Alpine playground: Wayfarer’s ultimate guide to skiing Big Sky Resort in Montana

by James Wilkinson

Located in one of America’s most picturesque and remote states, Big Sky Resort in Montana is all about space, vertical feet, world-class hospitality and the opportunity to get up close to nature and wildlife while enjoying some of the best skiing on the planet as James Wilkinson discovers.

Ski-in, ski-out at Big Sky Resort’s Summit Hotel


Big Sky Resort in Montana, which turned 50 in late 2023, carries legendary status when it comes to American ski towns and they say here it’s ‘The Biggest Skiing in America’ and they aren’t wrong, given here there is 5,800 acres of skiable terrain and 4,350 feet of vertical spanning across four mountains.

Here you will be surrounded by the beauty of the Greater Yellowstone Region, while taking in a perfect turn on a bluebird day and relaxing at the base of the mountain with a glass of wine in hand after.

Impressively, more than 2,300 of those acres are dedicated to beginner and intermediate terrain, which Mountain Sports School ski instructors here call the best for learning to ski in North America.


Big Sky offers some of the best Spring skiing in America

At Big Sky, it’s all about space and with more than an acre per skier on average, you’ll feel like you have the runs to yourself right across the resort.

There is 300 degrees of skiing off of Big Sky’s famed Lone Peak and that means you’ll never ski the same line twice. Here, you can carve down 4,350 vertical feet of skiing, the most in the state of Montana and most of North America.

Headlining the skiing and boarding experience is the new Lone Peak Tram, which began carrying guests to the resort’s 11,166-foot summit in mid-December 2023, exactly 50 years and four days from Big Sky Resort’s inaugural opening day in 1973.

Head up the Lone Peak tram for some of Big Sky’s best runs

The new tram is a complete replacement of the original jig-back gondola built in 1995 and this state-of-the-art aerial tram technology is newly routed to carry more passengers spaciously up 2,142 vertical feet in just under five minutes.

According to Big Sky Resort President and CEO, Taylor Middleton, the Lone Peak Tram is an engineering marvel positioned to serve as a gateway to experience one of North America’s most spectacular summits on Lone Mountain.

“The original tram opened the high alpine terrain of Lone Mountain to skiers and riders, and the new tram is symbolic of the experiential transformation we are endeavouring to accomplish through our Big Sky 2025 vision,” Middleton said.


Big Sky Resort President and CEO, Taylor Middleton, talks about the new Lone Peak tram

“This world-class summit experience is now serviced by a modern tram that will open up possibilities never contemplated until now, in both winter and summer.”

After two years of construction and many more years of planning, the new Lone Peak Tram marks a significant milestone in the resort’s 50th year.

Middleton said it allows for completely new ways to enjoy skiing the mountain’s high alpine eastern and southern exposures and will open up countless other experiences yet to be unveiled.

Big Sky Resort offers 4,350 feet of vertical feet

“The tram complex will evolve in the years ahead, with the addition of a breathtaking observation experience planned at the upper terminal in both the winter and summer season,” Middleton said.

“Plans for the tram also include an architecturally stunning lower terminal enclosure and a mountaintop food and beverage facility housed in the old top terminal of the original tram.”

Alongside the Lone Peak Tram, Big Sky also recently added the Ramcharger 8 and Swift Current 6 chairlifts, which boast speed and comfort with heated seats and weatherproof bubbles.

The new Lone Peak Tram is part of a base-to-summit lift network that will more fully come to life by the end of the decade, starting with the addition of the Explorer Gondola, scheduled to open for winter 25/26.

Without the crowds at Big Sky Resort, you have runs to yourself

Big Sky is also adding its second eight-seater and third state-of-the-art D-line chairlift replacing the existing Six Shooter lift.

The new eight-place lift will effectively double the uphill capacity while reducing ride time by 30%, offering guests swift and comfortable access to Big Sky Resort’s north side terrain from the Madison Base Area.

