10 Best Ways To Spend An Autumn Day In Big Sky


Fall is Montana’s most breathtakingly beautiful season. With brilliant colors that paint the landscapes, active wildlife preparing for winter, and crisp air with sunny skies, it easy to see why both tourists and locals alike love the auumn season. Plus, and there’s fewer travelers than summer and winter ski season

Montana is a dream destination for lovers of the great outdoors and there’s no better basecamp than Big Sky! Big Sky is the most naturally beautiful, and coolest mountain town in Montana. Big Sky Mountain Village sits at an elevation of 7,500 feet – the colors start popping mid-September in the higher elevations and continue through the end of October with leaf-peeping adventures around every corner … and from home! Visitors are welcomed with wide expanses of wilderness, towering mountain peaks, endless opportunities for exploration, and the perks of a laid-back, and welcoming resort community

It’s been a long, hot summer in the mountains – but the smell of wood-burning fireplaces and pumpkin spice is already in the air! It’s time to pull out the sweaters and beanies, take advantage of the cooler temperatures by day, cozy up with s’mores and stories round the firepit, and take time out with family and friends before the ski season. 


1. Enjoy the Fall Foliage Drive to Big Sky


Whether you’re approaching Big Sky from Bozeman or West Yellowstone, the drive to Big Sky along the Gallatin River Canyon is spectacular any time of year, yet even more so in fall. The Gallatin Canyon follows the infamous Gallatin River with the crisp colors of golden cottonwoods and vibrant red alder bushes bursting along the river banks, and free roaming wildlife in the river valley. 

Plan time to take it slow … it’s a Montana fall foliage drive you’ll never forget!

2. Chase Waterfalls & Fall Colors


Big Sky is paradise for hikers, mountain bikers, and casual strollers! Wherever you adventure in Big Sky during the fall season, you’re bound to witness vibrant fall colors popping. The Ousel Falls Trail near Big Sky Town Center is short, spectacular and perfect for casual strollers and families with the reward of the scenic Gallatin River, a natural pool (chilly in fall!), and a gorgeous waterfall. 

Other top Big Sky fall foliage hikes include the Beehive Basin trail (ranked one of the world’s 10 greatest hikes!), the Lava Lake trail, and the bucket-list Lone Peak trail to Montana’s highest scenic overlook point at 11,116 feet.

3. Experience World-Class Fly Fishing


If you’ve seen A River Runs Through It, you’ll know all about the world-class fly fishing that awaits in Big Sky, MT. Big Sky is surrounded by famous blue-ribbon trout waters including the Yellowstone River, Madison River, and Gallatin River near Big Sky. Fall is one of the best times to reel in a big trout on the Gallatin River (right before spawning season) and with the golden hues of fall reflecting on the waters, you’re in for a world-class fly fishing experience in Big Sky. 

For the ultimate fly fishing experience in Montana, Gallatin River Guides have been operating year-round guided fly fishing trips on the Yellowstone, Madison, and Gallatin River for over 30 years. They know when, where, and how to fish Big Sky’s blue-ribbon trout waters with options for walking and wading, floating trips, or beginner fly fishing lessons on a private pond.

4. Saddle Up for a Western Trail Ride


Saddle up at an authentic Montana dude ranch to explore the backcountry of Big Sky on horseback – you can even go fly fishing on horseback! Whether it’s your first time riding or you’re keen to gallop off into the wilderness, horseback riding takes you to Big Sky fall foliage trails your hiking boots can’t! 

You’re in cowboy country … why not live the classic Old West experience! There are many local Big Sky ranches and outfitters that don’t stop saddling up after summer and operate year-round with unique horseback experiences for every level of rider.

5. Soak in Natural Hot Springs


While most of Big Sky’s natural hot springs are remotely situated on private land, there’s still opportunity to soak up the fabulous fall colors in Montana’s rejuvenating natural hot springs. Bozeman Hot Springs, Norris Hot Springs and Chico Hot Springs are all an easy drive from Big Sky and are open year round for a rejuvenating soak backdropped by beautiful fall colors. 

Of course, first prize would be to leaf-peep from your private hot tub – there’s that too! Our collection of Big Sky vacation rentals includes 110+ Big Sky hot tub homes with panoramic views of Lone Peak and perfectly perched for the best leaf-peeping in Big Sky, from the comfort and privacy of home!

6. Plan a Fall Trip to Yellowstone National Park


It’s clearly still a secret that fall is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park, and not only for fall foliage. The visitor numbers to Yellowstone drop radically after summer, the crazy traffic jams are over, Yellowstone’s world-famous wildlife make their way to the meadows and valleys, and a kaleidoscope of colors adds awe to Yellowstone National Park’s natural wonders. It’s a spectacular season to visit the park. 

The West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park is an hour drive south of Big Sky, the drive alone is worth it! Amidst the vibrant display of colors, fall visitors to Yellowstone have the privilege of witnessing grizzlies and brown bears preparing for hibernation, elk rut season, the fall migration of hawks and eagles, prime wolf watching, and biking and hiking trails awash in glorious golds. For the ultimate fall experience of Yellowstone, we highly suggest a guided tour with knowledge of the best leaf-peeping and wildlife viewing spots in Yellowstone!

7. Explore Big Sky Town Center


From the majestic Montana wilderness to the heart and soul of Big Sky, Big Sky Town Center. Whether you’re staying close by in Meadow Village or a short shuttle ride away in Mountain Village or Moonlight Basin, Town Center is the “downtown of Big Sky” and deserves a spot on your fall vacation itinerary. 

Browse the art galleries, sports outfitters and upscale boutiques, stock up on vacation groceries at Roxy’s Market or Hungry Moose and be sure to keep your eye on the event calendar for local events – there’s always something fun happening at Big Sky Town Center.

8. Indulge in Big Sky’s Restaurant Scene


Our Big Sky vacation rentals feature some of the best kitchens in Big Sky but don’t let that stop you from indulging a little (or a lot!) in Big Sky’s amazing restaurant scene. Between Big Sky Town Center and Mountain Village you’ll find everything from cozy coffee shops and cafes to family restaurants, fine dining, breweries and cocktail bars.

9. Hit the Slopes on Thanksgiving Opening Day


If there’s no time to visit Big Sky in time for fall foliage, plan your trip for later in the fall season! Thanksgiving is well celebrated in Big Sky – traditionally, and with the opening day of Big Sky Resort. The fall colors have faded but there’s unique alpine experiences both on and off the slopes at Big Sky Resort – here’s our guide on What to Expect at Big Sky Resort Winter 2022-23.

10. Refresh & Relax with Family & Friends


Refresh, relax and unwind with friends and family in the privacy of a Montana mountain cabin with leaf-peeping and wildlife viewing from your front porch … or a warm bubbly hot tub! From classic romantic log cabins for two to rare 7-bedroom modern mountain chalets, our Big Sky vacation rentals offer the ultimate retreat to get away from it all this fall.


22 Bucket List Items For Big Sky, MT


Is Big Sky Montana on your travel destination bucket list? Big Sky Montana is ranked one of the “World’s Greatest Places” and is a destination worthy of every travel bucket list. Nestled in Montana’s Rocky Mountains between Bozeman and the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky blends the charm of a small mountain town and rugged untamed wilderness with world-class ski resort activities, unique culinary experiences, warm hospitality, and big-time bucket-list adventures unique to Montana’s Big Sky Country. 

Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall – Big Sky Montana has it all and Big Sky Vacation Rentals have a dreamy vacation home that’ll have you counting the sleeps to your next bucket-list adventure in Big Sky, MT! 

WINTER BUCKET-LIST


1. Ski & Snowboard Big Sky Resort


Big Sky Resort boasts the “Biggest Skiing in America”, an excellent network of Nordic trails, and some of the top bucket-list ski runs in the US! Whether you’re looking for a fun first time on the ski slopes or dreaming of dropping into Big Sky’s iconic Big Couloir, skiing and snowboarding at Big Sky Resort is world-class.

2. Snowmobile through the Gallatin National Forest


Big Sky is surrounded by breathtaking backcountry terrain with 100+ miles of snowmobiling trails waiting to be explored. Snowmobile rentals are readily available locally or venture into the vast Montana wilderness on a private snowmobile tour with a local guide to navigate the canyons, peaks, and gorgeous Gallatin National Forest.   

3. Mush Your Own Dog Sled Team


You don’t need to travel to Alaska to mush your own dog sled team! You can do it right here in Big Sky! Local companies, Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures and Spirit of the North, offer unique dog sledding and mushing adventures in Big Sky’s Moonlight Basin, led by teams of spirited Alaskan Huskies, the stars of the show! Another bucket-list adventure in Big Sky, MT.

4. Ice Skating in Big Sky Town Center


Find family fun under the stars on the ice rink at Big Sky Town Center. The Big Sky Ice Rink is open daily with free skate sessions during the day and by night under the star-studded skies of Big Sky Country. What a way to end a winter’s day playing in Big Sky. Skate rentals are available at Grizzly Outfitters and East Slope Anglers in Big Sky Town Center.

