Mountains have intrigued human beings and inspired imagination since the beginning of time. Mountains are where saints have met God, where Chinese masters have conquered the shadows, where Dracula escaped humanity, and where skiers, hikers, mountain bikers have found purpose. These quotes about mountains are just a small handful of my favorite, but may they inspire one to do great things. The mountains in and around Big Sky Resort inspire me daily and I'm sure these writers and adventurers would have felt the same.
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. -John Muir
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. -Edward Abbey
When we tire of well-worn ways, we seek for new. This restless craving in the souls of men spurs them to climb, and to seek the mountain view. -Ella Wheeler Wilcox
There is nothing in the world like going out onto an untouched, open, virgin mountain slope drenched under a thick blanket of new powder snow. It gives a supreme feeling of freedom, mobility. A great sense of flying, moving anywhere in a great white paradise. - Hans Gmoser
Sunset over Lone Mountain in Big Sky, Montana.
Woodward Mountain from Taylor Fork.
According to the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, Big Sky, Montana, fluctuates between about 2,000 full-time residents to 17,000 during peak seasons (the highest being Holiday week). As anyone could imagine this makes for a funny little town to live in year round, and I love it.
Right now we're in that 2,000 population range and it's a welcome time of year. I miss skiing almost every day, but the peaceful light rain on the window outside makes me feel special. Special because I might as well be the only one in the world enjoying it as I look at Lone Mountain change from snow-capped winter dream land to Evergreen summer wonderland. The earth is quiet.
My biggest challenge with these "shoulder" seasons is my new workout routine. Some Big Sky folks might say it's the change in hours of their favorite bar or restaurant, the fact that the resort is not open, or the spring muddy weather that makes the spring and fall odd, but for me, it's not being in ski shape anymore. Thus, I look to off-season activities to fill the void before summer biking, climbing, tennis, and hiking. Off-season for me means bouldering in the meadow; hiking the lower elevation trails such as Ousel Falls, Indian Ridge (just north of Big Sky), or Porcupine Trail; and playing Big Sky Resort Golf Course when it opens on May 22. Two weeks of golf before the summer season is an ideal way to enjoy the spring.
As much as I love winter and summer, every season in Big Sky brings its unique beauty and necessity. For now I will work on being content with spring, living one day at a time, and enjoying these wistful moments between the excitement of winter and summer.
Photo: Glenniss Indreland
My Montana childlike wonder makes it easy to write about all the fantastic places and activities I explored in Big Sky as a kid, but it also makes it easy to write about all the new and wonderful activities offered in Big Sky for kids today.
First of all: Basecamp to Yellowstone. Yellowstone Park was the neatest, most odd thing to 9-year-old me: Geysers, hot beds, bison, and low-lying mountains that seemed to move with every breath of the molten underbelly. But I'm getting ahead of myself, before venturing south of Big Sky, the activities right at the resort were something I would have devoured as a kid. I still love ziplining, a high ropes challenge, archery, paddleboarding, jumping on a bungee trampoline, or scaling a climbing wall. These things came after my childhood for the most part, but I was enthralled as a sixth grader of my friend's tall tale of ziplining through a forest. Now kids can zipline all the time and in so many cool places, not least of which is Big Sky Resort.
Second: Hiking. I remember taking a guided hike as a kid in Montana and being shocked that the guide could remember all the flora and fauna of the area. How did he know what flower that was? How could he tell an elk had been here? Take a hike around Big Sky for free or go on a guided hike right at Big Sky Resort.
Third: Whitewater rafting and horseback riding. One of my biggest regrets, that I may not have had full control over, was that I didn't go whitewater rafting until high school. Although it is not for the smallest children, rafting the Gallatin River is such a great kid-friendly family past time, I don't know how anyone can even pass by the rafting outfitters without booking. The same can be said for horseback riding. Not only is horseback riding classically Montana, it is also one of the most challenging and then relaxing things a kid could do. I was afraid of horses as a young girl, but once I got on horseback it was like I was meant to be there.
Big Sky, Montana, invites kids and adults into childhood. The adventures to be had are endless and unforgettable.
Photo: Glenniss Indreland
Photo: Glenniss Indreland
Longer days brings on the nostalgia for simpler times as a kid growing up in Montana. Longer days mean more time to play, more time to plan summer adventures, and more time to anticipate our annual family summer trip.
On multiple occasions we packed up the car and headed to Big Sky Resort. Big Sky offered everything we loved as a family: outdoors for us kids, fly-fishing for my dad, and beautiful views from inside a cozy lodge for my mom. Often we would ride the gondola up, playing rock, paper, scissors to decide who got to pick the color of the gondola, and we would hike down. We'd spend the first 15 minutes of the hike searching for the perfect walking stick, my older sister delegating which size was appropriate for each of us.
No amount of cheeseburgers, ice cream, or Shirley Temples could keep us away from hiking Lone Mountain. We loved the cool mountain air and rock collecting. Although we picked on each other plenty, we mostly loved being together.
I continue to enjoy these longer days in Big Sky, running through my neighborhood in the Meadow Village, sitting on the deck at The Bunker, playing golf at Big Sky Resort, and hiking Lone Mountain with my siblings from time to time.
Jordan, Erin, and me in the bowl at Big Sky Resort.
The live music scene in Big Sky, Montana, is unexpected and fantastic. Not only does Big Sky Resort offer live après music nearly every day during the winter across three outlets, but Scissorbill's Saloon, Ousel & Spur Pizza, The Gallatin Riverhouse, and By Word of Mouth also offer a variety of live music weekly. For a town of 2,000 people the live music can't be beat.
Live music suggestions during a winter visit:
1. Whiskey Jack's. Easily the best après food (Nachos!), but also Whiskey Jack's has the best vibe for music having featured Big Sky locals the Driftwood Grinners to post-Pond Skim with Milton Menasco. Throughout the winter and summer seasons Whiskey Jack's also offers fantastic late night music with Pinky and the Floyd, Cure for the Common, or Jerry Joseph and the Jack Mormons.
2. Ousel & Spur Pizza Co. Located next to the movie theater in the meadow, Ousel & Spur has great late night live music with a lot of the same musicians Whiskey Jack's entertains, but in a more intimate setting.
3. Gallatin Riverhouse. The Riverhouse, as it's known locally, is a must-do for a more country music feel. Go get some fried chicken and check out Bottom of the Barrel.
4. Open Mic Night at By Word of Mouth. By Word of Mouth (BYWOM) has open mic night once a week all winter long. It's great for finding out just how talented ones friends are.
5. Carabiner Lounge. Carabiner's cozy fireplace, chairs, and excellent service makes for a great setting to listen to après or late night music every day during winter season. I love it for a late burger dinner with solo acts Mike Haring or Kevin Fabozzi.
Bill Payne and the Hooligans at Whiskey Jacks.
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