Direct to Montana: Portl & , Oakl & , & New York

Written by Greer Schott on  at

Direct Flight Map from January 2012'

PEOPLE SAY TRAVELING is about the journey, not the destination. But when the journey is on a modern airplane and the destination is your Montana vacation, most would rather, well, skip the journey part.

It's why I'm so excited the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is adding direct flights to Portland, Oakland, and (!) New York. That makes 13 major cities and hubs with direct access to Bozeman. Faster, easier travel time, longer, quality Big Sky time.

If you've ever been to Big Sky, you know location is Big Sky's best aspect and worst misconception. While Montana and Yellowstone National Park may conjure images of roaming bison, stunning peaks, and Brad Pitt fly fishing the Gallatin river (A River Runs Through It was filmed next to Big Sky), it also may conjure images of never-ending rides on dirt roads, possibly in a covered wagon, and days of travel time. People are never quite sure just where Montana is, but they're sure as heck it will be hard to get to.

Well, only half of those images ring true - the wild-west scenery we've got, but the remote-looking landscape is surprisingly accessible . And yes, while Montana has traditional ranchers and a wild-west feel, we also have cars, running water, the whole modern works.

Still, I get it. Because in the age of GPS, every time I look at a map of the United States, I'm slightly surprised. And I'm always surprised that I'm so surprised - didn't I spend all of 4th grade learning the names, locations, and capitols of each of these states? Apparently, it didn't stick, because my own notions of where each state is never seem to match up with the picture, no matter how many times I look. I still somehow revert back to my pre-4th grade concepts, when everything past the Mississippi constituted as "Out West," a vast and mysterious world of big mountains and animals - very, very far away.

Luckily, that's not the case. Big Sky, while in a huge and largely unpopulated state, is 45 minutes from Bozeman, MT, where direct flights currently fly in from 10 major cities and hubs. Most recently, Alaska Airlines and Allegiant Air added Portland and Oakland, respectively, to the list, and a New York direct is on the horizon too, possibly starting this summer.

Besides my New Yorker parents, who love another excuse to visits to their far-flung daughter who happens to live in a ski town (convenient, eh?), skiers on both coasts are rejoicing - especially when ski conditions have been dismal at most resorts but Big Sky so far this winter.

But you want to know the best part? Oakland flights start at $79.98 round trip. Under 80 bucks!?! Pack your bags, Lake Tahoe, and come find out where Montana really is. Jet setting and snow chasing just got a lot easier.

- Greer