5. Big Sky Skijoring


February brings one of the fastest-growing winter sports to town, Big Sky Skijoring! Skijoring is a combination of horseriding and ski jumping with a rider and skier competing for speed on a snow-covered course. Big Sky Skijoring attracts 4,000+ visitors to Big Sky for a weekend of old-fashioned, western-style, winter fun!

SPRING BUCKET-LIST


6. Whitewater Rafting on the Gallatin River


The spring snowmelt brings some of the best whitewater rafting in Montana to the wild and scenic Gallatin River. From scenic family float trips on the upper Gallatin to wild whitewater rafting trips in the lower Gallatin River Canyon, there’s a whitewater rafting experience in Big Sky for every age and adventure level.

7. Wildlife Watching


As the snow melts and the days grow longer, the Montana mountains come alive with the sights and sounds of nature springing to life. Elk and moose graze in the Big Sky meadows, bighorn sheep trail the rocky ridges, and bears emerge from their dens with newborn cubs. Come spring season, wildlife watching is on everyone’s Big Sky bucket list! 

8. Chase Waterfalls & Wildflowers


Wildlife, waterfalls, and wildflowers are top attractions during the spring season in Big Sky, MT. Waterfall and wildflower adventures include following the Gallatin River from Big Sky to the pools and cascading waterfall at Big Sky’s Ousel Falls and venturing through a dazzling display of wildflowers in Beehive Basin, ranked one of the world’s 10 greatest hikes!

9. Mountain Bike the Trails


Big Sky has miles of trails for horseriding, hiking, snowshoeing, and four seasons of biking! You may need to rent a fat bike (thanks to mud season)! Grizzly Loop and Lemondrop Loop are great mountain bike trails near Big Sky or the lift-served trails at Big Sky Resort open in June with 50+ miles of world-class mountain bike trails – and mind-bending alpine views to match!

SUMMER BUCKET-LIST


10. Ride the Summer Chairlift at Big Sky Resort


Big Sky Resort’s scenic summer lift ride is breathtaking. The Explorer chairlift ride is uphill only for hiking, biking, or ziplining back down the mountain – or ride the Ramcharger 8 & Swift Current 6 to hone your archery skills, enjoy alpine-inspired on-mountain dining, and soak up sweeping views of Lone Mountain, the Spanish Peaks, and the Gallatin River Valley below.!

11. Climb Lone Mountain


Lone Mountain Trail is Big Sky’s bucket-list hike to the summit of the iconic Lone Peak that looms large over the town of Big Sky, MT. Trails lead from the base of Big Sky Mountain Village or from the top of Swift Current 6 chairlift to the 11,166-ft summit with panoramic views all the way to Wyoming’s Grand Tetons. Solid hiking boots, ski poles, and lots of hydration for a high-elevation hike are essential! 

12. Paddle Lake Levinsky


Nestled at the base of Big Sky Mountain Village, Lake Levinsky is Big Sky’s summer destination for water activities or a refreshing dip in the lake! The lake is open daily from 10 AM to 6 PM with first come first serve boat rentals, or you can book a Family Adventure Card from Geyser Whitewater Expeditions for unlimited boat rentals during your stay in Big Sky.

13. Attend a PBR Event


The award-winning Big Sky PBR event in July is the biggest week of the year in Big Sky. Big Sky PBR tickets are on sale from March 1st and sell out fast (as does accommodation!). The event includes professional bull riding events, mutton bustin’ for the kids, a vendor village, and nightly music events to keep the party going! 

14. Attend an Outdoor Music Festival


Our favorite thing about summer in Big Sky is the endless music festivals under the stars! Big Sky Town Center’s Music in the Mountains runs throughout summer with 12 weeks of free family-friendly outdoor music concerts, August brings the Bravo! Big Sky Music Festival, and Big Sky Town Center regularly host major big bands at the outdoor events arena. Sign up for our Big Sky newsletter to stay up to date with local events and festivals!

AUTUMN BUCKET-LIST


15. Book A Round of Alpine Golf


The award-winning Big Sky Golf Course in Meadow Village is open until early October, also prime time for fall foliage in Big Sky, MT! The course combines a classic links-style golf course and the natural beauty of Big Sky’s stunning landscapes with a pro shop, golf lessons for all abilities, and a bar and grill to end your game. Tee times are now available for Summer 2023.   

16. Saddle Up for a Western Trail Ride


Another bucket-list fall foliage adventure is exploring Big Sky’s cowboy country on horseback. Saddling up for a western trail ride with a local cowboy on an authentic Montana dude ranch sure sounds bucket-list to us! Classic old-west horseback experiences are available for every age and adventure level in Big Sky, MT.

17. Fly-Fish the Gallatin River


Sit back and watch “A River Runs Through It” and flyfishing the blue-ribbon Gallatin River will soon be on your bucket list of skills to learn and fly fishing destinations! Grizzly Outfitters in Big Sky Town Center are your one-stop shop for fishing gear rentals and local tips, or reel in a trophy wild trout with a local Gallatin River guide leading the way. 

18. Take a Trip to Yellowstone National Park


Tours of Yellowstone National Park are available year-round from Big Sky but in fall the crowds are thinner, wildlife is abundant, and vibrant fall foliage sets the steamy landscapes (and your heart!) on fire. The roads are open to take a self-guided tour or book a guided tour of Yellowstone National Park to tick America’s oldest national park and top natural wonder off your bucket-list. 

YEAR-ROUND BIG SKY BUCKET LIST


19. Shop Local at Big Sky Town Center


Big Sky is a small mountain town with a tight-knit local community, unique stores and restaurants, and a seasonal summer farmer’s market that attracts our guests back to Big Sky each year! The Big Sky Farmers Market features 100+ local vendors, amazing food stalls, one-of-a-kind souvenirs, and live music in Fire Pit Park at Big Sky Town Center

20. Eat at Local Restaurants


For a small mountain town, Big Sky has an amazing selection of coffee shops, breweries, bars and restaurants with culinary experiences unique to Big Sky! Savor Montana’s finest elk, bison, or wild trout at Lone Mountain Ranch, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride to dinner, ride a snowcat for a candlelit dinner in a backcountry yurt, or indulge in a private local chef for an intimate gathering at home

21. Relax at a Spa


Every vacation bucket list deserves a little self-pampering! Revitalize your body and spirit at the Solace Spa at Huntley Lodge, soak in the rejuvenating natural hot springs surrounding Big Sky, or experience the ultimate self-pampering in our Platinum Collection of Big Sky vacation rentals with private outdoor hot tubs and spa-inspired bathrooms including all the luxe amenities for a pampering spa session at home.

22. Stay in a Classic Montana Mountain Cabin


Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple seeking romance, a fun-loving family, or a group of bucket-list adventurers, you’ll find a classic Montana mountain cabin with Big Sky Vacation Rentals. Our hand-picked collection of 125+ Big Sky vacation rentals includes everything from classic cowboy cabins with rustic charm to modern mountain marvels to accommodate even the most distinguished guests.


STAY WITH US!

Begin your Big Sky mountain escape with Big Sky Vacation Rentals. Start planning your Big Sky bucket-list adventures with our local team at Big Sky Vacation Rentals! Book online or call our team of vacation specialists at (888) 915-2787 today!

Big Sky Autumn Events Calendar 2023


Amidst the breathtaking scenery and crisp mountain air, a realm of fall wonders awaits in Big Sky, Montana. Whether you’re a music enthusiast, trailblazer, thrill seeker, or someone who simply delights in the beauty of autumn’s changing leaves, Big Sky boasts a delightful lineup of autumn activities and events backdropped by the majestic Montana mountains and the western charm of our small mountain town.


Metal in the Mountains

Thursday, September 14, 2023 | 5 PM

Location: Len Hill Park – Big Sky Town Center 

Schedule of Events
5:30 PM Stoneman’s Way
6:30 PM Liquid Gnar
8:00 PM Scavenger

Elevate your autumn adventure in Big Sky at the exhilarating Metal in the Mountain festival. Hosted by the Arts Council of Big Sky and Rocks Tasting Room, Metal in the Mountains is a special addition to the Music in the Mountains summer series and a first of its kind in Big Sky. This free end of summer bonus festival features three local heavy metal bands headlined by local Big Sky band Scavenger with supporting acts from Liquid Gnar of Belgrade and Stoneman’s Way of Big Sky.


The Rut

Friday, September 15, 2023 – Sunday, September 17, 2023

Location: Lone Mountain, Big Sky

For those seeking a fall challenge that blends breathtaking scenery with physical prowess, look no further than The Rut Mountain Run on Big Sky’s iconic Lone Mountain. The Rut is a three-day Montana mountain running celebration designed for all levels of athletes, from amateurs and kids to professional trail runners. Please note that 2023 Registration is FULL but it’s a great event for spectators too! The Kids 1K Rut Run is still open for registration.

15th Annual Big Sky Farmers Market

Wednesday, September 27, 2023 | 5 PM to 8 PM

Location: Big Sky Town Center 

The final Big Sky Fall Farmers Market takes place on Wednesday, September 27 in Big Sky Town Center Plaza. Slightly smaller than the summer farmers market, the fall market features handmade crafts and artwork from talented local artisans, live music, food vendors, and a variety of fresh fall produce and seasonal supplies from local farmers.  

