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.
My first and second times into the North Summit Snowfield happened these past two weeks. After two solid 5"+ snowfalls on Lone Peak the skiing off the Tram was phenomenal. And when the sun came out and everyone fled to the groomers, the skiing in the north-facing protected 4,150 vertical feet North Summit Snowfield was still amazing.
With a walk-on Tram and the wind circulating snow into Great Falls last week I could have skied my same line over and over again with fresh tracks every time.
The snowfield, like any big mountain skiing, is something to respect, but it's also something that gives a lot of fun and a lot of powder love. Not only was this April Sunday my first time with a walk-on Tram, but it was also only my second time in the snowfield. I tagged along with my friend Kevin and shredded Great Falls for the first time. Named appropriately after five sets of waterfalls in Great Falls, Montana, this run flows steep, deep, and fast with such billowy pockets of snow and only a few obstacles to maneuver. The run out back to Six Shooter Lift also holds soft snow, even pitches, and little jibs on the side of the runs.
Although I've only experienced a few runs in the North Summit Snowfield, I'm finding us to be old friends who are reuniting under the best of circumstances. Happy to have knowledgeable friends who have shown me the ropes, I now can more confidently go through that gate and shred one of the most unique runs in the Rocky Mountains.
Kevin at the bottom of Great Falls.
Photo: Lonnie Ball
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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