If you plan to go to Yellowstone National Park or anywhere in southwestern Montana, Big Bend is an area you don't want to miss. With the vast amounts of activity options in the Yellowstone region, choosing the right things to do can be tricky. Luckily, we've researched all the best places in Big Sky and have them on a list for you here.
Big Sky, Montana, is a fantastic part of the state. The popular outdoors and skiing community has activities for everyone. The top 11 things to do in and around Big Sky are:
- Big Sky Ski Resort
- Big Sky Chapel
- Soldiers Chapel
- Historic Crail Ranch
- Creighton Block Gallery
- Hike Ousel Falls Road
- Hike Garnet Mountain Fire Lookout
- Hike Beehive Basin Trail
- Hike Yellow Muse Trail
- Hike Swan Creek Trail
- Hike Lava Lake Trail
Seeing each place on this list will give you the ultimate Big Sky experience. There is some crucial information about each location and activity you need to know about to get the best out of your visit to Big Sky. Please keep reading to learn more about this list of 11, why you should visit Big Sky, and where to stay when you arrive.
Why Should You Visit Big Sky, Montana?
You should visit Big Sky, Montana to have the perfect taste of what the Rocky Mountain region has to offer. Outdoor activities are the best and most common things to do in the area, so if you like skiing, hiking, fishing, golfing, or mountain biking, this is the place for you.
Big Sky is located in southwestern Montana, just south of Bozeman. The community of Big Sky is the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, and it shares Yellowstone's exquisite natural beauty.
Big Sky has a rocky mountain climate that varies greatly between the summer and winter. The summers are often warm and comfortable, while the winters can be frigid with large amounts of snow. Luckily, plenty of activities are available during both the warm and cold seasons.
The Top Things to Do in Big Sky, Montana
The following list includes a balance of natural and cultural locations and activities that make Big Sky magical. Again, the available activities in Big Sky look very different depending on the season. Expect hiking and mountain biking for summer because winter is reserved for snow-based fun.
1. Big Sky Ski Resort
The Big Sky Ski Resort is one of the largest ski areas in the country in terms of land meant for skiing. There are ski slopes of all difficulties, including some of the most challenging slopes in North America. The resort has activities other than skiing, like ziplining, and summertime activities like hiking and archery.
The resort has a mountain village with places to shop and eat alongside several hotels providing quick access to the slopes. A tram can take guests up to the top of Lone Peak Mountain for panoramic views and the opportunity for a most extreme skiing session.
The Big Sky ski lifts are typically open from 9 am to 4 pm, but skiing and other activity availability vary depending on the time of year and weather. A lift ticket costs around $150 for adults and $90 for children, but discounts apply for season pass holders and other special members.
2. Big Sky Chapel
The Big Sky Chapel is an interfaith religious center located in the Big Sky Meadow Village. The chapel building is stunning, featuring mountain views and a log construction that makes it feel like part of the natural environment. The community sometimes hosts events at the chapel, so check out the events calendar to see what happens during your visit.
There is no cost to stop by and see the Big Sky Chapel and enter for reflection. The congregation holds routine services and musical performances that can all be found on their calendar.
3. Soldiers Chapel
Another local chapel in Big Sky is the Soldiers Chapel, which has a vital cultural significance for the community. The church is a tribute to a soldier from the Big Sky area who died during the Second World War as a part of the Montana National Guard. The Soldiers Chapel is also one of the oldest buildings in the Big Sky area.
The chapel is open daily for reflection from May through September, and there is no cost to enter.
4. Historic Crail Ranch
Crail Ranch is a former homestead-turned-museum near the Big Sky Chapel in the Big Sky Meadow Village. The property, constructed in 1902, now serves as an educational experience to teach visitors how life in the valley used to be.
There are guided museum tours on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 3 pm during summer. The grounds are otherwise open from sunrise to sunset for self-guided walking tours. The tours are free for all visitors.