Big Sky Cars & Coffee

Sunday, October 1, 2023 | 8 AM to 12 PM

Location: Big Sky Town Center Plaza

Calling all car enthusiasts! Prepare for a high-octane morning at Big Sky Cars & Coffee in Town Center Plaza. Taking place on the first Sunday of every month, this fun event features a dazzling array of cars ranging from classic and luxury vehicles to hot rods and muscle cars. Engage with fellow enthusiasts, swap stories, and sip coffee surrounded by the sights of autumn in Big Sky, MT. 

7th Annual Haunted Peaks Halloween Festival

October 27-29, 2023

Location: Big Sky Town Center 

Embrace the spooky side of fall at the 7th Annual Haunted Peaks Halloween Festival, a three-day Dia De Los Muertos and Halloween celebration in Big Sky Town Center. Bring the whole family along for a bewitching experience that includes traditional holiday activities, pumpkin carving competitions, a costume contest and block party, trick or treating, haunted runs, horror films, and so much more!

Thanksgiving Dinners

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Whether you’re looking for a traditional feast in a ranch-style setting or an intimate holiday meal at home, Big Sky offers a variety of Thanksgiving dinner options. Take advantage of our grocery delivery services to stock your rental with all you need for a family Turkey Day at home, indulge in a gourmet Thanksgiving dinner party with a personal chef, or reserve a table for a traditional Montana Thanksgiving meal at a local Big Sky restaurant.


Big Sky Resort 2023-34 Winter Opening Day

Wednesday, November 22, 2023 | 9 AM

Fall signals the approach of a winter wonderland and there’s no better way to usher it in than at Big Sky Resort’s 2023-24 Winter Opening Day! Get ready for Big Sky’s biggest and best season yet! Big Sky’s 50th anniversary season kicks off on Wednesday, November 22 with the opening of the new Lone Peak tram and fun, family-friendly opening day festivities in Mountain Village. Big Sky Resort is scheduled to close on April 28th, making Winter 2023-24 the longest Big Sky ski season on record! 

During your search for Big Sky Thanksgiving rentals, please check the ski access information on each property before booking. November and the first half of December are considered early season and, while there are plenty of snow covered slopes for skiers and snowboarders, some ski in ski out Big Sky rentals rely on lifts that are not open in the early season. Browse our ski-in ski-out rentals HERE.


Big Sky Christmas Stroll

December 8-9, 2023

Location: Big Sky Town Center 

The Big Sky Christmas Stroll is a cherished holiday tradition that kicks off the festive season in Big Sky. During this magical two-day event, the streets of Big Sky Meadow Village and Town Center come alive with fun festivities including tree lighting ceremonies, photos with Santa, Christmas carolers, fireworks, wagon rides, ice skating, live music, and outdoor activities on Big Sky’s illuminated winter trails. Browse our vacation rentals near Big Sky Meadow Village and Town Center HERE.

Live Music at Tips Up

Every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday | 9:45 PM – 11:45 PM

Location: Big Sky Town Center 

Looking to unwind and let loose with some live music and laid-back vibes? Located in the heart of Big Sky’s Town Center, Tips Up guarantees a good time with live music, interactive games like shuffleboard and cornhole, and arcade and casino favorites including live poker! Open for lunch, dinner, and late night entertainment, when you’re down for a good time (and the best fried chicken in Big Sky), head to Tips Up in Big Sky Town Center. Click HERE to view the Tips Up live music schedule.

The Waypoint

Location: Big Sky Town Center 

Formerly known as The Independent, The Waypoint in Town Center is the place where Big Sky comes together! The Waypoint is a movie theater and community hub with a Mediterranean inspired restaurant, seasonal outdoor bar, relaxing atmosphere, and a lineup of events that appeal to all ages. Tickets for all events are available at the door. 

DAILY MOVIES | 5 PM & 7 PM
Throwback movie nights, comedy movies, film festivals, and more!
Cost: $15.50 Adults – $10 kids 

SUNDAY FUNDAY | 2 PM to 11:55 PM
Food, outdoor games, drink specials, and bottomless bubbles! 
Cost: $25 

MONDAY FAMILY NIGHT | 5 PM to 7 PM
Drinks, board games, and great specials for the kids and parents too! 
Cost: $10 kids meal & mocktail – $2 off wine, beer & cocktails

WEDNESDAY TRIVIA NIGHT | 8 PM to 10 PM
Live trivia for the whole family every Wednesday night
Cost: Free

THURSDAY HARRY POTTER FEST – The Chamber of Secrets | 7 PM to 9:30 PM
Journey to Hogwarts for the Fall Harry Potter Fest 
Cost: $10 at the door

FRIDAY KARAOKE NIGHT | 9 PM to 11:55 PM
Bring the house down at Karaoke Night at The Waypoint
Cost: Free 


Autumn’s Wonders Await with Big Sky Vacation Rentals

Imagine waking up in the heart of the action with the best of Big Sky right on your doorstep! At Big Sky Vacation Rentals, we’re here to make your fall getaway truly exceptional. With cozy creature comforts perfectly suited for crisp autumn weather, luxurious amenities that pamper you after a day of adventures, and easy access to Big Sky’s signature events, we’re here to ensure your stay is as magical as the season itself! 

PS: Our slopeside rentals in Mountain Village are perfectly positioned for the ultimate Opening Day at Big Sky Resort. We hope to see you on the slopes!


What’s Up With The New Tram At Big Sky Resort?


A Transformed Tram Experience at Big Sky Resort!

Big Sky Resort has a goal to be the best ski experience, the best hospitality experience, and the best community experience in the North American ski industry and they are on track! 

Imagine being perched on the edge of the Montana mountains, surrounded by breathtaking vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see. That’s the exhilaration you’ll experience when you step aboard the state-of-the-art Lone Peak Tram at Big Sky Resort, opening for Winter 2023-2024! 

Rising to the summit of Lone Peak at an astounding 11,166 feet, this high-alpine feat of engineering whisks you to the highest scenic overlook in Montana at a speed of 22mph in only four minutes, granting you unparalleled year-round access to the best skiing, snowboarding, and sightseeing that Montana has to offer. The long-awaited transformation of the Lone Peak Tram stands as one of the most highly anticipated ski lift projects in the world! Chinook helicopters soared the skies hauling equipment and materials, including over 250,000 pounds of steel and 300 cubic yards of concrete used to create the sole 100-foot tower, two 75-passenger cabins traveled more than 5,000 miles from Olten, Switzerland, and specialists from around the globe collaborated to achieve a major milestone in the Big Sky 2025 vision.

As the Big Sky 2025 vision unfolds, each winter season at Montana’s Big Sky Resort gets bigger and better. Whether you’re a valued guest returning for an annual ski trip or Big Sky is dominating your ski destination searches and newsfeed and you’re coming to see what all the fuss is about – we’ve got the scoop on what’s new and what to expect at Big Sky Resort for the winter season ahead.


The Lone Peak Tram Experience

The Lone Peak Tram is more than an engineering marvel and mode of transport – it’s a journey that encapsulates the rugged beauty, awe-inspiring vistas, and endless adventures that define the Big Sky experience. The transformation of the Lone Peak Tram stands as a true testament to Big Sky Resort’s continued commitment to providing world-class experiences for its visitors.

Added Convenience

Big Sky Resort opened in 1973 with only four lifts! Today, Big Sky Resort boasts the fastest and most technologically advanced ski lifts in North America and an out-of-base capacity of approximately 10,000 skiers per hour. At Big Sky Resort, you can skip the lift lines, warm up on heated seats in the weatherproof Big Sky Blue Bubbles, and now ride the Lone Peak Tram at an unrivaled speed of 22 miles per hour to the most exhilarating terrain in North America, including the legendary Big Couloir. 

In the final chapter of Big Sky 2025, the Explorer chair in Mountain Village will be replaced by a two-stage gondola creating a seamless base-to-summit lift network at Big Sky Resort. This new gondola and tram connectivity will allow for ADA-accessible pedestrian access to the summit of Lone Mountain for the first time ever, both in winter and summer.

Enhanced Comfort

With blue weatherproof bubbles, ergonomically shaped heated seats, individual headrests and footrests, and whisper-quiet operations, Big Sky Resort’s ski lifts are meticulously designed for maximum comfort – and panoramic vistas! The Lone Peak tram passenger cabins are equally impressive! Imported from Olten, Switzerland, the customized 75-passenger cabins include seating for up to 12, speakers for music, and glass floor panels for summer visitors to soak up the views. 

Your comfort doesn’t end on the ski lifts! Big Sky Resort enhances your comfort both on and off the slopes. The Big Sky 2025 project includes enhanced on-mountain dining experiences featuring everything from family-friendly eateries and fireside fine dining to European-style après ski spots and live music. The final chapter of Big Sky 2025 features a new food and beverage hub at the connection terminal between the two-stage gondola top terminal and the Lone Peak tram, offering skiers, snowboarders, and pedestrian traffic endless options to refuel before adventuring to the summit of Lone Peak.   

