The Best Groomers, According to a Lifelong Big Sky Skier
By Brenna Kelleher
Big Sky Resort offers some of the best terrain variety in the West for skiers seeking long, cruisy runs down a perfect carpet of corduroy. Though known for its big mountain skiing, there’s a side to Big Sky that’s beloved by many, but doesn’t get the same limelight – the groomers. With 3,200 acres of beginner and intermediate terrain (which is larger than most ski resorts in total!) you can ski for three full days without skiing the same run twice. As a lifelong Big Sky skier raised on these groomers, here are a few favorites that should definitely be on your Big Sky bucket list.
Mr. K is the quintessential green beginner run at Big Sky. If you are new to the sport and can make controlled turns, you will love this run. It is long and provides new snowsports enthusiasts the time to practice and repeat their techniques. This run is also the ultimate kids tree trail run: the edges are lined with offshoots, so pay attention to little ones zipping in and out of the run. Don’t forget to stop and look back at Lone Peak for one of the most spectacular views of the mountain.
Have you ever wanted to ski in Europe? Well, if you haven’t or you want to refresh your memory, head over to Sunlight. This is a wide-open run that starts above the tree line and opens up to the southeast and makes you feel like you are turning on top of the world. As you work your way down into the trees the run narrows, but wait for the last headwall where you can open it up again.
Elk Park Ridge
Want some sunny, fresh corduroy? Elk Park Ridge is a dreamy, long, blue run to rip down. The best time to ski this run is first thing in the morning when the grooming is fresh and the sun is out. While the first two headwalls are steep, the middle of the run levels out to a green pitch allowing for skiers to embrace the carve.
Zero in on your carving skills or learn basic carving techniques and ski in the sun! This southwest-facing cruiser is great for any skier level. Enjoy the view or take a run with someone if they are new to skiing. If there is a split in skiing ability, anyone can ski this run. It is not uncommon to realize that you are the only person on this delightful, mellow cruiser – which is also helpful for new skiers.
Rated a green run, the wide, flat start rolls over into a steeper green pitch, great for an advanced carving session. If you can ski Mr. K confidently, head over to El Dorado and enjoy this wide, south-facing run.
Lobo means wolf in Spanish, and this run feels like you could have a timber wolf running beside you. The tall pines that surround you create the sensation you are far away from everything. It is not groomed every day, but when it is, take it! Beautiful cruising with three great headwalls to take you right back to the base area and ready for more.
This is one of the only groomers off the Six Shooter chair. Long and cruisy with only one headwall and a blue pitch, it’s a beautiful run to ski around the famed whitebark pine trees of the North Side.
Upper Morning Star
Find yourself above the treeline and above the clouds. Depending on the weather, there is a good chance it could be an inversion and cruising this run in the morning sun is amazing. This run faces east and looks out into the valley and Yellowstone Park. It is a great run to cruise above treeline, making you feel like you are in the heart of Europe.
Horseshoe Is the most west facing run at Big Sky and one to hit not only for the beautiful cruising headwalls, but also for the views. It is one of the best views you can get of both Fan Mountain and the North Summit Snowfield off the Tram. The views from this run look into the Madison Valley and extend out into the Tobacco Roots.
The groomers at Big Sky are long, cruisy, and seemingly go on forever. Take this list as a starting point, and remember to check the daily grooming report to see where the grooming team has perfected the art of corduroy the night before.
Brenna Kelleher grew up in the Gallatin Canyon and skiing Big Sky Resort. A ski instructor for the past 11 years, Brenna is a member of the PSIA National Team and has made appearances in Warren Miller films. Currently, she sells real estate in addition to ski instructing at Big Sky Resort, and in her free time can be found mountain biking, kayaking, or on her horses in the mountains.
Emily Stifler Wolfe is a writer and business consultant based in Bozeman, Montana, and a former ski patroller in Big Sky. Find her at emilystiflerwolfe.com.