More than a Ski Town

More than a Ski Town

Stoops, Kira
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While Big Sky has a reputation as a ski town, there are plenty of other diversions in this little mountain hamlet. For starters, there's skimming for skiing discounts. Big Sky Resort offers a Half-Price Week from January 3-9 for frequent ski cardholders, or you can consider volunteering for a season at Eagle Mount to get in extra turns. And don’t be afraid to clip coupons—for example, the MSU Pocket Guide offers students $5 off a single-day pass.

Big Sky Resort always has entertainment for every family member: check out the Sno-Ball on January 15 in the plaza for fun activities, a bouncy house, and ice carving for the kids⎯followed shortly by the Sno-Bar for the grown-ups, with dancing, drinks, and music. If you’re looking for something with a little more destruction, enter the Big Sky Dummy Jump on February 12, in which dummies are buckled in, launched off the Ambush Headwall, and by our guess, probably don't stick it.

The spandex-and-skinny-ski crowd should check out the Glide and Gorge at Lone Mountain Ranch on March 6, where you can rack up calories, burn calories, and drink calories. Ski from locale to locale, pausing en route at various stopovers for another yummy course: gourmet appetizers, soups, entrees, desserts, and plenty of wine and local microbrews. If you get into it, consider staying for the whole cross-country-themed weeklong celebration, which features family relays, hooky-bobbin', clinics, and more. If you'd like to skip the skis altogether, some folks snowshoe the entire route at Glide and Gorge. Or consider a Plod and Give, of sorts.

For another great cause, head out to watch the Special Olympics of Montana’s second Big Sky Area Winter Games, February 28–March 1. Over 100 participants will gather at Moonlight Basin to compete.

But in Big Sky, the best events are sometimes the unplanned ones. Create your own event by renting the forest service's Garnet Mountain Fire Lookout for the night. Plan to ski or snowshoe up that day (it's a climb of about 2,800 feet, and between 4-10 miles depending on snow line) and get a fire going in the wood stove. Outstanding views make getting there by sunset and getting up for sunrise worth it.

Sound a little too strenuous? Plan to be pulled along instead at Spirit of the North Dog Sled Adventures, where the feisty malamutes are all too happy to drag you on half-day or full-day adventures. Or skip the dogs and hop on a sled; Big Sky has official sledding hills but just about any snowy slope will do. (For a more controlled experience and a potentially faster ride, hit up Big Sky's Tubing Park.) Prefer a different sort of sled? The Big Sky area's ample dumps provide an ideal place to bring your two-stroke steed. All those trails provide plenty of snowshoeing opportunities, too.

Still sound a little too strenuous? Consider kicking it back a notch to the Lone Peak Brewery, where sampling the local microbrews is a sport of sorts. Or go for the full treatment: an evening at Montana Dinner Yurt. As the name subtly implies, it's dinner in a yurt, but it's so much more: a quick snowcat ride leads you to an intimate hideout where a gourmet, multicourse meal is served with live acoustic guitar by a fire. Save this one for the out-of-town guests, and make sure to impress them with the backcountry stars.

Big Sky's sushi, ice-skating rinks, and spas tempt visitors off the slopes. That said, it would be some sort of journalistic gaffe not to mention: Big Sky, with Big Sky Resort and Moonlight Basin's combined acreage, offers the Biggest Skiing in America. Yep, it gets no bigger. But with the wealth of winter going-ons here, you don't need a pair of skis or a snowboard to soak it all up.

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