Welcome to Big Sky Resort
Big Sky is a special place that takes skiing seriously. Surrounded by the beauty of the Greater Yellowstone Region, snow consistently falls on 5,850 acres of skiable terrain, ranging from cruisy groomers to bucket list descents.
This guide will help you navigate through the basics of visiting Big Sky, whether you’re a first-timer or a frequent visitor. Planning a ski vacation takes a lot of logistics – and we’re here to make it as seamless as possible.
We’re so excited to have you here!
Explore the Visitors Guide
When to Visit
Traditionally, peak visitation to Big Sky Resort is over Christmas and New Year’s, and the long holiday weekends in January and February. Many school breaks fall in March, which also makes that a popular time to visit. If you have the flexibility, skip the holidays and come when it’s a little quieter—your wallet might get some relief too.
If you ask us, the “secret season” here in Big Sky is April—most of our terrain is reliably open, the snowfall continues to be plentiful, and temperatures become a bit milder for outdoor après on our amazing decks.
Book in Advance
You probably wouldn’t show up at the airport to buy a same-day plane ticket—the same goes for booking a ski vacation. You can save up to 20% by booking lift tickets online in advance – that's major savings. The same goes for rentals, lodging, lessons, and guides – all of which can sell out on busy days, so book early. Booking a ski vacation in the summer may save you more than waiting until Cyber Monday sales.
Ikon and Mountain Collective passholders need to make a reservation to use their days at Big Sky. Days may fill up, so make your reservations early for the best availability.
Trip Planning Checklist
What to Pack
Here in Montana, the elements of winter demand function over fashion. Grab your trusty puffy jacket, shoes with good traction, and a beanie (or three). Whether you’re out on the mountain or hanging out in the base area, layering will keep extra warmth trapped in, and it’s easy to adjust throughout the day.
For skiing and riding, we recommend waterproof outer layers and gloves, and always wearing a helmet. If you’ve got your own ski gear, skip the oversized baggage fee and mail your skis right to the resort with our partner, Ship Skis. If you don’t have gear, don’t sweat it. Big Sky Sports Rentals & Demos has got you covered with skis and boards, suitable for everyone from beginner to advanced.
If you’re coming from somewhere with a warmer climate, there are plenty of shops in Mountain Village to stock up on mountain gear.
Arriving in Big Sky
Make your way to Big Sky from Bozeman along the Gallatin River as it winds its way through the canyon. Lots of wildlife call the Greater Yellowstone Area home. Keep your eyes out for eagles, ospreys, and the local herds of deer, elk, and Bighorn Sheep. Always be mindful of wildlife when driving, especially at night.
As you leave the canyon, you’ll come upon Big Sky Town Center and Meadow Village. Town Center has shops, restaurants, and the Big Sky Medical Center. You might want to stop by one of the grocery stores if you’re staying in a condo or home.
About 10 minutes past Town Center, Mountain Village sits nestled at the base of the ski area. You will check in at the Huntley Lodge or Summit Hotel if you are staying with Big Sky Resort Central Reservations. Mountain Village is the main hub for all your ski-related needs, including ticket offices, a Mountain Sports office, Rentals, shops, dining, Basecamp activities, and more.
Past Mountain Village, on the north side of Lone Mountain, is the Madison Base. Many vacation rentals will be based in this area, and it also has amenities such as lift tickets, mountain sports, rental offices, a gear shop, and the Headwaters Grill—it’s a great spot to swing by during the ski day, even if you are staying in Mountain Village.
Learn more about the two base areas:
Getting Around Big Sky
Big Sky Resort offers free transportation to and from town for dinner reservations and off-mountain activities for guests staying in Big Sky Lodging. Make sure to call the bell team ahead of time to arrange your trip—they can get busy! The Skyline Bus also provides free public transportation in the area.
Getting Ready for Your First Day
Before you hit the slopes, swing by the nearest Sky Card Express box to pick up your lift tickets or season pass. Simply use the scanner to scan the QR code in your confirmation email, and it’ll print out your Sky Cards with your lift tickets pre-loaded. Place your Sky Card in a pocket of your ski coat by itself. Your Sky Card is reusable year after year, so hang on to it! Ikon passholders can use their existing Ikon RFID card or swing by our Mountain Services office to pick one up. Mountain Collective passholders can load their days online and print out their Sky Card using the Express Boxes.
