Big Sky Montana

Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

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Travel Tile This was a family ski trip, where had we decided to try yet another "non Colorado location". This was because the snow in Colorado continued to be very erratic, and because Big Sky would not have the same altitude (7,218 feet) issues that Colorado has. The average snow fall at Big Sky is over 400 inches, so we were excited!

Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

We flew into the Bozeman-Yellowstone Airport, rented a 4WD vehicle and drove to the Big Sky Resort. It is 51 miles from the airport, and the road is well maintained and kept clear of snow & ice. But the cold ! Wow, flying into that cold from Florida was an eye opener !

Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana Big Sky Resort Trail Map 2020/2021

Resort View from the Gondola 

Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

We had never been to Montana before, having spent all of our ski trips in Colorado. So we decided that we needed to mark that check box off, and flew into Bozeman, MT. Picked up our rental vehicle, and drove down to Big Sky.

We had decided to rent a 4WD, and it proved to be a fortunate decision the very first night we were in the condo! We wanted "first tracks" and departed the condo early only to find the parking lot was knee deep in snow, but our 4WD allowed us to roll out with no problems.

Our Big Sky Condo Rental Unit
Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

The condo was nice sized, sufficient room for everyone to be comfortable, get their ski equipment on, etc. However, the very first night, the condo heating unit did not function. We called the condo owner, but he could not get anyone to come out and repair it until the next day. Overnight was a full tilt blizzard, and the wind howled all night long as the condo temperature dropped like a stone.

The next morning, when we got up, we found that it had snowed 17 inches overnight! We had the only 4WD vehicle in the condo parking lot, and were able to drive out without any problems.

Deep Powder Skiing
Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

Chelsea and I waving at Mom as she glides over all that powder! It is difficult to adjust one's snowboarding riding stance to clumps of fresh powder, but once you adjust, riding becomes fun again. We had some initial issues dealing with snow that deep, and each of us had different issues, as Celeste and I were on our snowboards and Chelsea was on skis.

Deep Powder Skiing Discussion
Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

Chelsea is explaing to everone how much work it is to ski on fresh powder. Celeste and I were on snowboards, and we had some difficulty with it at first too, but soon found a rhythm.

Deep Powder Everywhere!
Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

See how deep the powder is on the table tops? The powder has stacked up everywhere. As cold as it was that morning, something warm to drink hit the spot.

Weather was Perfect!
Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

It was such a beautiful day, that we wound up taking a lot of pictures. As this picture shows, it did remain cold outside which made the occasional hot cocoa feel really good! You can see by the crowd that most people felt the same way.

Gondola was Warmer than Outside
Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

I think Chelsea & Jeremy were laughing because it was nice and warm in the cable car, compared to outside conditions! Seriously, why were we ever riding the 2 or 3 person chair-life when we could be riding in this warm gondola?

Yellowstone National Park       Map
Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

We took a day off from skiing, and drove down to Yellowstone Park. Here we are after waiting for a new snow cat to come and get us. The one we were on for our tour of the park, broke down and we had to wait for an hour for a new cat to arrive.

Bison are Everywhere
Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

The bison in Yellowstone, were obviously dressed for the weather, and were no doubt much warmer than we were!

There were several large bison herds that our snow cat drove by, these guys were everywhere. And as you can probably see, this picture was taken from inside the snowcat, as Bison are tempermental and sometimes take exception to humans approaching them on foot.

Yellowstone Geography
Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

Throughout Yellowstone Park the geography is highly variable, and as you can see, very rugged country.

The park covers an area of 3,472 square miles (8,987 sq km) that is made up of various geothermal features like geysers, as well as mountains, lakes, canyons, and rivers.

Snowcat Failure
Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

Did I mention our snow cat broke down? As you can see in this image , the track mechanism has completely sheared off from the drive axle.

The single biggest problem here is that we are miles from the Tour Operator's HQ, and this snocat isn't going anywhere until the track mechanism is repaired.

New Snowcat Requested
Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

Since our original Snowcat was going to require a new axle/track mechanism, the driver had radioed in and had the tour company send out a replacement snowcat. That was good news indeed, because as you can see, the snow and cold were not going to get better anytime soon.

New Snowcat Requested
Family Ski Trip to Big Sky Montana

Everyone is celebrating the new snow cat arrival, as we knew that it was going to be warm inside!

This is perhaps one of the benefits of an area that has serious winters, the tour company had quite a few snocats and a large supply of parts and a good maintenance team. The Yellowstone rule that only snow equipment can be utilized during the winter, tends to mean that they must have everything they need to keep the snocats operational.

Snocats not only offer thrilling rides but also play a crucial role in park operations. They maintain essential winter access for rangers, deliver supplies to remote areas, and groom cross-country ski trails.

Trip Summary

And like all good vacations, this one came to an end and we flew back to Virginia. This was a fun trip, and we all came away with the feeling that Montana was a great place to recreate at. Because the altitude is not what you find in Colorado, there were no altitude related issues!

In fact, we liked it so much that we decided that we were going to go to Whitefish, MT at some future date.

Big Sky Resort Statistics
Location:44 miles from Bozeman, MT airport
Base Elevation:7,500 feet
Average Annual Snowfall:400+ inches
Summit Elevation:11,166 feet
Vertical Drop: 4,350 feet
Chair Lifts: 24
Surface Lifts: 12
Skiable Acres: 5,800 acres
# Terrain Parks:7
Marked Trails: 300 named runs on 4 connected mountains
Snowmaking: 364 acres/148 hectares
Longest Run: Liberty Bowl to Mountain Mall: 6 miles
Beginner Ski Trails: 15%
Intermediate Trails: 25%
Advanced Trails: 42%
Expert Trails: 18%

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