Hitting the Slopes in Yellowstone’s Shadow: Big Sky, Montana’s Winter Wonderland

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Big Sky Montana Skiing

Crafted by National Geographic Traveller (UK), this article takes you on a thrilling adventure.

Perched precariously at Lone Mountain Peak’s summit, I gaze down the Big Couloir – a formidable triple black diamond ski path with inclines from 40 to 50 degrees, spanning a daring 460 vertical meters. Embarking on this solo ski journey, the encouragement of famed extreme skier Dan Egan echoes in my ears. Today marks the climax of Big Sky’s Steep and Deep camp, under Egan’s guidance.

Established in 1973, Big Sky resort initially stood as a remote ski spot, renowned for its tree-lined paths catering to intermediate skiers and the dauntingly steep Lone Mountain. Prior to 1995, reaching these challenging slopes meant hiking up the mountain. However, a tiny, nerve-wracking 15-person ‘tram’ changed that. This season introduces a larger 75-person cable car, further solidifying Big Sky as a top-tier American ski destination.

But there’s more than just skiing. Nestled right next to Big Sky is the expansive Yellowstone National Park. Its deep forests and grasslands are teeming with wildlife like wolves and bison, encircling a vast 45-mile-wide volcanic crater. This geological marvel boasts over 10,000 geothermal features, including the iconic Old Faithful geyser.

Venturing out from the Steep and Deep camp, I had an extraordinary two-hour skidoo journey through Yellowstone, targeting its famous geyser. Racing at 30 miles per hour, I witnessed herds of bison, bald eagles, coyotes, and even a bobcat. This land feels otherworldly – where steam vents through the earth and acidic waters bubble, a reminder of the massive, dormant supervolcano beneath us.

Though Yellowstone swarms with visitors in summer, its winter solitude is striking. Our group encountered bison, observed from a close yet safe distance. At Old Faithful, the geyser erupted with remarkable precision, showcasing nature’s raw power.

Back at Big Sky, I’m faced with the daunting Big Couloir. Navigating this treacherous path requires precision, as any misstep could lead to a perilous descent. Despite decades of skiing experience, this challenge is unnerving. Embracing the spirit of the Wild West, I inhale deeply and embark on the descent.

Planning Your Trip
Fly to Bozeman, Montana via United Airlines, with routes through Chicago or Denver starting at £775. Ground transport links Bozeman to Big Sky, just under an hour’s journey.

Stay at the three-star Huntley Lodge in Big Sky village from $249 per night. For a guided Yellowstone tour, including snowmobiles, gear, lunch, and fees, expect to pay around $427.

For booking and further details, head to bigskyresort.com.

This story, supported by Big Sky Resort and Visit Montana, is featured in the Winter Sports guide of National Geographic Traveller (UK)’s December 2023 issue.

For subscriptions to National Geographic Traveller (UK), available in select countries, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Big Sky Montana Skiing

Q: How can I access Big Sky, Montana, for a winter vacation?

A: You can fly to Bozeman, Montana, via United Airlines, with routes through Chicago or Denver, and then take a bus or taxi to Big Sky, which is about an hour away from the airport.

Q: What is the highlight of visiting Yellowstone National Park during the winter?

A: Yellowstone in winter offers a unique opportunity to witness its stunning wildlife, including bison, wolves, and eagles, amidst a snow-covered landscape. Plus, you can enjoy the mesmerizing eruptions of geysers like Old Faithful.

Q: Is skiing in Big Sky suitable for beginners?

A: While Big Sky offers tree runs for intermediate skiers, it’s also known for its challenging slopes like the Big Couloir. Beginners might find it more suitable to stick to the intermediate-level trails.

Q: What is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park for a winter adventure?

A: Winter is an ideal time to visit Yellowstone if you prefer fewer crowds and a unique snow-covered landscape. Just keep in mind that some areas of the park may be inaccessible due to snow, so plan accordingly.

Q: Where can I find more information and book activities for this trip?

A: You can find detailed information and book accommodation and activities for your Big Sky and Yellowstone adventure at bigskyresort.com.

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OutdoorEnthusiast December 22, 2023 - 2:01 pm

bison, wolves, eagles? sounds amazin! i luv nature & ski. when 2 go? i need2 no!

NatureNerd December 23, 2023 - 1:50 am

winter in yellowstone = magical. less ppl, mo nature! #WinterWonderland


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