If you’re renting gear, avoid the rush in the morning and save time by picking up your rentals the day before between 2 – 4 p.m. at one of our three rental shops. If you’re arriving later than 5, use our convenient Rental Delivery service to have your rentals dropped off at your accommodations anywhere in Big Sky.
Drop by Big Sky Sports to stock up on any forgotten pieces of gear (we always forget our buffs). Grab some dinner in the Mountain Village, stay hydrated, and get a good night’s sleep to prepare for your first day on the mountain.
Even if you know the mountain like the back of your hand, we recommend downloading the Big Sky App. It has all the trail maps pre-loaded, and it also has up-to-date lift and trail status, so you can check what’s open before heading to a new spot.
If your lodging accommodations are located within driving distance, we have plenty of parking options to suit your needs. Our parking status page provides real-time updates about parking availability in all of our lots. And don’t worry about carrying your gear—we have parking shuttles that run every few minutes that stop at each lot from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
On the Slopes
Get to Know the Mountain
With 5,850 acres, there’s more terrain than you can ski in a day (we recommended at least three!) to explore the nooks and crannies across 39 chairlifts and four distinct areas. There are maps and wayfinding signage in the base area and on-mountain, but to get a lay of the land, be sure to take a look at our trail maps before heading out for the day.
For first-timers to Big Sky, we recommend booking a private lesson to have an instructor show you around. These experts will help you figure out the best spots on the mountain for what you’re looking to ski based on your ability level. For those looking to push the limits, booking a Tram Guide is the best and safest way to venture into Big Sky’s high-alpine expert terrain.
Bubbles & Safety Bars
When riding Swift Current 6 or Ramcharger 8, the chairlift bar is automatically locking. This means when you pull the bar down, it will stay locked until you reach the top terminal, where it automatically releases for unloading. The bubbles can go up or down during the duration of the ride.
From the base area, Ramcharger 8, North America's most technologically advanced lift, takes you up Andesite Mountain. At the top, Everett’s 8800 serves up world-class culinary experiences and unmatched views of Lone Peak. Dropping off the back side of Andesite takes you to Southern Comfort, home to some of the most cruisey groomers on the mountain. Thunder Wolf has great glades, and Elk Park Ridge is a must-do for those looking to carve up a long trail.
Lone Mountain East
This area is served from the base by Swift Current 6, the fastest 6-person chairlift in North America, complete with heated seats and Big Sky Blue Bubbles. Above Swift Current is Powder Seeker 6, home to The Bowl, and the Lone Peak Tram, nestled under the rugged walls of Lone Peak. Climbing to the top of the Headwaters Ridge is the Challenger lift, which lives up to its name with steep slopes and big bumps.
The North Side
Home to the Madison Base, the North side offers everything from long groomers to dynamic glades and ultra-challenging chutes. Six Shooter is the main lift that serves this area, while Lone Tree and the Headwaters lift access more advanced terrain. This side of the mountain looks up at the Headwaters chutes and often has fresh snow due to its north-facing aspects that get less sun exposure. It’s worth a trip to the North side just to get a new perspective of Lone Peak.
The South Side
Home to the Shedhorn and Dakota chairlifts, this area has great intermediate and advanced terrain, and some of the best glades on the mountain. Plus, nothing beats a snack and a beverage at the Shedhorn Grill on a sunny day!
Terrain for All Levels
Beginner Skiers & Riders
For first-time skiers and riders, we highly recommend taking a lesson to start building your skills on the right foot. Either Private Lessons or our Learn to Ski & Ride Group Lessons give you a solid platform to learn. Skiing and riding can be intimidating for the first time, and our instructors are knowledgeable, patient, and know how to make sure you have fun, which is the most important!
You’ll start out on the magic carpets to get a feel for sliding on the snow, stopping, and turning. Once you’ve got the basics, you’ll graduate to the lifts to continue refining your technique, all guided by your instructor. By the end of your first day, you might be a little sore, but you’ll be on your way to learning a lifelong winter sport!
The general rule of thumb is that it takes at least three days of skiing or riding to really get the hang of it and feel confident on the snow. If you book private multi-day lessons, we’ll set you up with the same instructor each day to ensure you’re making progress, and you’ll be exploring the whole mountain before you know it! Big Sky has over 2,300 acres of beginner and intermediate terrain, which is why it’s known for being a great place to learn.
