was just to explore the mountain. We stayed mostly on the left hand side, yes we got to ride the new Ramcharger lift. It seats 8, has heated seats, and an automated shield to protect your from the cold, windy weather. It’s tough to come back to our local mountains and suffer with the barely padded, metal lifts, no cover, no heat, no love! What is life without futuristic chairlifts?!
The groomed runs were wide, with plenty of room to take sweeping turns, or race your buddy to the bottom. A green circle in Montana is definitely a Blue Square in Southern California. But not knowing the mountain we almost got stuck on a few catwalk sections. Nick hates unstrapping, so really glad we were able to ride through it.
We did a few runs, then eventually made our way over to the Lone Peak Tram. Board off, we stood in a line for about 20 minutes. It’s one up and one down. As you’re in line you can look back at the top, chutes on either side, doesn’t look like there’s an intermediate way down. There’s a sign before you head up the stairs “Experts Only”, “Avalanche Warning”, “No easy way down”. At our home mountain, I would have been fine. I’m familiar with the terrain, familiar with the snow/mountain in different weather conditions. But all this waiting and signage starts to get in your head.
We all piled in and with my luck we had someone from ski patrol join our group. He’s talking about the conditions and as we are all about to get off, he yells “The easiest way down in back on tram”. Well that didn’t help my nerves. We took quite a few pictures at the top, signed the log book, and all this hype comes down to me jumping right back on that tram. I enjoyed the scenic ride and Nick made his way down Liberty Bowl.
We ended our day on the mountain with a few drinks at the Summit at Big Sky bar. Side note, when we tried to pay, the waiter told us they didn’t have change for our bill (we were paying in cash). Who and what restaurant doesn’t have cash?! Sneaky way to get a larger tip if you ask me. Overall the drinks and the meal was good and it had a nice view of the mountain and zipline.
Big Sky | Day 2
On Saturday we wanted to focus on the right side of the mountain. There was still so much we hadn’t seen. I wanted to get over to a run called Horseshoe, it’s a long run that wraps around the entire right side of the mountain. To get to it from the base, you have to stay high. If you drop down you’ll end up at a split where you can either take a lift (Challenger) up with only Black Diamond runs down, or you can take the catwalk section to another lower lift.
Remember how I said Nick hates catwalks, well….. you can guess what route we took. If you guessed Challenger, then you guessed correctly, what I do for love! I’d say Challenger is a fitting name for this lift, to even get to the runs you have to navigate a whoopty curvy section, which I suck at. Then you get to a run that felt like it was literally STRAIGHT DOWN. Thank you Nick! I made it through the whoopties and just kept myself slow. There wasn’t a ton of coverage so I just took my time and enjoyed the view. I look back now and can say I did a Montana Black Diamond at Big Sky. I think I need a shirt!
We eventually made it over to Horseshoe, and on our way back Nick got to explore the park. On one of our last runs, we decided to take a short cut to the main park area, this run was called Ninja. Again, named appropriately! It was like a BMX run but squished into a much smaller area. Lots of tight turns, humps, and well it would be fun if you knew what to expect. Needless to say, I’m no ninja! After “conquering” Ninja, we made our way up for a few more runs, then called it a day!
Big Sky | Summary
That’s the beauty of all of this though, right, the adventure. Exploring new places, pushing yourself and each other out of your comfort zone, and at the the end of the day enjoying the company in nature.
If you enjoy snowboarding and are looking to explore a new mountain, I would definitely suggest Big Sky. There’s a little bit of terrain for everyone, and you simply can’t beat the views. Make sure you go during peak winter season though, as the mountain can be a bit rocky in early and late season.