Winter Access to Lone Peak Tram

To preserve the Big Sky ski experience, access to the tram during the winter season will be carefully regulated, taking into account the available open terrain, mountain conditions, and prevailing weather conditions. The allocation of tram riders will be assessed and adjusted daily by our dedicated ski patrol team, ensuring the safety and enjoyment of all guests at Big Sky Resort. The Lone Peak Tram opens in mid-December and will operate through the end of the season. This unique experience will be the highlight of your winter activities in Big Sky.

Summer Access to Lone Peak Tram

During the summer season, the Lone Peak Tram will operate at a full capacity of 75 passengers per cabin, with ADA access to ensure all visitors can enjoy the Lone Peak Tram experience to the highest scenic overlook in Montana. The summer tram experience will include an all-glass viewing platform with panoramic views of the Montana peaks and down the fall line of Big Sky Resort’s most challenging terrain. The mid-station terminal of the new gondola (coming Summer 2024) will serve as an adventure hub for summer activities in Big Sky – including mountain biking, hiking, and ziplining.

Lone Peak Tram Pricing

For the 2023-24 winter season, pricing for the Lone Peak tram will change from a daily rate to a per-ride fee. Most Big Sky lift tickets will not include scenic rides or ski/snowboard rides on the tram! For those wanting to ride the tram frequently, the Gold + Ikon Base and Gold Season passes provide unlimited tram access, or the Double Black Pass includes 25 skier/snowboarder rides and 10 scenic rides for the season. 

All other riders must enable Tram Autocharge with a credit card on their Big Sky Account to ride the tram. With the new per-ride dynamic pricing structure, rates will be set on a daily basis fluctuating between $10 in off-peak periods to $40+ in peak. The Autocharge account will be charged prior to each ride on the Lone Peak Tram. Create a Big Sky Account HERE to start planning your Lone Peak Tram experience!

Spectacular Terrain for All Abilities

Big Sky Resort boasts the “Biggest Skiing in America” with 5,850 acres of skiable terrain over four mountains, 300 named ski runs, 7 terrain parks, and 39 ski lifts (including the most technologically advanced lift network in North America). Stay within your limits on the wide beginner or intermediate groomers or, for steeps, deeps and unmatched expert inbound terrain, ride the Lone Peak Tram to the summit at a breathtaking 11,166 feet. 

Forget the long lift lines and cold winter chills – Big Sky Resort has a total of 1,800 chairs with an hourly uphill capacity of 42,000 skiers including four enclosed Big Sky Blue Bubbles with head rests and luxurious heated seats to warm up for your next run. Don’t let the expanse of Big Sky intimidate you – there is terrain for every level of skier and snowboarder at Big Sky.

Big Sky Mountain Stats

  • Beginner: 23%
  • Intermediate: 25%
  • Advanced: 34%
  • Expert: 13%
  • Extreme: 5%

Better Connections

Big Sky, Montana ranks as one of the best-served mountain destinations in the US! There are over 40 non-stop flights from the east and west coast daily into Bozeman during the ski season with convenient car rental agencies and transportation services directly from Bozeman to Big Sky, MT. Arrange slopeside ski-in ski-out lodging and you can vacation in Big Sky without a car!

Book your Lift Tickets & Ski Days

To ensure an enhanced ski experience and maintain a reputation of fewer lift lines and uncrowded slopes, lift ticket availability may be limited on certain peak dates. Big Sky Resort encourages skiers and snowboards to buy lift tickets in advance for the best rates and availability. New to winter 2022-2023, Ikon and Mountain Collective pass holders will be required to reserve their ski days in advance. 

Big Sky Resort Activities & Programs

Big Sky Mountain Sports School offers private and group lessons with world-class ski and snowboard instructions, kids camps for ages 3 and up, and experienced tram guides to maximize (and enhance) your time spent discovering the best inbound terrain and biggest skiing in America off Lone Peak! Be sure to book your Big Sky lessons and guided experiences well in advance.  

Unique Alpine Experiences Off the Slopes

Big Sky’s beauty is not limited to thousands of acres of terrain off Lone Peak. When planning your ski trip to Big Sky, be sure to adventure beyond the slopes into the wilderness of the Montana mountains. From thrilling snowmobile and dog-sled adventures to ice-skating, family sleigh rides or winter fly-fishing expeditions on the world-famous Gallatin River, unique alpine experiences await in Big Sky, MT. For more bucket-list adventures, include a winter tour of Yellowstone National Park in your Big Sky itinerary.

Stay Near the Lone Peak Tram with Big Sky Vacation Rentals

As Big Sky gains recognition as a top-notch ski and snowboard destination and Montana’s ultimate year-round escape, demand for resort lodging is on the rise! With over 130 vacation condos, cabins, custom lodges and ski chalets, Big Sky Vacation Rentals represent one of the largest collections of luxury vacation rentals in Big Sky and continue to hand-pick the best ski homes in Big Sky to meet the demand.

Enhance your vacation by choosing a Big Sky vacation rental conveniently located near Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Village base area. Wake up to stunning mountain views, enjoy effortless access to the Lone Peak Tram, and return to all the comforts of home, and more! Big Sky Vacation Rentals is your gateway to a seamless, professional, and engaging mountain experience. We live here, we work here, we know Big Sky.

Booking with Big Sky Vacation Rentals ensures a hassle-free Big Sky vacation and a luxurious place to stay – secluded in the wilderness or slopeside at Big Sky Resort for easy early season ski access! Our luxury guest amenities ensure quality time off the slopes – gourmet kitchens, games rooms, indoor and outdoor entertainment areas, cozy fireplaces and outdoor fire pits, and private hot tubs overlooking Lone Peak. 

We partner with local reputable companies to offer our guests easy transportation to and from Bozeman International Airport, ski and snowboard rental and delivery, shipping services, grocery delivery to your vacation home prior to arrival, and elevated in-house dining options

Browse our selection of Big Sky luxury vacation rentals, download our Big Sky Vacation Guide for easy trip planning, or call our local team at +1-888-915-2787 to start planning your ski trip to Big Sky!


8 Tips for First Timers on the Big Sky Slopes 


Are you planning your first ski vacation in Big Sky, Montana? Nestled in the heart of the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, Big Sky offers some of the best resort amenities and terrain in the West for both beginner and expert skiers and snowboarders – and those simply looking for a scenic setting to relax in the Montana mountains! 

Big Sky Montana boasts the biggest skiing in America – 5,850 skiable acres with 320 ski runs on 4 interconnected mountains, high-speed heated chairlifts, and breathtaking terrain ranging from green groomers and bunny hills in the base areas to iconic couloirs and terrifying triple diamonds stemming from the summit of Lone Peak. 

You can bring the whole crew to Big Sky and experience the winter adventure of a lifetime, and be one of the first to ride the transformed Lone Peak Tram this winter season! 

Forget the terrifying triple diamond rating at Big Sky – those slopes are for the experts! We’re here to share our 8 tips for first-timers on the Big Sky slopes  – and to tell you that there’s no better place on earth to enter the world of winter sports and learn to ski or snowboard than Big Sky Montana!


1. Book A Ski-In Ski-Out Vacation Rental

Forget the hassle of transportation, packed parking lots, and transitioning your gear from your rental home to the Big Sky slopes, and back home! Your first time on the slopes should be effortless, easy, and fun! From waking up to first tracks, skiing from your back deck, and easy access to the ski lifts and ski schools, to the convenience of taking a midday lunch break or hot tub soak, a slopeside vacation is the epitome of mountain living – and the ultimate experience for first-timers on the slopes. Word of caution, be sure the ski access is suitable for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. On that note, our Cowboy Heaven Cabins boast TRUE ski-in/ski-out access to Big Sky Resort for all levels of skiers and snowboarders.

Browse our collection of ski-in ski-out rentals in Big Sky    


2. Choose Warmth & Comfort over Style

Montana winters are chilly and weather conditions in the higher elevations are constantly changing, so prioritize warmth and comfort over designer ski styles! We recommend wearing three layers; a moisture-wicking base layer to keep you dry, an insulating layer for warmth, and a waterproof outer layer to protect yourself against the elements. Top it off with waterproof gloves or mittens, a sweat-wicking skull cap beanie to wear under your helmet, and high-quality ski socks with padding to soften the ski boot. There’s a variety of outdoor gear stores in Mountain Village and Big Sky Town Center to shop locally too. 

Check out our Easy Winter Packing List for Kids


3. Rent Your Winter Sports Gear

While you may be tempted to snag a cool pair of vintage skis on eBay, for a successful first time on the slopes renting equipment locally is your best bet. There are so many different brands, types, lengths, and price ranges of skis and snowboards. As a beginner, choosing the right gear can be a confusing call. Our local Big Sky outfitters will equip you with the right gear for your weight, height, and skill level to enhance your experience, deliver directly to your Big Sky rental home, and even meet you on the mountain to switch out gear if you’re feeling out of sync. Bonus! Guests of Big Sky Vacation Rentals enjoy a 15% discount at Ski Butlers in Big Sky.   

