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Located along the Gallatin River, just about halfway between Yellowstone National Park and the town of Bozeman, Big Sky epitomizes the modern four-season resort town. In summer, the mountain village fills with visitors heading to the golf course, looking for an outdoor-focused vacation, or hoping to find a quieter retreat and more luxurious base from which to explore the national park. In winter, the ski area definitely steals the spotlight, fulfilling visitors’ dreams of a powder-filled getaway with few liftlines. Though the ski area dates back to 1973, Big Sky grew up as a destination only this century, with continuous improvements and expansions to both the ski area and the village around it.
The Bozeman Yellowstone Airport (BZN), about a one-hour drive from Big Sky, receives flights from almost 20 airports around the United States. If you want to rent a car, you should do it at the airport, as there is not an agency in Big Sky. Shuttles, buses, and cab companies bring visitors from the airport to Big Sky, where visitors can easily skip renting a car by staying right in town, as most tour companies and outfitters offer transportation in their packages. The village itself is small enough to be quite walkable and built to be pedestrian- and bike-friendly, though it also offers a free shuttle for getting around town.
As befits a ski resort town, the winters get cold in Big Sky, sometimes brutally so. Average low temperatures at night dip down into the single digits Fahrenheit, though winter days warm up, with the average high around 30 degrees. The weather warms up during the rather rainy spring season. Summer leans in the other direction, with average highs topping out around 78 degrees Fahrenheit and the nights cooling off to an average low around 40 degrees Fahrenheit — which means visitors should always bring at least a few layers when packing for Big Sky. A waterproof layer is also important, as Big Sky gets precipitation seven to 13 days each month, year-round, with the most in the spring and the least in the fall.
Skiers should definitely take advantage of the more than 33 feet of snow that fall on Lone Mountain in the average year. Nearly 6,000 skiable acres, stretching over 4350 vertical feet, give every skier plenty of space, and nine high-speed lifts (of 38 total) keep them moving up and down the mountain.
Around 50 miles south of town, visitors come to the West Yellowstone entrance to America’s oldest national park. Another 45 minutes’ drive will bring you to the park’s greatest hits, including the Grand Prismatic Spring and the Old Faithful Geyser, and allows for plenty of wildlife spotting (including the storied bison).
Half- and full-day trips down the nearby Gallatin River take visitors on anything from a scenic float to an exciting adventure through class IV rapids, depending on the chosen route and time of year.