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.
Burger Night at The Bunker. Get great food and a great deal with discounted burger and beer combo at Big Sky Resort Golf Course. Sit outside on the best deck in Big Sky with views of Lone Peak, a chance to see mama and baby moose, and grab some sunshine.
Catch trout on the Gallatin River and then head up to Carabiner Lounge at Big Sky Resort for discounted bottles of wine.
Farmer's Market. Every Wednesday starting June 24, Town Center hosts a fantastic farmer's market with a large selection of dinner options, great pickled and fresh produce, and an abundance of arts, including live music. Check it out.
The Arts Council of Big Sky hosts FREE concerts every Thursday throughout the summer bringing in bands from all over the world including Sons of Bill on July 2, and The Whiskey Gentry July 23.
Bike or run down to Big Sky Community Park and ride the free skate park, climb three amazing boulders, or enjoy free disc golf into the mountainside. Not only does the Big Sky Community Park offer free disc golf, or stick to the Mountain Village to enjoy a free round of a brand new mini golf course and fun disc golf course.
Friday night also means Andiamo Italian Grille's Club Night in the Mountain Village. New this year, Andiamo hosts a DJ and Friday night party to kick off weekend fun.
Ride Big Sky Resort's mountain bike trails, including a new cross country and flow trail. For only $35 get a bike haul and take the lift up to ride down. Plus, grab BBQ pork, brisket, or turkey at the MT Smokehouse and get a discount on Saturdays when mountain biking.
Take a free scenic lift ride when staying in Big Sky Resort lodging or with your 15/16 season pass and enjoy a family hike back to the base area in time for brunch at the Carabiner Lounge. Summers in Big Sky are all about adventure, food and fun. Combine them to make the best of both worlds.
Enjoy Monday night discounted burger and beer at The Bunker Bar and Grill.
It was closing weekend at Big Sky and that can only mean one thing: Pond Skim. The crew is packed up, ready to go and we got an early start making our way up to Big Sky. This year would be different than last because this year I was going to be one of those skimmers.
The mountain fills with speckles of people as they await the debauchery that they are about to see, and I head to the top to make my debut as the fastest 80's skier that ever skimmed a pond. To say I was excited was a complete understatement. In a matter of minutes, the announcer calls my name, I jolt over to the start and I am ripping down the icy entrance switch as I await the inevitable crash into the water. I almost want to not make it across so I can get out of this suit that my dad wore every day in the 80s - the smell follows that description as well. As I am about to hit the water, I start day dreaming about how big this day has been and how Big Sky Resort closing weekend is and has been one of the best weekends of my life. The skies are blue, the beers are cold, and the onsies are vibrant. Big Sky closing weekend is something that anyone who calls themselves a skier should experience.
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