Big Sky, Montana facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Big Sky, Montana
Census-designated place
Location of Big Sky, Montana
Location of Big Sky, Montana
Country United States
State Montana
Counties Gallatin, Madison
Area
 • Total 120.2 sq mi (311.4 km2)
 • Land 120.0 sq mi (310.8 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.6 km2)
Elevation 7,218 ft (2,200 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 2,308
 • Density 7.4/sq mi (2.9/km2)
Time zone Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP code 59716
Area code(s) 406
FIPS code 30-06325
GNIS feature ID 1853174

Big Sky is a census-designated place (CDP) in Gallatin and Madison counties in southwestern Montana. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 2,308. It is 45 miles (72 km) southwest of Bozeman. This unincorporated community straddles the two counties, is not considered a town, and has no town government. The primary industry of the area is tourism.

Geography

Big Sky is located at (45.269940, -111.299725), approximately midway between West Yellowstone and Bozeman on U.S. Highway 191 and just 15 miles (24 km) from the northwestern border of Yellowstone National Park.

The "Meadow" area of Big Sky lies in an alpine valley formed during the Cretaceous period. Initially called the "Gallatin Canyon Basin", the Meadow is braided with small rivers that channel mountain snow run-off. Fishing is permitted on all of these Gallatin feeders. Two ponds are found on the Middle Fork of the Gallatin River that bisects the Meadow, and fishing there is permitted for those 16 and younger. Since 1993, an innovative sewer system has protected the water in the area from sewage discharge. Several agencies, such as the Gallatin River Task Force, monitor the health of the rivers.

The community had two large ski resorts that are sited in the "Mountain" area: Big Sky Resort and Moonlight Basin. In October 2013, these resorts merged: both are now managed by Big Sky Resort, and both are alpine ski and golf resorts. The combined terrain of the two resorts allows them to market themselves as the "Biggest Skiing in America". The Spanish Peaks Mountain Club is an exclusive ski and golf resort that has three chairlifts and thirteen ski runs connecting it to Big Sky Resort at the base of Big Sky's Southern Comfort lift. Spanish Peaks is also now owned by Big Sky Resort, in collaboration with the Yellowstone Club. Another resort, Lone Mountain Ranch, is a Nordic ski and summer resort that professionally grooms over 75 kilometers of cross-country ski trails. Yellowstone Club, a private resort, is located to the south and adjacent to Big Sky Resort.

The "Canyon" area of Big Sky lies in the Gallatin Canyon, along the Gallatin River, a favorite for white water rafters and kayakers. The Gallatin River, named after Albert Gallatin who was the Secretary of the Treasury during the Lewis and Clark Expedition, is a Blue Ribbon trout stream that attracts fly-fishers from around the world. Outfitting firms can connect fly-fishers to renowned rivers, in particular the Madison and the Yellowstone. Several dude ranches (320 Guest Ranch, Elkhorn Ranch, Cinnamon Lodge and 9 Quarter Circle) operate in the Gallatin Canyon.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 120.2 square miles (311.4 km2), of which 120.0 square miles (310.8 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km2), or 0.18%, is water. Most of the CDP drains to the east into the Gallatin River, while the westernmost portions drain west via Cedar Creek and Jack Creek to the Madison River. The Gallatin and the Madison both drain north to the Missouri River.

Climate

This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Big Sky has a borderline humid continental (Dfb)/alpine subarctic climate (Dfc). for most of the area, but the lower elevations may be closer to a dry continental climate.

Climate data for Big Sky, Montana (1984–2005 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 55
(12.8)
57
(13.9)
65
(18.3)
76
(24.4)
83
(28.3)
91
(32.8)
95
(35)
93
(33.9)
91
(32.8)
84
(28.9)
68
(20)
53
(11.7)
95
(-17.8)
Average high °F (°C) 31.2
(-0.44)
35.2
(1.78)
43.2
(6.22)
51.5
(10.83)
61.8
(16.56)
69.2
(20.67)
77.8
(25.44)
78.0
(25.56)
68.6
(20.33)
55.6
(13.11)
37.9
(3.28)
29.5
(-1.39)
53.29
(11.829)
Average low °F (°C) 7.8
(-13.44)
7.2
(-13.78)
15.5
(-9.17)
22.8
(-5.11)
29.6
(-1.33)
35.6
(2)
40.1
(4.5)
38.2
(3.44)
32
(0)
23.7
(-4.61)
13.6
(-10.22)
6.6
(-14.11)
22.73
(-5.153)
Record low °F (°C) -39
(-39.4)
-42
(-41.1)
-20
(-28.9)
-15
(-26.1)
8
(-13.3)
20
(-6.7)
22
(-5.6)
20
(-6.7)
5
(-15)
-12
(-24.4)
-26
(-32.2)
-41
(-40.6)
-42
(-17.8)
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.42
(36.1)
1.16
(29.5)
1.23
(31.2)
1.33
(33.8)
2.75
(69.9)
2.82
(71.6)
1.69
(42.9)
1.64
(41.7)
1.57
(39.9)
1.52
(38.6)
1.39
(35.3)
1.4
(36)
19.92
(506)
Snowfall inches (cm) 31.9
(81)
20.7
(52.6)
21.1
(53.6)
8.2
(20.8)
4.9
(12.4)
1.2
(3)
.2
(0.5)
0
(0)
.3
(0.8)
5.5
(14)
19
(48)
31.4
(79.8)
144.4
(366.8)
Source: WRCC

Demographics

At the 2010 census, there were 2,308 people residing in the CDP. The population density was 10.1 per square mile.

Activities

Hiking trails thread throughout the landscape and into neighboring national forests. Camping sites are available throughout the Spanish Peaks and the Gallatin National Forest. Elk, deer, black bears, grizzlies, upland birds, waterfowl, and wolves call this area home. Hunting is prohibited in Big Sky proper, but it is permitted throughout the National Forests that surround the area. Recreational snowmobiling is also not permitted within the Meadow or Mountain terrain, but is permitted in the Gallatin Canyon and in areas to the south of Big Sky. Several snowmobiling outfitters are located in the canyon.

Big Sky offers a variety of recreational venues. In addition to outdoor activities, the Lone Peak Cinema movie theater shows current blockbuster films. The Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, a community and school-based facility, is located at the school on US Highway 191. The venue attracts local, national, and international artists in every genre (music, drama, dance, visual arts, and creative composition). Known to locals as the WMPAC, the center is home to the Big Sky Community Chorus, the Big Sky Community Theater, and Big Sky Broadway, a children's musical theater company. During the summer, the Arts Council of Big Sky presents weekly free music concerts with musicians from across the nation at Center Stage in Town Center Park. Each August, the Arts Council holds a four-day classical music festival. A wide variety of music can be heard year-round at the resorts and local restaurants and bars. Several art galleries feature local and regional photography and other visual media.

In mid-summer, Big Sky hosts the Big Sky PBR (Professional Bull Riders), which was awarded the Touring Pro Division "Event of the Year" in 2013 and 2014. The Big Sky Farmers Market features live music, children's activities, and over 90 vendors selling fresh, locally-grown food, and crafts each Wednesday during the summer months in Town Center's Fire Pit Park. In the winter months, Town Center Park hosts Big Sky's hockey and ice skating rink that is operated by the Big Sky Skating and Hockey Association.


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