This lift will also set a new record globally as the longest eight-place installation in the world.

Middleton said this new lift network will create improved access to the resort’s premier learning terrain, accessible to pedestrians for the first time ever, and complemented with new food and beverage experiences.

Book a private lesson with Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Sports School


The Mountain Sports School at Big Sky Resort is known its world-caliber instructors and top quality is what you can expect, be it in a lesson or private one-on-ones.

With 5,850 acres of skiable terrain, ski instructors and mountain guides can help you navigate the mountain – with 320 runs and 38 lifts, there is a lot to explore – and give you some pointers for several days across the resort.

The kids lessons at the Mountain Sports School are also fantastic and with small group sizes, your little one is bound to jump up a grade after a few days at the resort and gain some valuable confidence.

Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Sports School offers world-class lessons


While skiing and boarding is the number one thing you’ll want to visit Big Sky for, there are some fantastic adventures to be had in the area, including a visit to the legendary Yellowstone National Park, plus dogsledding and much more.

It’s no surprise Yellowstone National Park carries world-famous status because what’s on offer here is magical, enchanting, mesmerising and mind-blowing, from the geysers to the waterfalls, scenery and animals that call this park home.

Book a snowcoach tour with Yellowstone Vacation Tours

While many see Yellowstone in summer, it’s in winter when you truly can get a magical experience because under a thick blanket of snow, the Park becomes virtually silent, broken only by the hiss of steam from thermal features, the burble of flowing rivers, and the occasional whine of a distant snowmobile. The crowds are at an absolute minimum while nature remains in full display.

Old Faithful is America’s most famous geyser

Go on a winter adventure through the park with Yellowstone Vacation Tours on a big-wheeled snowcoach – the only way to see the park in winter alongside a snowmobile, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing – and along the way, you’ll see thermal pools, wild animals (including elk, moose, bison, foxes and more) and witness one of Yellowstone’s star attractions in a setting few visitors will ever see, an eruption of the legendary Old Faithful geyser in winter.

Go dogsledding with Spirt of the North

A short drive from Big Sky is one of the coolest activities in the area, a dogsled ride with Spirt of the North. Here, be taken on an adventure through the snow and trees with a team Alaskan huskies, many that have competed in some of North America’s legendary dogsled races. Trips take around two hours and depend on weather and trail conditions.

Explore the thriving Big Sky town center

There’s also plenty of things to do in the town of Big Sky, from shopping to galleries, dining and bars. Some top spots to swing by include Montana Supply for mountain inspired goods for the modern explorer; the Ryan Turner Art Gallery for a vast collection of local wildlife, dramatic landscapes and abstracts of nature from the Greater Yellowstone area and Big Sky’s backyard; Beehive Basin Brewery for hand crafted brews in a small tap room; and Pinky G’s Pizzeria for hand tossed pizza, music, sports and beer with a low-key local’s vibe.

The Summit Hotel at Big Sky is located in the heart of the village


Big Sky Resort has some fantastic hotels on offer at both the base of the mountain that feature ski-in, ski-out and in the town of Big Sky, a few miles away, which is one America’s most happening new ski towns.

Mountainside, the Summit Hotel in the heart of the Big Sky Resort village offers an ultimate ski-in, ski-out experience complete stylish rooms, fantastic dining, an indoor-outdoor pool, spa and ski concierge. Here, head to Carabiner off the lobby for apres drinks and tasty treats, Peaks for steaks and fine American wine and enjoy suites with full kitchens and cozy living areas.

The Wilson Hotel is one of Montana’s best new properties

In the town of Big Sky a short drive away, book a room at The Wilson Hotel, one of Montana’s newest, stylish and most affordable properties that has spacious rooms and suites with kitchenettes, a heated outdoor pool and fantastic dining experiences. Book a table at Block 3 Kitchen and Bar, which offers seafood, burgers, steaks and delicious charcuterie and cheese blocks alongside the best whiskey and cocktail lists in Big Sky.