Intermediate and Advanced Skiers & Riders
Big Sky is known for its big skiing. If you’re looking to venture into Big Sky’s advanced terrain, we always recommend hiring a guide to lead the way. They’ll be able to recommend routes depending on your skill level and interests. They also have avalanche gear if you want to take on the North Summit Snowfield or Big Couloir.
While the Lone Peak Tram has world-renowned terrain, it isn’t the only place you’ll find exciting things to ski on the mountain. Big Sky’s hike-to terrain provides access to some of the gnarliest in-bounds skiing in North America—you’ll definitely want a guide to drop in with. If that’s not your cup of tea, there are still plenty of areas to explore. We like to start the day with some warm-up laps in the Bowl before heading to the North Side or South Side for some fun glades.
Enable Autocharge on Your Account
If you're considering riding the Lone Peak Tram to sightsee or ski, enable Autocharge on your account. That way, if you choose to ride the Tram, you'll be all set to pay for your ride. One less reason to take your glove off on the mountain!
Get ready for an awesome day with the kids!
On the Mountain Village side, little ones can take it easy on the Explorer Chair. For older ones, a ride up the toasty Ramcharger 8 or Swift Current 6 chairs is always bound to lift spirits, and off the back side of Andesite Mountain, the Southern Comfort lift services wide, smooth groomers. For the more adventurous, the mellow trees of Pomp and Lizette are exciting and (relatively) obstacle-free. Make your way down Pacifier or Safari to get back to the base area. For the little rippers, a few laps in the Explorer terrain park can’t hurt, right? Always remember to pre-ride, re-ride, and then free-ride!
Over at Madison Base, kids can start out on the Derringer Chair. Hop on Six Shooter and meander your way down Lazy Jack and Cinnabar. The Cowpoke park is a great way to practice hops and jumps. Grab lunch at Headwaters Grille and snag one (or a few) of the most delicious cookies in the state at Uncle Dan’s Cookies for dessert on your way up Six Shooter. More advanced kids can explore the forests of Lone Tree or test your endurance on Horseshoe, one of the longest groomers at the resort.
Off the Mountain
Outdoor adventure is sure to enhance your appetite. For lunch and snack breaks while you’re out on the mountain, Vista Hall in Mountain Village offers a variety of cuisine options, lots of seating, and an expansive deck looking out at Lone Peak. Headwaters Grille is great for families if you’re on the North Side. For upscale alpine dining, make a reservation for Everett's 8800 for lunch or dinner, accessed by a ride up Ramcharger 8.
Mountain Village has a variety of dining options, from the family-friendly Chet's Bar & Grill and craft burgers & brews at Montana Jack to fine dining at the newly renovated Peaks Chophouse and Wine Lounge. A short drive down the road, the Big Sky Town Center and Meadow Village offer even more variety.
Here at Big Sky Resort, we believe that outfitting you with today’s leading technology will make the most out of your experience on our mountain and the next. In every shop, we help you seek your adventure, whether it be with gear or gifts for your family. Come on in; we’ve got you covered. Don’t miss a trip down to Big Sky Town Center, where even more shopping and opportunities await.
There are so many ways to get outside and enjoy the magic of winter off of your skis or board. Take a ride on the longest ziplines in the Yellowstone Region, take a peaceful snowshoeing tour, or relax your mind and body at Solace Spa and Recovery Lounge. If you’re looking for something more active, explore the many miles of Nordic skiing at the Big Sky Nordic Center, and take a lesson if it’s a new sport to you! No matter your preference, your rest days and evenings off-mountain will be great experiences on their own.
Whether it's a concert, weekly wine night, holiday tradition, or performance sports competition, there's always something going on in Big Sky. Explore all our events and happenings all season long.
Explore Greater Yellowstone
Big Sky is less than an hour’s scenic drive from West Yellowstone, the park’s west entrance. A beautiful place under the cover of snow, most roads are closed to cars in the winter. The only way to access Yellowstone National Park from the west entrance is via snowmobile, Nordic skiing, or snowcoach. Tours can be booked through Yellowstone National Park-approved outfitters.
The Big Sky community also offers unique activities such as dog sledding, sleigh rides, and snowmobiling tours. These tours book up fast. As soon as you book your lodging dates, it’s never a bad idea to schedule some non-ski activities during your trip.