Big Sky, Montana is nestled amid woodlands and mountain meadows with the majestic Lone Mountain Peak towering 11,000 feet above. Surrounded by Spanish Peaks Wilderness and Gallitin Forest and privy to some of Montana’s best powder, Big Sky vacations are a winter and summer retreat for outdoor enthusiasts. Use the suggestions in this Big Sky Travel Guide to assist in your Big Sky vacation planning and enjoy the crisp mountain scenery for less cash with Big Sky vacation rentals.

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What to Do in Big Sky

big sky snowboarding

Ski and Snowboard

Because of its famous powder and awesome panoramas, Big Sky Resort is one of the premier skiing destinations in the lower United States. Skiers and boarders will delight in three mountains’ worth of terrain that’s diverse enough to satisfy all skill levels. Boarders can test their skills on the half pipe, beginners can take lessons, and experienced snow adventurers can hop on the Lone Peak Tram for intense vertical drops. (You can ride the tram back down if double diamond runs aren’t for you, but the view is incredible!) Space is a trademark on these Big Sky hillsides; even on holiday weekends, you’re likely to avoid lift lines and have plenty of elbow room.

At Lone Mountain Ranch, cross-country skiers will find more than forty miles of well-maintained, nationally renowned trails just a few minutes from Big Sky vacation rentals. If you’re just getting started or want a guide, lessons and tours are available.

Play in the Snow

Moose Tracks, a path designated for snowshoeing, begins at the base of the Andesite and Lone Mountains, or you can drive about an hour from your Big Sky vacation rental and snowshoe in Yellowstone Park. There is a tube park at Big Sky Resort for kids of all ages, and Big Sky vacations also feature the excitement of snowmobiling, the magic of sleigh rides, and the unique experience of dog sledding.

big sky water sports

River Adventures

Big Sky is well known for its blue-ribbon trout streams, and the Madison, Gallitin, Firehole, and Yellowstone Rivers are available for both traditional anglers and fly-fisherman to try their luck. Float or wade and soak up the Montana landscape while dangling your line. Whatever you catch, you can bring home to grill in your Big Sky vacation rental.

For whitewater thrills, book a trip with Geyser Whitewater Expeditions, a highly rated excursion company with years of experience and personal attention to make your family feel comfortable and safe. Paddle the rapids in a raft or kayak down Gallitin River for an adventure guaranteed to pull your kids away from their iPhones.

Mountain Activities

Exploring the wilderness is a must for any Big Sky vacation. Hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and mountain biking on sun-speckled trails and flower filled meadows are just some of the recreational highlights a summer Big Sky vacation entails. Take the gondola up to Lone Peak for awe-inspiring vistas or hike in Lee Metcalf Spanish Peaks Wilderness. Whatever outdoor pastimes are your family’s favorites, a Big Sky vacation is sure to please.

More Warm Weather Fun

Paintball, high ropes courses, picturesque rides on ski lifts, and literally zipping through forests on a zipline are a few more summer and spring ideas for family outings during your Big Sky vacation. There is also the Big Sky Golf Course, a par 72, 18-hole course that curves along the edge of the Gallitin River for beautiful scenery that compliments the championship green. Disc golf at Mountain Village follows a winding course down the scenic mountainside, and tennis can be played, too.

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What to See in Big Sky

big sky vacation

A 1900s Ranch

Visit the Historic Crail Ranch, a homestead built in 1905. Tour the log structure or hike the surrounding trail. There are also often history lectures and rotating activities for the kids including harmonica and fly-fishing classes, old-fashioned game days, and even photography workshops.

Yellowstone National Park

Just a few minutes’ drive from your Big Sky vacation rental is one of the most beautiful and popular national parks. Watch geysers spewing water into the air and herds of bison grazing on green hills, and keep your eyes peeled for wolves and moose. Big Sky vacation rentals are in the unique position of being a base camp for an affordable Yellowstone vacation with the added bonus of all the extras Big Sky vacations have to offer.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Big Sky

big sky shoppingThe Mountain Mall and Plaza is where you can find those T-shirt souvenirs with cartoon pictures of bears and moose that friends and family who didn’t join your Big Sky vacation will be expecting. Recreation and sports gear can be found at Big Sky Sports, and Provisions has resort wear and gifts, but there are dozens of shops and galleries to browse on your Big Sky vacation.