Shop around for Big Sky winter sports rentals


4. Learn With A Pro (Not Your Pals!)

Learning to ski or snowboard is fun, but for first-timers, it can be a tiring experience with a high level of fear and frustration. But, everyone has to start somewhere, and Big Sky is the place! The seasoned instructors at Big Sky Mountain Sports School specialize in tailoring their instruction to your individual needs, ensuring you learn at your own pace, build confidence to conquer the beginner Big Sky slopes, and transition with ease from pizza slices and snow plows to smooth carves or parallel turns in no time! Big Sky Resort offers a variety of ski and snowboard lessons including kids lessons for ages 2 and up, private one-on-one sessions with an instructor, and group lessons for all ages and ability levels. 

Book Big Sky Mountain Sports School ski and snowboard lessons


5. Get Lift Tickets in Advance

For the best rates and confirmed availability, don’t wait until you’re at the resort to purchase your lift tickets. Lift tickets are not included in ski and snowboard lessons, so a pass is required for every day you intend to ski. All Ikon Passholders and Mountain Collective pass holders will need to make a reservation to use their days at Big Sky, or for daily lift tickets get the best per-day rate by booking early, and bundling up your days! Big Sky Resort offers Beginner Tickets which include access to the Explorer lift at Mountain Village, the Derringer lift at Madison Base, and the magic carpets at both Big Sky base areas. Tickets are not available in the early season and are available at ticket windows only. 

Explore all Big Sky Resort Lift Ticket Options


6. Build Confidence Cruising Big Sky’s Beginner Terrain

Big Sky Resort’s beginner terrain will have you building confidence on the slopes in no time! For those looking to escape the crowds, the Madison base area on the north side of the mountain is quieter than Mountain Village and easily accessible from our ski in ski out rentals in Moonlight Basin. Both base areas have a Mountain Sports School, gentle green trails, easy chairlifts, and small terrain parks for beginners to practice their jumps, tricks, and stunts in a fun and safe setting. You’ll be riding the iconic high-speed high-tech Big Sky Blue Bubbles and all-new Lone Peak Tram to the upper elevation slopes in no time! 

Take a Tour of Big Sky Resort Winter Trails


7. Safety First

As you embark on your snow-filled adventure, your personal safety is paramount! On your first day on the slopes, you’ll discover muscles you never knew you had, so warm up and stretch before strapping on your gear. Always use proper equipment and protective gear, and smother on the sunscreen – the higher the altitude, the easier the sunburn. Dehydration at high altitudes is also a reality, so stay hydrated – and we’re not talking about mountain mimosas and craft beer at the on-mountain restaurants! Last, but not least, familiarize yourself with the Skier Responsibility Code and safety at Big Sky Resort and, as a beginner, always hit the slopes with a buddy. 

Learn About Safety at Big Sky Resort


8. Balance Your Time in Big Sky

Balancing your time in Big Sky is all about embracing the diversity of experiences our winter wonderland has to offer, and having fun! Aside from the elevated experiences at Big Sky Resort, you’ll find an array of activities to keep your off-slope days just as exciting as your time on the mountain. Have fun and mix it up a little with an easy snowshoe hike, a coach or snowmobile tour of Yellowstone National Park, sledding and ice skating at Town Center, or a bucket-list day of mushing in the Montana mountains. Big Sky hosts a lineup of epic winter events in Big Sky and an evening of après ski always awaits!


Our Big Sky vacation rentals have been the home base of many first-timers evolving into true Big Sky triple black aficionados! We know your ski vacation is a big investment! We represent the best vacation homes and condos in Big Sky with a local team to provide you with guest services and tips to make your vacation truly exceptional. BOOK ONLINE or call our team today at (888) 915-2787.


10 Tips for Holiday Season Travel to Big Sky


Welcome to the breathtaking winter wonderland of Big Sky, Montana! As you plan your holiday season escape to this picturesque destination, we want to ensure that your vacation is nothing short of memorable. Whether you’re an avid skiing family, learning the art of snowboarding, or simply just seeking a cozy mountain retreat for the holiday season, Big Sky Montana is a magical place to spend the holidays. 

To make your holiday season experience in Big Sky Montana unforgettable, we’ve put together a list of top tips to help you navigate the destination, plan your activities, and make the most of your holiday season travel to Big Sky. 


1. Find a Holiday Home First!


As the holiday season approaches, keep in mind that Christmas and New Year are peak visitation times in Big Sky, and the demand for vacation rental homes and condos is high! Finding a holiday home first, sets the stage for a magical stay filled with festive feasts, quality time with friends and family, and snowy adventures right from home. 

Our Big Sky vacation rentals are designed and equipped for holiday gatherings of all sizes. From well-equipped kitchens and snug living spaces with crackling fireplaces, to outdoor hot tubs and firepits nestled beneath star-studded skies, your Big Sky holiday home is the cornerstone of an enchanting holiday season in Big Sky.

2. Secure Your Ski Passes in Advance


With 5,800 acres of diverse terrain, Big Sky is a haven for skiing and snowboarding – but the holiday season draws the crowds! Reservations are required for Mountain Collective and Ikon Passholders to use their days at Big Sky, all other skiers and snowboarders should purchase tickets in advance for the best prices and availability. Securing your lift tickets before arriving in Big Sky will be a game-changer for your holiday season getaway. 

This holiday season, all visitors to Big Sky get to experience the all-new transformed Lone Peak Tram! Note that advance lift tickets are not available for the Lone Peak Tram. Whether you’re a skier, snowboarder, or a scenic sightseer, simply enable autocharge on your Big Sky account and tram rides are charged directly to your credit card as you pass through the entrance gate. It’s a must-do attraction for the ultimate holiday hoorah in Big Sky.

3. Arrange Ski & Snowboard Delivery


Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time skier, having the right gear and equipment enhances your overall winter sports experience on the slopes of Big Sky. Instead of waiting until you arrive, standing in lines, and wasting valuable time on the slopes, Ski Butlers in Big Sky offer the convenience of having top-notch equipment delivered to your Big Sky vacation rental, ensuring a hassle-free and personalized experience on the slopes. 

Simply reserve the equipment you want online, relax in your vacation home while they fit your gear, and enjoy full support on the slopes while you ski or snowboard – their ski technicians will even meet you on the mountain while you enjoy an apres break! If you’d rather ship your gear from home, we’ve got you covered too!

4. Plan Your Off-Piste Pleasures


Big Sky is renowned for its world-class skiing and snowboarding, but your off-slope adventure options are as diverse as the Big Sky slopes! To avoid missing out on these unforgettable and popular winter experiences, be sure to book all your off-slope activities in advance. 

Picture the enchantment of a horse-drawn sleigh ride with the jingling serenade of sleigh bells, the tranquility of soaking in natural hot springs, or a bucket-list worthy guided winter tour of Yellowstone National Park, where the wonders of nature take on a whole new allure in the winter season. Follow the quick links below to Big Sky’s off-slope activities, or download the Big Sky app on your phone for easy planning at your fingertips! 

Dogsledding in Big Sky

Winter Fly Fishing with Gallatin River Guides

Nordic Skiing & Snowshoe Tours 

Sleigh Rides 

Snowmobile Rentals & Tours 

Guided Winter Yellowstone Tours from Big Sky 

Hot Springs near Big Sky

5. Make Dinner Reservations Now!


Equally important are reservations for your dining experiences in Big Sky. Big Sky has an amazing selection of restaurants or, for a true taste of Montana, book a sleigh ride dinner with cowboy singers, dine by candlelight in a backcountry yurt, or cozy up with cowboy cuisine on a dude ranch. During peak season, dinner reservations are required at most Big Sky restaurants and you’ll definitely want to plan ahead for Big Sky’s unique adventure dining experiences! 

Of course, you’ll want to warm up the evening with aprés ski and live music (no reservations required!) or, if you prefer fine dining in the comfort of home, reserve a private chef to bring a magical Montana holiday feast to you!

6. Schedule Your Festive Fun


For a small mountain town, Big Sky Montana knows how to celebrate the holiday season! Make sure you capture every moment of the festive magic by noting the array of enchanting events and festivities happening in Big Sky during the holiday season. Immerse yourself in the whimsical wonders of an enchanted forest, surprise the kids with photos and stories with Santa, browse the holiday markets, and witness the mesmerizing torchlight parade and fireworks illuminating Big Sky’s iconic Lone Peak. 

Check out our 2023-24 Big Sky Winter Events Calendar for holiday festivities and special events taking place during your stay.

7. Pack Essentials for Cold Weather


Big Sky’s winter temperatures can be chilly, so it’s important to pack the right essentials for a comfortable and enjoyable vacation. Make sure to include windproof and waterproof winter clothing to shield yourself from the cold, warm socks and insulated winter boots to keep your feet toasty, and accessories like beanies, gloves and hand warmers to protect against the chill. 

