If uncrowded slopes and big terrain is something you look for in a ski resort, then Big Sky in Montana has your name all over it.
As the third biggest resort in North America, there’s plenty to explore (and get lost in) across this bucket list destination.
So, to make your first time at this hidden gem more memorable, we sought the help of local ski instructor, Zoe Mavis, to offer up her ultimate insider tips that will have you skiing, exploring and enjoying Big Sky like a local.
Best skiing and snowboarding
For the early risers, you can’t beat Elk Park Ridge which is found off Ramcharger 8, an eight seat chair with ergonomically shaped heated seats that can transport 3,600 skiers per hour to the tip of Andesite Mountain.
Zoe explains, “I love ripping carve turns down Elk Park Ridge while the corduroy is perfect in the mornings”.
For those who like it steep, she suggests beelining it for Challenger Chair lift where you’ll find a mix of steeps and bumps for that quick hit of adrenaline.
To finish off a perfect day on the slopes, Zoe’s choice is Africa. “There’s no better way to finish out the day then to rally some fast laps with friends down Africa”.
A bonus tip, book in a guide for your first day on the mountain. She explains “it’s a sure fire way to see more of the mountain. Since Big Sky has so much terrain, it’s super helpful to get the insider scoop on your first day so you know where to go for the rest of your trip.”
Where to go on a powder day
Famously known for its unbeatable “cold-smoke” powder, Big Sky sees an impressive 400 inches of annual snowfall each winter season. That’s over 10 metres of snow!
So, where to go when the snow starts falling? Zoe offers some insights into what to look for and when (she couldn’t give away her secret spots that easily).
“In all honesty, it depends on the storm we get. Since Big Sky has a lot of terrain and varying aspects, if you pay attention to the conditions and where the wind blew the night before you’ll find the best stashes.”
Dining out – where and when
Big Sky won’t disappoint when it comes to satisfying your cravings, with Zoe offering some helpful tips depending on the mood and vibe you’re looking for.
For a low-key quick eat, you can’t go past 3 Forks Deli in Vista Hall, “the sandwich/wrap/salad counter always has great stuff”.
For some sit-down, casual dining, Montana Jack is where you want to be. The family-friendly taphouse has a huge selection of craft burgers that can be washed down with a choice of over 30 beers, all on tap.
You’ll find Montana Jack at the base of the mountain in The Exchange.
Finally, if you’re looking for a date night destination, look no further than Everett’s 8800.
With views out to Lone Peak and a world-class culinary menu, you’ll be spoiled for choice for your special meal out. Marry that with an Architectural Digest “Most Beautifully Designed Bar in Montana” and you’ll find there’s no better place for dinner and stargazing whilst enjoying a fireside cocktail.
Zoe warns “make sure to book in advance because it fills up quickly!”
Best Hot Chocolate and Coffee
Whether you’re on the lookout for an early morning pick-me-up or mid afternoon caffeine fix, Zoe rates Mocha in the Huntley as Big Sky’s best hot chocolate and coffee destination.
Not just a quick grab and go destination, choose to kick-up your feet by the fire or even challenge a contender to a game of oversized checkers.
Best Breakfast Spots
To keep you fueled all day long, Zoe’s top picks for a breakfast of champions is the “breakfast burritos or crepes at Vista Hall”.
A clever option for the picky eaters in your life, Vista Hall is a 350 seat multi-station modern food hall with a diverse selection of varying cuisines to satisfy everyone. From fresh pastries or crepes, to a classic deli and more.
You’ll find Zoe’s breaky burrito pick at Taqueria or her crepes at Illy Cafe.
Apres and party vibes
If you’re visiting in spring you’ll want to pack some dancing shoes and head to Big Sky’s Plaza in the heart of the Mountain Village Base Area. “I love spring dance party vibes so when the DJ is playing in the plaza, that’s where I want to be”.
Outside of spring, some unforgettable apres spots to enjoy a post-ski drink are Montana Jack, with the largest selection of beers in the area or Carabiner Lounge for handcrafted cocktails.
Looking for mid-ski apres? It’s hard to beat Everett’s 8800 at the top of Ramcharger 8 that serves up unparalleled views of Lone Peak and a vast selection of wine, European beers and expertly crafted cocktails.
When you’re not skiing or snowboarding
Explore the mountain in a different way through the whimsical Enchanted Forest, located at the top of Andesite Mountain.
Lit up by the glow of lights, you’ll follow a magical winter trail through the trees for a night time experience that both oldies and little ones will love.
“You can ride the lift (Ramcharger 8) up at night and walk through a beautiful lit up forest. It is so pretty and great for everyone.”