The Big Sky Farmers Market has nearly one hundred vendors who sell fresh produce, herbs, and flowers as well as artisans offering furniture, antler art pieces, jewelry, photography, and more. Check out this unique craft and food market every Wednesday during summer.

Resort dining at its finest awaits you at Buck’s T-4 restaurant, where tender Montana beef and mouthwatering seafood are prepared by a creative chef. For sandwiches, the Wrap Shack and Hungry Moose Market and Deli will make you portable lunches, and Lone Peak Brewery is great for tasting microbrews. M.R. Hummers is the place for burgers and ribs, La Luna is your best bet for Mexican cravings, Lotus Pad serves yummy Asian fare, and the Blue Moon Bakery is ideal for fueling up on fresh baked goods in the morning before you head out to play.

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When to Visit Big Sky

When you visit depends on what you want to experience in your Big Sky vacation. Winter season starts near Thanksgiving and runs until the middle of April. Kick off the winter holidays at the Boots and Belles Ball, a Yellowstone area tradition, and then watch the torchlight parades and fireworks on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

In May, snow run-off hits the Gallitin River and fills it with white water perfect for rafting and trout ready to be hooked. In early summer, wildlife viewing is at its best, as elk, deer, moose, and even bighorn sheep appear in lower valleys to feed their young.

Summer in Big Sky means outdoor festivities such as the Big Sky Arts Festival, Chili Cook-Off, Rodeo, and Music in the Mountains, a free concert series. The Fourth of July in Big Sky is a celebration to remember, and at this elevation, even the hottest month’s temperatures rarely rise above ninety.

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What to Bring to Big Sky

The season and itinerary of your Big Sky vacation will determine what you should bring. Footwear is the hardest thing to replace on short notice, so bring water shoes if you’re planning to raft and good hiking boots for trail trekking. In winter, it’s important to have waterproof ski clothes to prevent frozen limbs, and at least two extra pairs of wool socks to keep those toes toasty.

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Local Services in Big sky

Friendly people are the best resources you can use on your Big Sky vacation. Grizzly Outfitters provides information about trails, maps, and equipment rentals, and most shop owners and waiters will be glad to pass on their tips. Standard safety services are in place, and tour group outings rather than solitary ventures are the easiest way to ensure your family is protected.

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What to Know About Big Sky

Sunscreen is a must here, especially on your face. Even in winter when it doesn’t feel hot, at this altitude, it’s a no-no to head outside your Big Sky vacation rental without slathering on your SPF 30 or higher. Remember, too, that the temperature can change quickly and it can be ten to twenty degrees cooler as you head up mountain trails, so dress in layers and always carry a light jacket.

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Getting to Big Sky

Gallitin Field Airport near Bozeman, Montana is the closest airport to Big Sky vacation rentals, about an hour’s drive away. Not all airlines service this airport, so for more flights and air travel options, Billings and Butte, Montana, and Salt Lake City, Utah are within driving distance of Big Sky. You’ll most likely want to rent a car anyway to cart your family to all those outdoor adventures your Big Sky vacation has in store.

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Why Big Sky vacation rentals?

After active days of swooshing down snowy slopes or rafting raging rivers, wouldn’t it be nice to come home to the privacy and amenities of Big Sky vacation rentals? Sip hot chocolate and play games with the family in front of the fireplace or build snowmen in the front yard of your Big Sky cabin, or wake up to chirping birds ready to hike the trails literally right outside the door of your summer Big Sky vacation rental. Keep kids, and parents, happy with more than one bathroom, and save money to boot. With Big Sky vacation rentals, life is good.

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