The mountain air is dry so include lip balm, moisturizer, and sunscreen to keep your skin feeling its best. If you happen to forget something, don’t fret! Big Sky Town Center and Mountain Village are home to local stores offering a diverse range of winter essentials including clothing, sports gear, and personal care items. These conveniently located shops serve as a swift solution for any unexpected needs during your stay.

8. Be Mindful of Altitude


When visiting Big Sky, it’s crucial to be mindful of the high altitude at play! The base elevation of Big Sky Resort sits at 7,500 feet above sea level, and the summit of Lone Peak soars to a staggering 11,000 feet, adding an extra element of adventure to your trip. Take a leisurely start on your first day to allow your body to acclimate gradually. 

Staying hydrated is key at these heights, so be sure to take breaks as needed and drink plenty of water, not alcohol! A lesser known fact, the effects of alcohol are more pronounced at higher elevations so take it easy this holiday season! Adventure awaits at every elevation in Big Sky, MT.

9. Check the Road Conditions!


Before traveling to Big Sky, check the road conditions and weather forecasts. Winter conditions can impact road safety, so it is essential to be prepared and informed about the route you plan to take. Please also download directions to your vacation rental prior to your travels. Cell phone signal can be spotty in the mountains and we want to ensure you reach your vacation rental with ease. 

Highway 191 to Big Sky is known for its wildlife crossings! This region is a habitat for bears, elk, moose, deer, bighorn sheep, foxes, and more! Always be wildlife aware, especially when driving, and follow the guidelines to observe wildlife from a safe distance. If you’d prefer to leave the driving to a local, regular airport shuttles and taxi services are available from Bozeman to Big Sky.

10. Book Direct for a Local Experience!


For a quintessential Big Sky adventure, the service of a local team, and the best lodging prices in Big Sky, book your stay directly with Big Sky Vacation Rentals. Whether it’s a contemporary ski condo, a cowboy cabin, or a luxury slopeside chalet, Big Sky Vacation Rentals offers a variety of accommodations to suit your group size and preferences. After a day of exploring, you’ll be unwinding in the comfort of your private holiday home, snuggled by the fireplace, and celebrating the holidays with your nearest and dearest, surrounded by the spectacular scenery of Big Sky, MT. 

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With these tips in mind, your holiday season travel to Big Sky Montana is sure to be filled with unforgettable moments and winter magic. Bundle up, hit the slopes, and savor every moment in this enchanting mountain retreat. Happy holidays and safe travels! 

All that’s left is to start planning your luxury slopeside vacation in Big Sky! Our team at Big Sky Vacation Rentals live here, work here and play here – we know Big Sky! 

For further assistance in trip planning, give our team a call at (888) 915-2787

Browse our Big Sky Vacation Blog for inspiration, download our Big Sky Vacation Guide for all the local information in one place, and book your stay with BSVR for a customized vacation experience and long lasting memories!


How To Plan A Big Sky Vacation This Winter


It’s no secret that Big Sky, Montana is booming! Big Sky Resort unveiled Big Sky 2025, a 10-year plan to invest $150-million and transform the resort and town of Big Sky into one of the top luxury alpine destinations in the US – “from the moment you touch ground in Montana to the top of Lone Peak”. 

As the final chapter of Big Sky 2025 unfolds, visitors to Big Sky Resort are welcomed with a world-class alpine experience, some of the most advanced chairlifts in the world, luxury on-mountain dining, and the soul and hospitality of a charming Montana mountain town community. 

SKI Mag has named Big Sky Resort one of the “Best Ski Resorts in the West”. Big Sky boasts the perfect blend of epic skiing and snowboarding (the Biggest in America!), outdoor activities beyond the slopes, vibey restaurants and aprés ski, and close proximity to Yellowstone National Park for bucket-list winter tours and experiences.


1. PICK YOUR DATES

If you’re planning your trip around a ski vacation, Big Sky Resort opens on Thanksgiving and celebrates the last day of the ski season mid-April. Snowfall is unpredictable but with Big Sky’s snowmaking expansion efforts, you’re always guaranteed a snowy slope! Our guide to the Best Time to Ski in Big Sky will help you find the perfect conditions to suit your ski style. 

If you’re visiting Big Sky to experience the outdoor activities beyond the slopes, Big Sky’s guided alpine activities and experiences and winter tours to Yellowstone operate from December to March.


2. ARRANGE YOUR TRAVELS

Whether you’re planning a family road trip or fly-drive vacation, it’s easy to get to Big Sky. Big Sky ranks as one of the most connected mountain destinations in the US with 40+ non-stop flights from over 30 destinations on the east and west coast. Reserve your car rental well in advance (demand is high!) or arrange ground transportation from Bozeman to Big Sky – and book a central Big Sky rental that doesn’t require a car. 

Our guide to Getting To & Around Big Sky will give you all the information you need to plan your  transportation to and around Big Sky.


3. PLAN YOUR BIG SKY TOURS & ACTIVITIES

The team at Big Sky Vacation Rentals are local and know the best places to stay and play in Big Sky! Download our Big Sky Vacation Guide for the most up to date local area resources and information, choose from our easy 3-Day and 5-Day winter itineraries, or customize your own Big Sky winter vacation bucket-list.

Big Sky Resort

With 5,850 acres of terrain over four mountains, seven snow parks with over 100 features, and the most technologically advanced lift network in North America, Big Sky Resort is unbeatable for skiing and snowboarding. The Big Sky ski school offers group and private lessons for all abilities, guided on-mountain experiences with a pro, and kids camps for little rippers as young as three. 

When you’re not riding the slopes, there’s endless options for on-mountain dining and vibey slopeside aprés ski (with plenty family-friendly options too!). Save time and reserve lift tickets early, arrange gear rentals delivered for delivery (or ship your own gear), and find a luxury vacation rental near Big Sky Resort with Big Sky Vacation Rentals.  

Off Slope Winter Activities

Whether you’re a non-skier or balancing your vacation time between the slopes and the wilderness of the Montana mountains, Big Sky has outdoor adventures for every type of traveler. Snowshoe the peaceful winter trails, fly fish for winter trout on the Gallatin River, snowmobile or dog-sled the canyons and mountain peaks, or plan a classic, western style sleigh ride dinner at Lone Mountain Ranch. Off slope winter activities abound for all ages and adventure levels in Big Sky.

Big Sky Town Center

Big Sky Town Center is the heart and soul of the Big Sky community. Situated near the Big Sky Nordic Center in Meadow Village, Town Center has the biggest selection of restaurants, breweries and festive aprés ski bars in Big Sky with daily happy hours, live music, and award-wining cuisine. For family fun (or a romantic swirl), the outdoor ice rink is open daily during the winter season. 

Yellowstone National Park

A vacation to Big Sky is not complete without a winter tour of Yellowstone National Park. Located only 50 miles from the West Entrance to Yellowstone, Big Sky is the ideal base camp for winter exploration of America’s oldest and most visited national park. Whether you plan to sightsee from the comfort of a heated snowcoach or on a thrilling snowmobile tour of Yellowstone, visitors are spoilt for choice for winter tours of Yellowstone departing directly from Big Sky. 


4. CHOOSE YOUR BIG SKY NEIGHBORHOOD

Now you have your bucket-list of Big Sky activities, it’s time to choose a neighborhood to match your needs. Stay walking distance to Big Sky Resort in Mountain Village, near Big Sky Town Center in Meadow Village or slopeside overlooking the Spanish Peaks in Moonlight Basin. View our Big Sky Neighborhood Guide to find the neighborhood that fits your needs the best.


5. BOOK YOUR STAY WITH BIG SKY VACATION RENTALS

Come play in Big Sky this winter – but don’t leave your trip planning to the last minute! From cozy Cowboy Heaven cabins for two to luxury ski-in/ski-out mountain lodges with unparalleled platinum perks, Big Sky Vacation Rentals represent the top luxury properties in Big Sky and Moonlight Basin with exceptional guest services from a local team. 

For a personal pick of the best ski rentals in Big Sky and to secure the Montana mountain home of your dreams, book your winter vacation with Big Sky Vacation Rentals. We live here, we play here, we know Big Sky!


Tips To Plan A Fall Trip To Yellowstone National Park


Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first and most famous National Park! Yellowstone is huge, and spans over 2 million acres and across three states (Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana), it has five entrances and just as many visitor centers, and welcomes nearly 5 million visitors annually. With those types of stats, it’s easy to see why everyone loves this national treasure!

The summer months account for over half of the annual visitors to Yellowstone National Park, with more than 1 million visitors in July alone. The best way to escape the crowds at Yellowstone is to visit in the off season. Fall is the perfect time to avoid the masses of tourists, reconnect and recreate in nature, and witness some of the most spectacular geothermal features in the world surrounded by the beauty of fall colors and Yellowstone’s local wildlife preparing for winter. 

Here’s our guide to the best time to visit Yellowstone for fall foliage, activities and attractions to include in your itinerary, and where to stay to experience the beauty of Yellowstone National Park in fall.


