Farewell, Winter

Big Sky Resort, Big Sky Pond Skim

Farewell, Winter

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David Tucker

Closing week at Big Sky. 

I have to admit, until winter returned over the weekend, I was in full mountain-bike mode. Now, after skiing powder for two days, I find myself seasonally confused. Should I drive out to Lewis & Clark and rip singletrack, or should I wake up at dawn and earn my turns up in the northern Bridgers? A good problem, indeed, but one with an easy answer. Spring is just getting going, and after that comes summer and fall—plenty of time to bike. That leaves me with winter, and luckily, there's one place where winter isn't quite over: Big Sky. Here's how to maximize the resort's final week.

1. Take the bus. If you don't have a season pass, lift tickets at the window ain't cheap. But there's no negotiating price, so cut your costs elsewhere. The Skyline has pickup points around Bozeman and makes for a stress-free dash down the canyon. You'll save on gas, plus you can pop an extra beer or two at après and sleep 'em off on the way back to town.

2. Ski Moonlight. Just like in the Bridgers, winter returned to Big Sky last week. While the resort didn't break any snowfall records this year, the new snow over the last few days should make the skiing great, especially if you stick to north-facing areas like the Headwaters or the North Summit Snowfield. Both are experts-only, but shouldn't be a problem for seasoned Bridger skiers. If you aren't feeling up for the steeps, the long groomers on the Moonlight side should have excellent conditions.

Moonight Basin, Headwaters, Big Sky
                                                                        The north-facing Headwaters chutes: late-season gold. 

3. Eat in the Meadow. While the ski area has a variety of great eateries—my favorite is Moonlight Tavern—there are more options for the budget-minded in the meadow. Plus you can get away from the tourist crowd. For monster burritos, head to the Wrap Shack. Split one and share a frozen margarita to cut your costs in half.

4. Attend the Pond Skim. Better yet, take the plunge yourself. Do it once, and you never have to do it again. If you aren't into making a fool of yourself for the enjoyment of others, grab a beverage and a burger in the main base area and revel in the carnage.

Big Sky Pond Skim
                                                                                            Turns out, Superman can't skim.

5. Buy a season pass. Okay, okay—this option doesn't sound like a cost-cutting tactic. But Big Sky brought back some lower price points for next year, and introduced some intriguing options. I got the Montana Pass, which at $150, is double the old Sky Card rate, but it does include two weeks of free skiing and one regular ticket for any day of your choosing, excepting holidays. There are also new, cheaper passes that don't include Tram access. This is a good option for families, intermediates, and anyone who's willing to settle for hiking the A-Zs and Headwaters. 

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