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Big Sky

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Overview

Known for the legendary ski hill that opened in 1973, Big Sky has become a year-round outdoor hotspot for mountain bikers, backpackers, and anglers alike. Check out the lift-served downhill trails at Big Sky Resort, over three hundred miles of hiking trails throughout the surrounding Lee Metcalf Wilderness, or the blue ribbon trout fishing along the Gallatin River.

Many visitors stop at Big Sky as their base for western access to Yellowstone National Park. The drive through Gallatin Canyon along Hwy 191 from Bozeman to West Yellowstone isn't to be missed. As you head south from Big Sky, look west toward the peaks of the Madison Range. Then, as you enter the National Park and the road snakes along the border between Wyoming and Montana, look east toward the Gallatin Range. Check out the Bighorn Pass hike that heads straight through the Gallatin Range below Bannock Peak.

Visiting Tips

Big Sky Resort typically opens for skiing from the end of November to the end of April. The shoulder seasons, fall and spring, can be trickier for trail access as it can be muddy or snow-covered. However, early fall can be an excellent time to get out as the weather is dry, relatively warm, and the crowds thin out even more. The highest average temps fall between late July and early August.

At over 7,200 feet of elevation, visitors should prepare to be at altitude. This means lots of water, maybe a little caffeine, and a day or two to acclimate or between backpacking trips. As well as a slower pace and being conscious of symptoms associated with altitude sickness like a headache, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, or nausea. In the backcountry, the only thing that helps altitude sickness is to return to lower altitudes and higher oxygen levels.

For anglers, the Salmonfly hatch is an annual event between the end of June and the beginning of July, when the spring run-off is at its height. There's nothing like taking a rest day between hikes by soaking your tired legs and feet in the icy-cold Gallatin River full of hungry cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout.

Camping & Lodging

As the western access point for Yellowstone National Park, there is no shortage of places to stay in Big Sky. Here's a brief list of options from Visit Big Sky, ranging from hotels and spas to inns and western lodges:

Additionally, there are a wide range of campground experiences available around Big Sky and throughout the Gallatin Canyon to the north like the Moose Creek Flat Campground, Red Cliff Campground, and Windy Pass Cabin. As well as backcountry camping throughout Lee Metcalf Wilderness.

Food & Drink

The food options in Big Sky run the gamut, from bakeries to big game and everything in between. You can grab a beer at the Lone Peak Brewery or a cocktail across the way at Olive B's Big Sky Bistro and then toss a coin to decide between Ousel & Spur Pizza Co. or the Blue Moon Bakery for a fresh homemade pizza.

Other Activities

Rock climbing, horseback riding, hunting, whitewater rafting, and, of course, skiing are just the tip of the iceberg for outdoor pursuits around Big Sky.

Recommended Routes in Big Sky - 3

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Favorite Spring Leaves
Difficult

Wilson Peak

12.5 mi 20.1 km 4,164' Up 1269.08 m Up 4,163' Down 1268.88 m Down

Big Sky, MT
Favorite Ousel Falls
Intermediate

Ousel Falls

1.6 mi 2.5 km 260' Up 79.21 m Up 260' Down 79.34 m Down

Big Sky, MT
Favorite Almost to the top
Very Difficult

Summit Climb (Bone Crusher)

2.3 mi 3.7 km 1,903' Up 580.15 m Up 1,903' Down 580.17 m Down

Big Sky, MT

Big Sky Running

  • 162 Miles 260 Kilometers of Trail
  • 3 Recommended Routes
  • 6 Easy Trails Easy Trails
  • 14 Intermediate Trails Intermediate Trails
  • 15 Difficult Trails Difficult Trails
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Areas Within Big Sky

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Trails in Big Sky - 32

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3.3 mi 5.3 km #1Beehive Basin Trail #40
Intermediate/Difficult
Big Sky, MT
Intermediate/Difficult
Big Sky, MT 15 
5.7 mi 9.2 km #2Upper South Fork
Intermediate
Big Sky, MT
Intermediate
Big Sky, MT
3.3 mi 5.3 km #3Reflector Trail
Intermediate
Big Sky, MT
Intermediate
Big Sky, MT
8.8 mi 14.1 km #4Deer Lake Trail #481
Intermediate
Big Sky, MT
Intermediate
Big Sky, MT
4.7 mi 7.6 km #5Grizzly Loop
Intermediate/Difficult
Big Sky, MT
Intermediate/Difficult
Big Sky, MT
1.9 mi 3.1 km #6Ridge Trail #403
Intermediate/Difficult
Big Sky, MT
Intermediate/Difficult
Big Sky, MT
6.6 mi 10.7 km #7First Yellow Mule #162
Difficult
Big Sky, MT
Difficult
Big Sky, MT
5.0 mi 8.1 km #8Elk Horn Trail #165
Intermediate
Big Sky, MT
Intermediate
Big Sky, MT
8.4 mi 13.6 km #9Second Yellow Mule #42
Difficult
Big Sky, MT
Difficult
Big Sky, MT
2.7 mi 4.3 km #10Ralph's Pass
Intermediate
Big Sky, MT
Intermediate
Big Sky, MT

Photos of Big Sky - 32

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Ousel Falls
Feb 20, 2020 near Big Sky, MT
Sunset on M2M
May 15, 2019 near Big Sky, MT
View down the valley traced by Dudley Creek.
Aug 24, 2018 near Big Sky, MT
Lake at top of Beehive Basin in summer.
Aug 20, 2020 near Big Sky, MT
Ice on cliff faces.
Nov 29, 2018 near Big Sky, MT
Snowy waterfall
Nov 29, 2018 near Big Sky, MT
Mt Goat just below ridge and just above the X. This is view with no magnification from glacial lake at head of the trail, slowly feeding along the mountain for at least 20 minutes.
Aug 24, 2018 near Big Sky, MT
Mt Goat seen from small lake near top of trail, note this goat was at least 400 yards or more, just below ridgeline, feeding, only one spotted, recommend binoculars for the hike so you can look for goats, shot with Nikon D900 at bear 2000X hand held
Aug 24, 2018 near Big Sky, MT