1. Pick Your Dates for Prime Fall Foliage

The first signs of fall appear in late August – there’s a cooler nip in the air, layers of sunrise frost blanket the valleys, and the higher elevations above 7,000 feet begin to turn to glorious shades of gold. From mid-September to mid-October the fall foliage cascades from the upper elevations down to the lower valleys with hues of golden yellows, burnt oranges and brilliant reds adding contrast to Yellowstone’s captivating landscapes.

September

Low 30oF – High 64oF

Fall colors above 7,000 feet

September is still a popular time to visit Yellowstone so be prepared for potential crowds of tourists (far fewer than summer!) and traffic lines of enthusiastic leaf peepers and wildlife viewers. September highlights include the famous elk rut near Mammoth Hot Springs, the fascinating raptor migration in the Hayden Valley, and a higher chance of incredible bear sightings as the black bears and grizzly bears prepare for winter hibernation foraging for berries, nuts and roots in the valleys and roadside meadows.

October

Low 22oF – High 51oF

Fall colors below 7,000 feet

By October the fall foliage in the lower elevations is vibrant, the crowds have dissipated, the roads are quieter, and the chance of wildlife sightings is climbing! The Yellowstone Park restaurants, services and facilities begin to close down mid-October, and the weather is unpredictable! Light snowfalls can begin as early as October in Yellowstone so pack your layers and be prepared for potential dangerous winter driving conditions and road closures – or take a guided Yellowstone tour!

November

Low 12oF – High 34oF

Fall colors fading

By November the fall colors have faded, the peaks are blanketed with snow, and most of the roads within Yellowstone National Park are closed. The Visitor Center at the West Entrance remains open year round, however entrance to the park is limited. Yellowstone winter tours begin early November with amazing private and group experiences from wolf watching and wildlife tours to snowshoe tours, snowmobile expeditions and unique backcountry experiences.


2. Plan Your Fall Attractions & Activities

For the ultimate fall trip to Yellowstone National Park, we highly recommend booking a guided Yellowstone tour with a local tour company. An experienced local guide has an in-depth knowledge of Yellowstone’s diverse ecosystems and natural wonders, wonderful stories to share, and will ensure you visit the top sightseeing spots during fall. 

Scenic Drives: Firehole Canyon Drive and Firehole Lake Drive.

Natural Hot Springs: Firehole River near Madison Junction.

Waterfalls: Fairy Falls and Firehole Falls.

Geological Wonders: Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful, Artists Paintpots, Norris Geyser, Mammoth Hot Springs

Wildlife Viewing: Hayden Valley, Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley.

Fall Fly Fishing: The Madison River is a hot spot for fall flying fishing.


3. Expand Your Exploration Beyond Yellowstone

Situated only 50 miles north of the West Entrance, Big, Sky Montana is the ideal base camp for a trip to Yellowstone -and is fast becoming one of the top travel spots in the western USA worthy of every vacation bucket-list. 

In 2021, Big Sky was voted one of the “Best Ski Resorts in the West”, one of the “Best Mountain Towns to Visit in the USA”, and one of “The Coolest Towns in America to Visit in 2021”. Big Sky was also ranked as an extraordinary destination to explore in “The World’s Greatest Places of 2021” by Time USA.

Expand your exploration out of the park and stay in Big Sky, MT. Tours of Yellowstone National Park depart right from the heart of Big Sky (or from your front door if you choose a private trip!). After your fall trip to Yellowstone, you can join in end of season golfing and summer activities at Big Sky Resort, hike or bike through vibrant fall foliage on Big Sky’s epic network of trails, flyfish the Gallatin River, horseback ride, or simply stay home, soak up the views, and stargaze from your private hot tub!


4. Stay with Big Sky Vacation Rentals

Whether you choose to stay minutes from the action in Mountain Village or Big Sky Town Center or in a secluded setting for stargazing and wildlife viewing from home, our collection of luxury Big Sky rentals is sure to include a private mountain cabin near Yellowstone National Park, perfect for you!

Mountain Village

Browse our selection of 70+ custom vacation homes, cabins and ski condos in the heart of Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Village at the base of Lone Peak. Our convenient Big Sky Resort lodging ranges from 2 bedroom contemporary condos overlooking Lake Levinsky to rare 7 bedroom modern mountain chalets for a family reunion near Yellowstone.

Meadow Village

Our collection of 4 to 6 bedroom Meadow Village condos and custom lodges are conveniently situated close to shopping, dining and world-class golf in Big Sky Town Center. Meadow Village is an easy 7-mile drive or free shuttle ride to Big Sky Resort Mountain Village.

Moonlight Basin

Moonlight Basin is a Big Sky neighborhood perched high on ski runs and trails of Lone Mountain. Whether you’re seeking a secluded and cozy mountain cabin or an exclusive mountain lodge for a large group getaway, even the most distinguished guests will find their luxury Yellowstone retreat in Moonlight Basin.

Start planning your fall visit to Yellowstone with Big Sky Vacation Rentals. Browse our collection of vacation rentals near Yellowstone, download our Big Sky Vacation Guide for trip planning, or call our team of local experts who are happy to help with tour suggestions for Yellowstone, local Big Sky recommendations, and find you a Yellowstone vacation rental to match your needs. 


History of Big Sky, Montana


Big Sky, MT is tucked midway down the Gallatin River Canyon, halfway between historic Bozeman and the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Traveling to Big Sky on Highway 191 (“The Scenic Yellowstone Corridor”), you wind your way along the raging Gallatin River, surrounded by dramatic Rocky Mountain landscapes, miles of secluded wilderness, free roaming bears, moose and bighorn (often on the road), and the grandeur of Montana’s big skies. 

But, where did it all begin, who forged these original trails through the mountains, and what led to the success of Big Sky Resort, a world-class ski destination that gets bigger and better each year? Big Sky’s journey dates back thousands of years to Native American hunter-gathers, notorious mountain men, gold miners, homesteaders, and humble beginnings as a purpose built ski town inspired by the dream of one man.


Native American Hunter-Gatherers

The Gallatin Canyon was first explored by Native American hunter-gathers that regularly trekked along the Gallatin Crest. The tribes set up camp on the banks of the Gallatin River, foraging for plant food and hunting for deer, elk and bison that frequented the lush high alpine meadows. While the Gallatin Valley was never claimed by any specific Native American tribes, archaeological studies show many tribes passed through the Big Sky region including Blackfeet, Nez Perce, Crow, Flathead, Sioux, and Shoshone Indian tribes.


Lewis & Clark

In 1804, explorers Captain Meriweather Lewis & Lieutenant William Clark set out to discover new land acquired in the Louisiana Purchase, a voyage that covered more than 8,000 miles and four time zones. Lewis & Clark reached the three forks of the Missouri River in Montana in July 1805, naming the three tributaries – the Gallatin River after Secretary of Treasury Albert Gallatin, the Madison River, in honor of Secretary of State James Madison, and the Jefferson River after President Thomas Jefferson.


The Fur Trade & Gold Rush

Following in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark, next came the European fur-trappers, mountain men, and gold prospectors searching for wealth in the 1862 Montana Gold Rush. Fur trading prospered until 1840, but the trappers and colorful mountain men were only passing through and did not settle in the Gallatin Valley. The gold prospectors did not find their riches in the Gallatin Valley and moved west to Virginia City and Bannack, the site of Montana’s first major gold discovery.  


The First Homesteaders

With the expansion of the Northern Pacific Railroad into Bozeman in 1883, rough logging roads were cut through the canyon to transport pine trees to build the railroad. This created a trail for ranchers to drive herds of sheep, cattle and horses over the pass into the Gallatin Canyon. With the 1862 Homestead Act in place, ranchers began staking out their 160 acre homesteads in the meadows along the banks of the Gallatin River, building cabins, and settling in the Gallatin Canyon. 

One of these ranchers was Augustus Franklin Crail, the first homesteader in Big Sky. In December 1901, Crail purchased a 160-acre homestead with a small cabin (only $1 per acre), which over the years expanded to a 960-acre working ranch. Today, the ranch land is home to the Big Sky Golf Course, and the beautifully preserved historic Crail Ranch buildings are a local treasure, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The grounds are open for walking tours and visitors can take a guided or self-guided tour of the homestead museum with original artifacts, photographs and furniture from the Crail family.


Yellowstone Brings Tourism to Gallatin Valley

Tourism in the Gallatin Valley began as early as the late 1800s. Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 and local ranchers saw an opportunity, encouraging visitors to Yellowstone to extend their vacation and stay on an authentic Montana dude ranch! Only $12 to stay a week + $6 for a horse. 

In 1898, Pete Karst homesteaded just north of Big Sky, setting up Karst Camp, an inn for visitors to Yellowstone with home brewed liquor sneakily served during the prohibition. The historic remains of Karst Camp still stand today with a few original buildings and a short hiking trail leading to an old asbestos mine. 

In 1915, Big Sky’s Lone Mountain Ranch was homesteaded as a working cattle and horse ranch and sold twelve years later as a dude ranch for vacationers. Today, visitors to Big Sky can experience a taste of the old wild west with unique experiences at Lone Mountain Ranch, including dog-sledding, Nordic skiing, old-western sleigh ride dinners in the winter, and horseback rides, fly-fishing, hiking, and biking in the summer months. 


