As I hike into an open meadow the flitter of colors catch my eyes. Wildflowers, stunning and magical. Immediately my inner Von Trapp family singer emerges and I have an overwhelming desire to belt out an Americana classic that will echo across the slopes and bring the hills alive with the sound of music.
While I was in college at MSU Bozeman, I spent my summers in Big Sky bagging peaks and logging miles throughout the Lee Metcalf Wilderness that cradles the west end of Big Sky Resort's Lone Peak. I was studying hard on my other degree: becoming a "self-proclaimed naturalist". This prestigious acclaim does not come with a transcript or gown, but the accomplishment is rewarded by friends trusting my knowledge of local flora and fauna. I am regularly quizzed by them with a finger point and the question, "what is this?"
A visit to Big Sky country in July will be filled with colorful dancing meadows and alpine vistas. I will use my "degree" and recommend a few good wildflower hikes near Big Sky Resort.
Windy Pass: This trail rolls up with some short steep inclines through forest and meadows for 2.5 miles to the Windy Pass Cabin. Continue past the cabin another .5 miles to the Gallatin Crest Trail.
From Big Sky, Montana, proceed northbound for 6 miles on Highway 191 until you reach the Portal Creek Road 984 (RIGHT TURN). Follow this rough gravel road (note: may not be suitable for low clearance vehicles) up approximately 6 miles to the end at the Windy Pass and Golden Trout Lakes Trailheads. Windy Pass Trail 82 is left of the bulletin board. The cabin is 2.5 miles up (1300 foot elevation gain) the Windy Pass Trail 82.
Cinnamon Mountain: The climb to Cinnamon Mountain lookout lopes upward through forest and open meadows for 4 miles one way. The views of the Taylor Hilgard and Spanish Peaks of the Madison Range are stunning on a clear day. The lookout at the top is no longer manned, but the structure still remains.
From Big Sky, Montana, head southbound for about 11 miles U.S. Highway 191 south to Cinnamon Creek Road. The road is 100 yards south of The Cinnamon Lodge (great spot for after hike refreshments) on highway 191. Turn right on the dirt road and follow for 0.3 mile to the Cinnamon Station and the parking area.
You can spot these pretty little things in and around Big Sky Resort.
Below in order Lupine, Sticky Geranium, Spring Beauties & Glacier Lily.
I've always enjoyed grabbing some food and drink on the deck at The Bunker Bar & Grill at Big Sky Resort's Golf Course. The Bunker's deck is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a beautiful Big Sky afternoon or evening surrounded by views of the Spanish Peaks, West Fork Creek and of course one of the best views of Lone Peak in the Meadow Village. The bunker always has a relaxing, yet fun vibe everytime I eat there.
The entire Bunker has recently been renovated; the deck, the bar and even the menu is new and improved. One of the latest additions to the lineup is Burger Night every Tuesday, where $7 gets you a burger and a beer (or soda). To me this sounded perfect for a cheap date night. My girlfriend Jamie and I showed up to the Bunker and immediately got a table on the deck near the new outdoor bar & taps. We ordered our cheeseburgers and choice of draft beer and were amazed at how fast our food was ready. Even more surprising to me than the speed, was the size of the burger. This was no small sized burger special I've had at other places, this was a huge burger topped with fresh toppings and side of chips. When I asked Jamie what she thought of it, all she could mumble out was "mmm juicy..." She was right, the burger was juicy, flavorful and definitely filling, exactly what you look for in a cheeseburger.
We finished up every last bite, every last drop of beer, then got our check for a measly $14-not bad for a good night out with my girlfriend.
We finished up the evening by working on our golf swing, hitting a bucket of golf balls at the driving range.
In the winter, Big Sky's Huntley Dining Room is known for one mean breakfast buffet. But come summer (read: wedding season), the Huntley Dining Room takes on a whole new role - chafing dishes full of scrambled eggs and bacon are replaced with ivory linens and breathtaking floral centerpieces. And the occasional hay bale.
Think elegant and civilized meets rugged wild west. Last week I met with a bride-to-be whose wedding will be just that. While her life and career may have taken her to the big city, her Montana roots remain as strong as the reins on the Quarter Horses at her parents nearby ranch. This bride's upcoming wedding will be a weekend-long event, kicking off with a western-themed bar-b-que for over 300 people in the Huntley Dining Room. There will be s'mores around the fire, a wagon filled with penny candy, red and white checkered tablecloths, BBQ pulled pork, and, a mechanical bull. After a few rounds on a bucking bronco and several trips to the dance floor, guests will kick off their boots in either the four-star Summit Hotel or the luxurious Village Center - both within a short walking distance of the reception .
Other brides lean towards the more traditional, focusing on the grandeur of the outdoor beauty at Big Sky. Just a week after one bride's western bar-b-que, another will celebrate outdoors in the Lone Peak Pavilion as the sun sets behind the towering mountain. Guests will sip on fine wine, munch on mini bison steaks served on Montana grain crostini, and sway their hips to a local Bluegrass band.
But no matter which end of the spectrum a wedding leans towards, there's no divorcing it from Big Sky's sense of place and culture. Like the GeoTraveler, making sure to experience the local culture wherever she roams, a wedding at Big Sky is for the GeoBride, finding elegance and beauty in what is distinctly Montana.
- Margo Humphries, Big Sky Resort Wedding Sales Manager
When I told my sister last December that I I'd never heard of I Can Has Cheezburger, she was shocked and appalled. Apparently, I was the last person on the face of the planet not obsessed with Lolcats, and she had me visit the blog feed immediately.
At first it seemed inane. But now I find myself chuckling over ridiculous captions of silly cat pictures on a regular basis. Apparently, cute animal + bad spelling = obsession.
And then I discovered Animal Capshunz, I Can Has Cheezburger's sister blog that extends beyond the world of silly cat pictures into silly pictures of animals in general. My favorites are the LOLs of animals I can see in my own backyard, and in Montana that means moose, bears, and elk.
So in honor of the animals emerging all around Big Sky as summer approaches, here are some of my favorite Big Sky style Animal Capshunz, as well as some relevant LOLs of my own:
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