Alpine dining at its best at Everett’s 8800


Big Sky Resort has dining options aplenty on the mountain, in the village and down in the town of Big Sky a few miles away.

Atop the Ramcharger 8 chairlift, Everett’s 8800 can lay claim to be one of America’s best on-mountain restaurants thanks to an exceptional menu from Executive Chef Henry Mills that’s loaded-up with farm-to-table produce alongside some of America’s best wines. Don’t skip past the morel mushrooms with Marchand de vin, shallots and garlic, while the filet mignon au poivre with Brandy cream, root vegetables and confit fingerling is also a winner. Also expect a fantastic cocktail list and the restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner. Bookings are recommended as reservations fill-up quick.

Head to Carabiner for après

At the base of the village and located inside the Summit Hotel, Carabiner is the go-to for après drinks and American and Asian eats – order the ahi poke and the Reuben – in both the lounge with a fireplace, or on the newly renovated patio which offers views up the mountain to Lone Peak. Also expect live music, complimentary cookies and milk for the kids and bespoke cocktails (you’ll be hard pressed to skip past a Spritz for Spring).

Vista Hall is ideal for lunch breaks

For a casual bite between runs in the village, head to the Vista Hall, where there are a range of food options from pizza to burgers, sushi and tacos alongside a bar for local craft brews, wines and spirits. For a grab and go at breakfast or lunch, quick pick-me-ups and essentials to make dinner in the room, head to the Hungry Moose Market and Deli.

Block 3 offers Montana’s best steaks and cocktails

In the town of Big Sky, expect a range of cuisines from Mexican to pizzas, Thai and one of Montana’s top steakhouses and cocktail dens in the form of Block 3 Kitchen and Bar, where you’ll find seafood, burgers, steaks and delicious charcuterie and cheese blocks alongside the best whiskey and cocktail lists in the state. Go for the butcher’s block, which is loaded up with hand cut prime, Wagyu, aged beef and a variety of regional and Montana game like Elk loin, Bison ribeye and Venison rack. The truffle mac and cheese is also fantastic, as is the crispy skin steelhead trout. Given the top whiskey list, a barrel aged Manhattan should also be in order. Save room for the signature maple glazed doughnuts and all of it comes alongside fantastic service and hospitality.

The sleigh ride dinner at Lone Mountain Ranch is a must-do in Big Sky

For a truly unique dinner experience, book in for a sleigh ride dinner at Lone Mountain Ranch, close to the town of Big Sky. Here, you’ll take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the woods to an oil-lantern-lit cabin for a family-style prime rib dinner. The cowboy singer-storytellers provide dinner entertainment – and tell a few jokes and tales along the way – and it makes for a brilliant Old West experience. Available from December through April and bookings are essential.

Enjoy music, fantastic food and tales aplenty during the sleigh ride dinner


The best way of getting to Bozeman in comfort and style.

United’s brilliant Polaris Business Class cabin

WAYFARER recommends flying to Bozeman, Montana on United Airlines, which offers daily flights to the city from across America (including Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco) and around the world.

Big Sky Resort is a 1.5-hour drive from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport and private transfers and shuttles are available. For a seamless experience, book ahead with companies like Big Sky Country Transport for a seamless ride from the airport to Big Sky.

Book a ticket on the long-haul sector in United’s Polaris Business Class cabin, which features flatbed seats, pyjamas (on flights over 12 hours), all-new Saks Fifth Avenue bedding and onboard amenities from Therabody – including a kit that features an eye serum, face spray, hand cream and cleansing towelette exclusive to United customers – alongside fantastic inflight food and drinks (including an a new, brilliant wine menu), premium noise-reducing headphones and fantastic inflight hospitality.

It’s an exciting time for United, with the carrier dramatically increasing Asia-Pacific and European services and debuting new United Clubs across the network.