Montana Skiing Arrives at Big Sky Resort

Chet Huntley, newscaster of NBC’s nightly “Huntley-Brinkley Report”, had a dream to return to his Montana roots, develop a small mountain ski village and golf course, and promote the tourism industry in Montana. At this time, only a handful or ranchers had permanently settled along the West Fork of the Gallatin River

In 1970, Chet Huntley retired from NBC, purchased Crail Ranch and began to fulfill his dream of building a ski resort in the Rocky Mountains. The historic Crail Ranch buildings were used to house the workers building the resort, the ranch land was transformed to the classic links-style Big Sky Golf Course by Arnold Palmer, and the original Huntley Lodge was built at the base of Big Sky’s iconic Lone Peak. Stop by Chet’s Bar at the Huntley Lodge for a toast when you’re in town! 

In September 1973, Ski Magazine made a grand announcement “Montana skiing has arrived!” and in December, Big Sky Resort opened for its first winter ski season with four ski lifts. Sadly, Chet Huntley died of lung cancer shortly after on March 20, 1974, just three days before the grand opening of Big Sky Resort. Here’s a blast from the past – the first promotional video for Big Sky Resort.


Boyne Resorts Acquires Big Sky Resort

In 1976, Everett Kircher, honored as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Skiers of All Time”, purchased Big Sky Resort expanding Boyne Resorts portfolio of premier mountain and golf resorts. There was a gravel road from Highway 191 to the resort base and one flight to Bozeman, from Billings! 

Led by Everett Kircher, Boyne Resorts invented the Boyne Snowmaker and pioneered the design of snow grooming equipment, a technology still used today. In 1981, Boyne Resort’s state of the art snowmaking system was installed at Big Sky Resort guaranteeing good snow conditions all season long. The installation of the Challenger lift in 1988 opened up access to some of the most epic expert terrain in the US, putting Big Sky Resort on the radar of every die hard skier and snowboarder. 

In 1995, the construction of the Lone Peak Tram took Big Sky Resort expert skiing to higher altitudes, 11,166 feet at the summit of Lone Peak. The tram increased the vertical drop at Big Sky Resort to 4,350 feet, one of the biggest vertical drops in North America. Dropping into the Big Couloir, a 1,400 ft chute with a 50-degree slope straight from the summit, became a big bucket-list experience for expert rippers and shredders.


Moonlight Basin Ski Resort

In December 2003, Moonlight Basin Ski Resort opened on the northern face of Lone Mountain with 1,900 acres of terrain ranging from gentle cruisers to steep chutes. The development struggled and in 2013, Big Sky Resort acquired Moonlight Basin becoming the “Biggest Skiing in America” with over 5,850 acres of diverse terrain, epic ski runs for all abilities, and uncrowded slopes.


Big Sky 2025 – A Vision for the Future of Big Sky Resorts

In 2016, Big Sky Resort unveiled Big Sky 2025: A Vision for the Future of Big Sky Resorts.

“Big Sky 2025 is an ambitious 10-year vision transforming the Big Sky experience from the moment you touch ground in Montana to the top of Lone Peak.”

To date, completed projects include the installation of the brand-new Challenger 3 chairlift, Powder Seeker 6 (the first state-of-the-art Big Sky Blue Bubble with heated seats), Ramcharger 8 (the first 8-seat chairlift in North America), Swift Current high-speed quad, and new magic carpets in the learning areas (including a Big Sky Blue Bubble magic carpet dome). In 2021, Big Sky Resort completed snowmaking expansion and extensive renovations to the Summit Hotel and Huntley Lodge. Future Big Sky 2025 projects include enhancements to Big Sky Mountain Village, the replacement of the Lone Peak Tram, a new tram terminal with a glass viewing platform at the summit of Lone Peak, a two-stage gondola, and unique on-mountain dining experiences.


As Big Sky Resort continues to add amenities to enhance the overall experience, Big Sky Vacation Rentals are continually increasing our portfolio of hand-picked vacation homes to enhance your stay. Spend your vacation in Meadow Village, the original Crail ranch and homestead, slopeside in Big Sky’s Mountain Village, or in the seclusion of the Spanish Peaks in Moonlight Basin

Big Sky Vacation Rentals have been welcoming guests to Big Sky for 15 years. We represent the top 125 luxury vacation rentals in Big Sky with exclusive platinum perks, high-end vacation amenities, and exceptional guest services from our local team. We look forward to welcoming you to Big Sky!


Big Sky Town Center Summer Events 2023


Escape the mundane and explore miles of wilderness for hiking, biking, horseback riding, ATV adventures, ziplining, river rafting, and famous blue-ribbon fly fishing. Big Sky Resort opens up its world-famous ski slopes for classic summer alpine adventures and the town is abuzz with locals and tourists soaking up the sunshine, swimming and boating on Lake Levinsky, dining on outdoor patios, and living the laid-back mountain life.Summer is the best season to plan a getaway to Big Sky, and the the Town Center is a destination for family fun, fab festivals & all things farmers’ markets.

Situated in Meadow Village, Big Sky Town Center is a year-round destination for family fun, fab festivals, summer farmers markets, and world-class golfing. Big Sky Town Center is the heart and soul of the Big Sky community, the best place to shop, dine and sip local craft beer, and a hangout for locals and visitors alike. 

Throughout the summer Big Sky Town Center is the central hub for some of the biggest events in Big Sky and free festivals. Nothing beats browsing vibrant mountain markets, listening to live music in an iconic outdoor arena with top touring bands, and enjoying free fun for the whole family. 

Here are 4 events not to miss at Big Sky Town Center this summer:


#1 – BIG SKY FARMERS MARKET

WHEN: Wednesdays – June 7 to September 28, 2023

Big Sky Town Center

Every Wednesday from June to September, the Big Sky Farmers Market comes to Big Sky Town Center, and it’s one of our favorite events of the year! The Big Sky Farmers Market features 90+ vendors ranging from regional farmers with fresh local produce to eclectic craftsmen with creative arts, crafts, and one-of-a-kind treasures found only at Big Sky Farmers Market. The market is family-friendly with fun activities for the kids, the setting is spectacular with Lone Peak looming in the background, and the small-town charm of Big Sky is evident at every stall!


#2 – MUSIC IN THE MOUNTAINS

WHEN: Thursdays – June 22 to September 7, 2023

Center Stage in Len Hill Park, Big Sky Town Center

Thursday evenings, rain or shine, you’ll find an amazing lineup of talented artists at Music in the Mountains, Montana’s finest free outdoor concert hosted by the Arts Council of Big Sky. The Music in the Mountain series takes place on Center Stage and includes 12 weeks of free family-friendly concerts, the Bravo! Big Sky Music Festival (formerly the Big Sky Classical Music Festival), and a special free performance from Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. View the full line-up for Music in the Mountains 2023 HERE!


#3 – BIG SKY PBR RODEO

WHEN: July 20 to July 22, 2023

Big Sky Events Arena

There’s still time to book your vacation condo or cabin for Big Sky’s biggest week of the year, the award-winning PBR Rodeo. The PBR event includes three nights of Touring Pro Division professional bull riding events, mutton bustin’ for the little buckaroos, and fun nightly after-party concerts with live music. The PBR event is sold out with a waiting list, however, you can still get tickets for the nightly music events!


#4 – 2023 WILDLANDS FESTIVAL

WHEN: August 4 to August 6, 2023

Big Sky Events Arena

Produced by Outlaw Partners, the Wildlands Festival is one of the biggest music events of the summer! The outdoor music festival celebrates a mutual love for music and Big Sky’s wild and scenic landscapes and features a two-day star-studded lineup with world-class artists taking center stage at the Big Sky Events Arena. Tickets to the Wildlands Festival sell fast and availability is limited! A percentage of all ticket sales for the Wildlands Festival are donated to local nonprofits for the preservation and protection of the wildlands of Big Sky.

Tickets to the Wildlands Festival sell fast and availability is limited! A percentage of all ticket sales for Wildlands Festival are donated to local nonprofits for preservation and protection of the wildlands of Big Sky.


Where to Stay near Big Sky Town Center

Big Sky has three main neighborhoods: Mountain Village at Big Sky Resort, Moonlight Basin on the slopes of Lone Mountain, and Meadow Village, the nearest neighborhood to Big Sky Town Center. 

Big Sky Vacation Rentals offers a selection of luxury vacation homes and condos walking distance to Big Sky Town Center, the Big Sky Golf Course, and some of the top trailheads in Big Sky! Our vacation homes are fully-equipped with modern comforts, luxury amenities and all the bells and whistles for a memorable Big Sky vacation. 

Whether you’re planning a golf getaway, romantic escape or family reunion in Big Sky, Big Sky Town Center is a destination for endless summer fun and the team at Big Sky Vacation Rentals are ready to help you plan your trip and find your dream vacation home in the Montana mountains! 

Find more vacation inspiration in our Big Sky vacation blog and download our Big Sky Vacation Guide app so you don’t miss a thing that Big Sky has to offer, year-round!