5. Creighton Block Gallery
The Creighton Block Gallery is an art gallery located in the most central part of the Big Sky community. The gallery has exhibits encompassing traditional and contemporary art focused on Western subjects and life.
The museum is open from 11 am to 5 pm from Tuesday to Saturday, and admission is free for all ages.
Hiking Around Big Sky, Montana
The remainder of the top 11 things to do in Big Sky is centered around hiking, one of the region's favorite pastimes. The following hiking trails vary in difficulty, but all offer amazing views of the mountains and meadows of the Big Sky area. Please pay attention to the elevation, especially if you're from a sea-level city, and keep in mind the wildlife.
6. Ousel Falls Road
This trail takes you through beautiful scenery to reach the final destination of Ouesel Falls, a magnificent waterfall. There are also views of the Gallatin River and the chance to see local wildlife.
The Ousel Falls Road trial can begin at the trailhead or the Big Sky town center. The hike is a 1.6-mile round trip from the trailhead and town center; the hike is 5.6 miles total. The hike is of moderate difficulty and can be made year-round.
7. Garnet Mountain Fire Lookout
The Garnet Mountain Fire Lookout is a mountaintop fire lookout post turned into a cabin where you can spend the night after a long hike up the mountain. From the top of the hill and inside the fire lookout, you can experience panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
Because of the higher elevation, the hike is more complicated. It is 4.5 miles to the top, and if you want to climb in the winter months, you will need snow equipment like snowshoes to succeed.
8. Beehive Basin Trail
Beehive Basin Trail is a beautiful hike that allows you to see mountain views, flora, and fauna. The climax of the trail is a Beehive Basin, which features a glacial lake and a stunning view of Lone Peak Mountain.
The hike is of moderate difficulty, requiring 6.6 miles of total hiking for a round-trip. The trail may require snow equipment during the colder months.
9. Yellow Mule Trail
Located to the southwest of Big Sky, along Flattop Mountain, this trail offers views of forests, meadows, and waterfalls. This trail is very close to the Ousel Falls Road trail but tends to be less busy.
The Yellow Mule Trail is a more challenging trail than the Ousel Fall Road Trail but is moderate at around 6 miles long. As with all trails in the region, exercise caution and use appropriate gear during the winter months.
10. Swan Creek Trail
As the name suggests, the Swan Creek Trail follows along the length of Swan Creek, which lies northeast of the main Big Sky area and forms one of its northern borders. Walk this trail if you want a nice, meandering path that follows a mountain stream through the Montana forest.
The trail is around 9 miles long for a round-trip, and Swan Creek is of moderate to easy difficulty because there isn't a huge elevation gain.
11. Lava Lake Trail
This trail is a little north of the Big Sky area, but worth the extra trip for the fantastic views and landscapes. Lava Lake Trail also follows a creek through the forest and alongside beautiful meadows but eventually comes to a large lake called Lava Lake. Lava Lake has blue Rocky Mountain water framed by gorgeous forests and tall mountain peaks.
The Lava Lake Trail is a 6-mile total return trip with an elevation gain of 1600 feet, giving it moderate difficulty. The lake access and overall beauty make it a slightly busier trail than others in the area. Lava Lake is a great place to swim in the summer, especially after completing the hike mid-day.
Where Should I Stay in Big Sky, Montana?
If you are interested in a hotel with an authentic Rocky Mountian feel, we suggest checking out Bucks T4 Lodge, located in the center of the greater Big Sky area.
We recommend the Residence Inn Big Sky for a familiar hotel with Montana charm and stunning views. It's even more centrally located, right in the center of downtown Big Sky.
Another option is a more common condo-style hotel called Hill Condo 1200. It's located in the Big Sky Mountain Village area and has rooms closer to apartments than hotels, complete with ovens and dishwashers.
Big Sky, Montana, does have something for everyone, but those with adventurous hearts feel most at home here. Whether visiting in winter or summer, you will have no issue staying entertained in Big Sky. We hope the activities on this list help you have a perfect trip.
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