Chase Winter Family Adventures at Big Sky, Montana

Explore Big Sky's winter wonderland with skiing, snowmobiling in Yellowstone and cozy yurt dinners.

Big Sky, Montana is a gorgeous mountain town not far from Yellowstone National Park where wild winter adventures come to life. Snow-kissed Rocky Mountains and alpine valleys offer world-class skiing and bucket-list worthy outdoor excursions.

My family snowmobiled past snow-blanketed bison at Yellowstone National Park, dog sledded with excited Alaskan huskies, climbed in giant snowcats up to a Montana dinner yurt and skied at Big Sky Resort.

Not only is Big Sky a sanctuary for outdoor adventure enthusiasts, but you can also find refreshing ways to reconnect with nature, like in the outdoor heated pools where visitors from all over the U.S. share stories of their escapades.

How to get to Big Sky, Montana

Winter in Big Sky, Montana
Photo credit: Patrick Conroy

Fly into Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. It’s a smaller airport, but they do have full-service restaurants. Big Sky is about 45 minutes south of BZN airport and services like Uber and Lyft are not available. I suggest securing a ride in advance, especially because local drivers will be prepared to deal with winter road conditions. Big Sky Country Transport is the private shuttle service that we took. Our driver was timely, personable and helpful with tips about the local area.

Ski season at Big Sky Resort

Winter in Big Sky, Montana
Photo credit: Tom Cohen Tomas Cohen

Ski season in Big Sky often starts in November and can last through late April, depending on the weather. An average of 400 inches of fluffy snow falls there each year. Almost 6,000 acres of terrain around Lone Mountain, with half rated beginner to intermediate, make for memorable family ski vacations. Explore the expansive grounds via the most technologically-advanced lift network in North America. Kids and adults can progress with private or group lessons. Tougher terrain and headlamp night skiing opportunities get advanced skiers even more pumped.

My 11-year-old daughter tackled her first ski lesson with a wonderful guide and we were thoroughly impressed with Big Sky Resort‘s 8-person heated seat chairlift featuring weather-proof bubbles.

Snowmobiling Yellowstone National Park

Winter in Big Sky, Montana
Photo credit: JackVandenHeuvel

Yellowstone National Park is magnificent any time of year, but winter is a purely magical time to see it. The roads are open only for snowmobile and snow coach traffic so it’s uncharacteristically uncrowded. Old Faithful is mesmerizing with snowflakes silently falling around the famous geyser.

I have to admit that our full-day snowmobile tour around Yellowstone made me slightly nervous because I had only driven a snowmobile once before; but I highly recommend it because you can capitalize on a rare opportunity to see the park on full display with an empowering sense of adventure.

My family of four rode two two-person Ski-Doos with Two Top Snowmobiles. Our kids yipped with delight from the back as we zipped past hissing thermal pools and bubbling mud pots. The quiet exhilaration was refreshing and enlightening. We saw nature in all its glory as we spotted a bob cat in the snow and groups of bison gathered around watering holes. 

Dog sledding in Big Sky

Winter in Big Sky, Montana
Photo credit: Celia Miller

Dog sledding is another bucket list activity you can check off in Big Sky. There’s nothing quite like the cold breeze on your cheeks as energetic canines dash you around snowy corners in a picturesque winter expanse. Spirit of the North is a dog sledding team that provides tours one mile above the Big Sky Mountain Village. Trips are approximately two hours around Moonlight Basin.

When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by excited Alaskan huskies and have the opportunity to help teams get ready to run. Those that want to mush can learn how. My husband and son each led separate dog teams, my son with a guide and my husband behind with my daughter and I cozied up in the sleigh. We giggled and squealed as we bumped, slid and picked up speed.

Halfway through the trip, everyone stopped for hot chocolate, homemade chocolate chip cookies and plenty of photo opportunities with the pups. The fresh mountain air and incredible scenery make your spirit soar and your mind feel wide open. 

Other winter adventures at Big Sky Resort 

Winter in Big Sky, Montana
Photo credit: Kirby Grubaughn

There are so many other incredible winter adventures to partake in around Big Sky. The Montana Dinner Yurt is a candle-lit, casually elegant dinner experience. It starts with a 15-minute climb up Lone Mountain in a heated snowcat.

When you arrive at the cozy, round yurt, you are given the opportunity to sled down a torch-lit run. My son absolutely loved seeing how far he could go in the deep snow. I practically had to beg him to come in for dinner.

He eventually walked in with a huge smile slathered across his face. We dined on warm cups of cheesy French onion soup and fork-tender filet mignon. We were almost too full for the Toblerone fondue, but somehow we found room. You can substitute salmon or vegetarian entrees. The kid’s menu includes chicken tenders, buttered noodles, burgers and fries. It’s BYOB, so many tables brought bottles of wine. Live acoustic guitar strumming while the wood stove crackled set the tone for a great evening.

You can take scenic rides on the new Lone Peak Tram up to the summit for views of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Wonder-filled walks are the Enchanted Forest will deliver. Over 10,000 twinkling lights illuminate a path through the mountaintop forest. Then roast gooey s’mores around the outdoor fireplace at the end. You can also snowshoe, horseback ride and fly fish in winter. The quaint mountain village includes dining, shopping and gear rentals.

Where to eat and sleep

Winter in Big Sky, Montana
Photo credit: Justine Jane

Four hotel properties and several condo options are available in the Big Sky Resort Mountain Village. My family stayed in a loft room in the Huntley Lodge. It included two queen beds on the main level and a queen/twin bunk in the upstairs loft. There was a couch area with a huge window overlooking Lone Mountain where you can relax and après. The Huntley Lodge features a large, outdoor heated pool that was steamy and comfortable to swim in in the middle of winter. It is flanked by two hot tubs that families and friends kick back in.

There are so many food options at Big Sky Resort that you really don’t need to leave. From fine dining with mountain views to more casual craft burger and beer places to a food hall with pizza, sushi, tacos, burgers and salads. Make it memorable with a meal at Everett’s 8800, which is 8,800 feet above sea level. Take a chairlift to enjoy lavish views and exceptional eats. Reservations open up 30 days in advance.

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Cortney Fries
Cortney Fries
An award-winning travel journalist, Cortney Fries (pronounced "freeze") has been writing about family travel for over a decade. She knows that parents planning trips are looking for all members to have fun and make lasting memories. Cortney believes that you should definitely try anything that makes you slightly nervous.


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