What to Do in Big Sky Montana?

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: March 29th, 2024

Imagine this: fresh mountain air so crisp you can almost smell the cold, a sky so wide-open you could lose yourself in it, and enough space to roam that you can head in any direction and find quiet…if that’s your thing. 

Welcome to Big Sky, Montana: a place where outdoor junkies get their fix, families make memories to last a lifetime, and those who are looking for a bit of luxury find it, even in the wild. If you’re ready to see what’s under that gigantic sky, keep reading!

Winter Wonderland: Skiing, Snowboarding, & More

If we had to guess, we’d say that most folks know Big Sky for its ski scene. With over 5,800 acres of fluffy white gold at Big Sky Resort, you’ll find your groove, whether you were practically born with skis, or a total newbie. If skiing isn’t your thing, don’t fret. Winter has got way more up its sleeve than just hitting the slopes.

1. Lone Mountain Ranch

lone mountain ranch
Image: parudox
  • Location: 75 Lone Mountain Ranch Rd, Big Sky, MT 59716 
  • Best For: Those seeking a classic, cozy winter ranch experience with various activities
  • Type: Historic dude ranch
  • Highlights: Horse-drawn sleigh rides, fireside meals, top-notch Nordic skiing trails

This historic ranch offers a classic winter experience. Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride under the stars, followed by a cozy fireside meal. Their well-kept Nordic ski trails are perfect for exploring the meadows and forests at your own pace.

2. Yellowstone National Park 

yellowstone national park

  • Location: Primarily Wyoming, extending into Montana & Idaho
  • Best For: Winter wonder without the crowds, seeing iconic park features in the snow
  • Type: National Park
  • Highlights: Snowcoach tours to Old Faithful, wildlife viewing, unique geothermal features

During the winter months, the park transforms into a winter wonderland (but with fewer crowds). Companies like Yellowstone Vacations offer snowcoach tours that will show you the highlights of the brilliantly sparkling park, without the hassle of navigating the winter roads yourself. If you’ve wanted to see what Old Faithful looks like dusted in snow, this is your chance!

3. 320 Guest Ranch 

320 guest ranch
Image: USDA NRCS Montana

Get in the cowboy spirit with winter horseback rides through snowy landscapes. Want to learn how to line dance? Want to have some authentic chuckwagon chili? Here’s your chance! The 320 Guest Ranch provides a true taste of the Montana way of life.

Summertime Fun: Hiking, Biking, Fishing, & More

Come the warmer months, Big Sky transforms into a whole different kind of playground. Here’s just a taste of what you can get into:

1. Ousel Falls Trail

A must-do for all ages and abilities, this easy trail winds through the forest and ends at a stunning waterfall. It’s the perfect choice for a leisurely afternoon in nature. Winter weather can cause major road closures, so the best time to visit is May-October.

2. Beehive Basin

beehive basin

Ready for a challenge with a big payoff? Beehive Basin is known for its breathtaking mountain views and alpine meadows. At just under 7 miles, it’s a tougher hike, but the scenic reward is worth it.

3. Big Sky Resort Mountain Biking 

mountain biking

  • Location: 50 Big Sky Resort Rd, Big Sky, MT 59716
  • Best For: Mountain bikers of all levels, from beginners to experts
  • Type: Resort with extensive bike trails
  • Highlights: Lift-accessed downhill, scenic cross-country trails, lessons available

With its large network of downhill and cross-country mountain biking trails, Big Sky Resort caters to all levels of mountain bikers. Whether you’re an excited newbie or seasoned dirt junkie, you’ll be sure to get dialed-in.

4. Gallatin River Guides

Gallatin River near Big Sky, MT. A popular river for cliff divers in Montana.

  • Location: 47995 Gallatin Rd, Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730
  • Best For: Anglers of all experience levels seeking prime trout fishing
  • Type: Guided fly-fishing outfitter
  • Highlights: Expert guides, scenic floats, access to the best spots

With more than thirty years of experience, these guys are fly-fishing experts. Book a guided trip on the Gallatin River, and they’ll help you land those beautiful trout, no matter your experience level.

5. Jake’s Horses

jake's horses inc

  • Location: 200 Beaver Creek Road, Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730 (location may vary depending on ride)
  • Best For: Horseback riding enthusiasts of all levels
  • Type: Trail riding outfitter
  • Highlights: Scenic rides, well-trained horses, options for all abilities

Tap into your inner cowboy (or cowgirl!) with a trail ride. They offer options for all levels, taking you through stunning mountain scenery on horseback. 


geyser whitewater expeditions
Image: raftmontana
  • Location: 46651 Gallatin Rd, Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730
  • Best For: Adventurers seeking whitewater thrills, from families to experienced rafters
  • Type: Whitewater rafting outfitter
  • Highlights: Range of trips, experienced guides, beautiful Gallatin River scenery

Get your adrenaline fix with a whitewater rafting trip down the Gallatin River. They offer trips ranging from family-friendly floats to adventures with more experienced rafters.

Big Sky for Families: Year-Round Fun

Traveling with kids? Big Sky’s got you covered with activities that are fun for the whole crew. Here are a few sure-fire hits:

1. Big Sky Resort’s Basecamp

big sky resortmoonlight basin
Image: Brett

This hub of adventure is a kid’s paradise in the summer. With zip lines, bungee trampolines, a giant swing, disc golf, and more, it’s easy to spend a whole day (or a week!) letting the youngsters get their energy out. 

Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center (West Yellowstone)

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

Image Source: Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

  • Location: 201 S Canyon St, West Yellowstone, MT 59758
  • Best For: Animal lovers, families wanting an educational experience
  • Type: Non-profit wildlife sanctuary
  • Highlights: Rescued bears and wolves, interactive exhibits, naturalist programs

A fascinating place to learn about these majestic animals. Kids will be amazed by the rescued bears and wolves, and get a better understanding of their role in the ecosystem. Be sure to check out their wolf and bear cameras!

2. Lake Levinsky

  • Location: Access via MT-64, Big Sky, MT 59716 (parking at lake access point)
  • Best For: Families seeking a relaxing day outdoors
  • Type: Recreational lake
  • Highlights: Swimming, fishing, paddle boat and kayak rentals, picnic areas

Perfect for a chill day with the family. Rent a paddle boat or kayak for some fun on the water, try your hand at fishing, or simply build sandcastles on the shore and soak up the sun.

3. The Crail Ranch

  • Location: 2100 Spotted Elk Road, Big Sky, MT 59716
  • Best For: Families wanting a taste of ranch life
  • Type: Working ranch with horseback riding
  • Highlights: Scenic rides, pony rides for little ones, friendly guides

For a true taste of ranch life, The Crail Ranch offers family-friendly horseback rides through rolling hills and meadows. Pony rides are even available for the littlest adventurers. An on-premises museum outlines the history of this remarkable place.

4. Yellowstone National Park

yellowstone national park

Okay, it’s not technically in Big Sky, but it’s close enough to count. Kids will go crazy for the geysers, bubbling mud pots, and the chance to spot wildlife, like bison, grizzlies, and elk.

Where to Stay: From Rustic to Ritzy

Big Sky offers lodging for every style and budget. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Montage Big Sky

montage big sky
Image: Montage Big Sky

This luxury resort is the ultimate skiing and snowboarding experience. It offers top-notch amenities including: a world-class spa, fine dining restaurants, and beautiful, elegant rooms. You might not want to go home!

2. Summit Hotel

Image Source: Summit Hotel

  • Location: 60 Big Sky Resort Rd, Big Sky, MT 59716
  • Best For: Upscale comfort, classic lodge feel, easy slope access
  • Type: Luxury hotel
  • Highlights: Cozy lounges, fireplaces, excellent on-site dining

A classic mountain lodge with an updated, modern flair. Here, you’ll find elegant rooms, cozy fireside lounges, and easy access to Big Sky Resort’s slopes.

3. The Wilson Hotel

Image Source: The Wilson Hotel

  • Location: 50 Big Sky Resort Rd, Big Sky, MT 59716
  • Best For: Families or groups wanting space and kitchen amenities
  • Type: Condo-hotel
  • Highlights: Stylish units, convenient location, pool and hot tub

These stylish condos are right in the heart of the Meadow Village. They are perfect for families or groups who want plenty of space and the convenience of a kitchen. Their amenities include a picnic area, playground, pool, game room, and 24-hour gym.

4. Big Sky Vacation Rentals

  • Location: Throughout the Big Sky area
  • Best For: Finding the perfect fit for budget and group size
  • Type: Vacation rental agency
  • Highlights: Huge selection of condos, cabins, and homes

Browse their extensive selection of cabins and condos throughout the Big Sky area. They have accommodations to fit various budgets and group sizes.

5. Lone Mountain Ranch

lone mountain ranch
Image: Lone Mountain Ranch
  • Location: 750 Lone Mountain Ranch Rd, Big Sky, MT 59716
  • Best For: Those seeking a classic, cozy winter ranch experience with various activities
  • Type: Historic dude ranch
  • Highlights: Horse-drawn sleigh rides, fireside meals, top-notch Nordic skiing trails

An iconic dude ranch offering an authentic Montana experience. Choose from cozy rooms or cabins, enjoy delicious ranch-style meals, and entertain yourself with endless outdoor activities.

6. 320 Guest Ranch

320 guest ranch
Image: USDA NRCS Montana

Another historic ranch option along the Gallatin River. They offer horseback riding, fly fishing, cozy cabins, and hearty Western meals.

7. Gallatin National Forest

gallatin petrified national forest

  • Location: Surrounding Big Sky, MT
  • Best For: Budget travelers, those seeking full outdoor immersion
  • Type: National Forest
  • Highlights: Campgrounds, stunning scenery, hiking access

Countless campgrounds dot the forest surrounding Big Sky. Pitch a tent or park your RV amidst stunning mountain scenery and enjoy that magical feeling of being under the Big Sky stars.

6. Buck’s T-4 Lodge

Looking for a lively après-ski scene with a side of local flavor? Buck’s T-4 is a legendary Big Sky hangout with hearty food, live music, and a boot-stompin’ good time guaranteed. They are closed in the winter, however, so be sure to plan appropriately!

Budget-Friendly Big Sky: It’s Doable!

  • Travel in the Shoulder Seasons: Opt for Spring (May-June) or Fall (September-October): Prices drop, crowds thin out, but the weather’s still great for outdoor adventures.
  • Camp or Stay in Nearby Towns: Camping is the cheapest option, or look for deals in Bozeman or West Yellowstone, which are short drives from Big Sky.
  • Pack Your Groceries: Avoid eating out for every meal by cooking some at your condo or campsite.
  • Freebies Are Your Friend: Enjoy free events like concerts at the resort, or take advantage of free hiking trails and scenic drives.
  • Support Small Businesses: Big Sky is full of local shops, breweries, and restaurants. Show them some love and grab unique souvenirs or a tasty Montana-made treat.
  • Ask About Discounts: Many activity providers have discounts for early-bird bookings, multi-day passes, or even locals’ specials. It never hurts to ask!

About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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