Big Sky Resort

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Big Sky
Big Sky Resort in 2006
Big Sky Resort in 2006
Location Big Sky,
Madison County,
 United States
Nearest city Bozeman - 50 mi (80 km)
Coordinates 45°15′0″N 111°25′0″W / 45.25000°N 111.41667°W / 45.25000; -111.41667 (Big Sky)Coordinates: 45°15′0″N 111°25′0″W / 45.25000°N 111.41667°W / 45.25000; -111.41667 (Big Sky)
Vertical 4,350 ft (1,326 m)
Top elevation 11,166 ft (3,403 m)[1]
Base elevation 6,800 ft (2,073 m)
Lone Moose
7,500 ft (2,286 m)
Mountain Village[1]
Skiable area 5,800 acres (23.5 km2)[1]
Runs 250+[1]
Longest run 6 miles (10 km)
Lift system 30 lifts
Snowmaking 10%

Big Sky Resort is a 5,800-acre (23 km2) ski resort located in southwestern Montana in Madison County, an hour south of Bozeman via U.S. Highway 191 in Big Sky, Montana.

Big Sky Resort opened in late 1973. In October 2013, Big Sky Resort became the largest ski resort in the United States by acreage with 5,800 acres (23 km2) and a vertical drop of 4,350 ft (1,326 m).[1] In July 2013, Big Sky Resort acquired 200 acres (0.81 km2) on Spirit Mountain, previously a private ski mountain for Spanish Peaks members, which is accessible by chairlift.[2] In October 2013, Big Sky Resort acquired the terrain and facilities of Moonlight Basin Resort, a neighboring resort that shared the Northern Exposure of Lone Mountain.[2]

Big Sky Resort also offers meeting space for conferences, weddings, and corporate retreats.[3]

Resort History[edit]

The resort was the vision of NBC News anchorman Chet Huntley, a Montana native. Big Sky opened in December 1973 with a main base area at an elevation of 7,510 ft (2,289 m) above sea level on the eastern face of Lone Mountain, 11,166 ft (3,403 m), the sixty-seventh highest mountain in Montana, and the seventh-highest mountain in the state outside of the Beartooth Range.[4]

The first four lifts installed were the gondola and three chairlifts. The enclosed gondola carried four skiers per cabin and climbed 1,525 ft (465 m) to 9,040 ft (2,755 m). The nearby Lone Peak triple chairlift provided the lift-served maximum of 9,800 ft (2,987 m), unloading at the bowl 1,366 ft (416 m) beneath Lone Mountain's summit, providing a vertical drop of just under 2,300 ft (701 m)). The "Explorer" double chair served novice terrain just above the base, and the Andesite double climbed the north face of adjacent Andesite Mountain to 8,700 ft (2,652 m). This lift was renamed Ram's Horn in 1978, and replaced with the Ramcharger high speed quad in 1990.[4]

After its third season, Boyne Resorts purchased the resort in 1976, following Huntley's death from cancer in March 1974 and the decision of owner Chrysler Corporation to divest its real estate development assets.[4]

Lone Peak, the top of the resort mountain

The resort grew steadily over the following decades, adding lifts and more than tripling the terrain available for skiing and snowboarding. The fifth lift, a second chairlift on Andesite Mountain, was installed in the summer of 1979. The Mad Wolf double climbed Andesite's eastern face and lowered Big Sky's minimum elevation 540 ft (165 m) to 6,970 ft (2,124 m). This increased the area's vertical drop to over 2,800 ft (853 m). The Mad Wolf lift was replaced with the Thunder Wolf high speed quad in 1994.[4]

Two lifts were added in the 1980s, Gondola Two was installed in parallel to the first gondola, and the Challenger double chair served upper elevation expert terrain on the north edge of the ski area. A tow was later added above this lift. Gondola Two was replaced with the Swift Current high speed quad chairlift in 1997. The eighth lift at Big Sky was the "Southern Comfort" triple chair on Andesite Mountain, installed in 1990 and upgraded to a high speed quad for the 2004-2005 ski season.[4]

In the fall of 1995, Big Sky gained prominence with the installation of the Lone Peak Tram, built to take expert skiers to the summit of Lone Mountain at 11,166 ft (3,403 m) to copious extreme treeless terrain. The Shedhorn double chair was also part of this expansion, installed in 1995 on the lower south face of Lone Mountain.[4]

The tram substantially increased Big Sky's vertical drop to 4,180 ft (1,274 m). The minimum elevation was lowered further in the fall of 1999, with the addition of the Lone Moose triple chair with its base elevation of 6,800 ft (2,073 m) at Lone Moose Meadows. This increased the ski area's total vertical drop to 4,350 ft (1,326 m), with the maximum continuous vertical drop increased to 4,100 ft (1,200 m) from the top of the tram to the main base area.[4]

The growth off of the slopes was highlighted in 1990 with the addition of the Shoshone Condominium Hotel and the Yellowstone Conference Center, which increased summer business to the resort.[4]

In April 2000, Boyne Resorts announced that an estimated $400 million in improvements would take place over the next ten years to the Mountain Village and the ski area. Later in 2000, the $54 million Summit Hotel was completed, providing four-star, ski-in ski-out accommodations. In late 2007, the $25 million Village Center Complex was opened, expanding the shopping, dining, and ski-in ski-out accommodation options.[4]

In 2007, Big Sky expanded the skiing opportunities on the south face of Lone Peak with the addition of the new triple chair Dakota Lift, and access to the accompanying out-of-bounds sidecountry, Dakota Territory. Gondola One was retired in the summer of 2008, dismantled due to the rising cost of repairs.[4]

Big Sky's neighbor on its north boundary was Moonlight Basin, which merged with Big Sky Resort in October 2013.[2]


Big Sky Resort is primarily known for its winter activities, which include skiing and snowboarding, seven terrain parks, zipline and snowshoeing, but it has become an increasingly popular summer attraction. Several ziplines, paintball, archery, tennis, hiking, and mountain biking trails are available on the mountain, with golf and Horseback riding available near the Meadow Village, which sits at an elevation of 6,300 feet (1,900 m), between the ski area and US-191.[5]

Terrain Aspects - Skiing[6][edit]

  • North: 37%
  • West: 2%
  • East: 36%
  • South: 2%

Lone Peak Tram[edit]

The Lone Peak Tram is an aerial tramway at the Big Sky Resort that begins at the top of the Lone Peak Triple chairlift and unloads at the summit of Lone Mountain at 11,166 ft (3,403 m). Opened in the fall of 1995, the 15 passenger cab climbs 1,450 ft (442 m) over a distance of 2,828 ft (862 m), with two cabs traveling in opposite directions. It provides access to the most difficult terrain at Big Sky Resort, including former Moonlight Basin terrain. Construction was completed by the high-altitude construction firm Matrix, based in Alaska.[7]

Starting in the summer 2012 season, Big Sky Resort introduced daily summer tram rides to take visitors effortlessly to the top of Lone Peak, called The Lone Peak Expedition.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Mountain Stats". Retrieved 2013-11-18. 
  2. ^ a b c "Biggest Skiing in America Just Got Bigger". Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Conferences". Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Big Sky Resort History". Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Activities and Things to Do". Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  6. ^ Best Ski Resorts, ZRankings. "ZRankings Topographical Survey - Terrain". ZRankings. ZRankings. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  7. ^ "Lone Peak Tram". Retrieved 18 November 2013. 

External links[edit]