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Big Sky
Big Sky Resort in 2006
Big Sky Resort in 2006
Location Big Sky,
Madison County,
Montana
 United States
Nearest city Bozeman - 50 mi (80 km)
Coordinates 45°15′0″N 111°25′0″W / 45.25000°N 111.41667°W / 45.25000; -111.41667Coordinates: 45°15′0″N 111°25′0″W / 45.25000°N 111.41667°W / 45.25000; -111.41667
Vertical 4,350 ft (1,326 m)
total
Top elevation 11,166 ft (3,403 m)
Base elevation 6,800 ft (2,073 m)
Lone Moose
7,500 ft (2,286 m)
Mountain Village
Skiable area 5,800 acres (23.5 km2)
Runs 250+
Ski trail rating symbol-green circle.svg - 15% beginner
Ski trail rating symbol-blue square.svg - 25% intermediate
Ski trail rating symbol-black diamond.svg - 60% advanced
Longest run 6 miles (10 km)
Lift system 36 lifts
Snowmaking 10%
Website bigskyresort.com

Big Sky Resort is a ski resort in the western United States, located in southwestern Montana in Madison County. An hour south of Bozeman via U.S. Highway 191 in Big Sky, Montana, it is the second-largest ski resort in the United States by acreage.

Opened 47 years ago in late 1973, Big Sky Resort has more than 5,800 acres (9.1 sq mi; 23.5 km2) of terrain and a vertical drop of 4,350 feet (1,330 m). In July 2013, Big Sky Resort acquired 200 acres (0.8 km2) on Spirit Mountain, which were previously owned by Spanish Peaks, a private club. In October of the same year, Big Sky Resort acquired the terrain and facilities of Moonlight Basin, a neighboring resort that shared the northern exposure of Lone Mountain.

Big Sky Resort also offers meeting space for conferences, weddings, and corporate retreats.

Resort history

The resort was founded by Montana native Chet Huntley, the retired co-anchorman of The Huntley–Brinkley Report of NBC News. Big Sky opened in December 1973, with its main base area at an elevation of 7,510 ft (2,290 m) above sea level, on the eastern face of the 11,167-foot (3,404 m) Lone Mountain, the sixty-seventh highest mountain in Montana, and the seventh-highest mountain in the state outside of the Beartooth Range.

The first three lifts installed included a gondola and two chairlifts. The enclosed gondola carried four skiers per cabin, and climbed 1,525 feet (465 m) to an elevation of 9,040 ft (2,755 m). The nearby Lone Peak triple chairlift provided the lift-served maximum of 9,800 ft (2,985 m), unloading at the bowl 1,366 ft (416 m) beneath Lone Mountain's summit, providing a vertical drop of just under 2,300 ft (700 m), and the Explorer double chair served novice terrain just above the base. The fourth lift was the Andesite double, which climbed the north face of adjacent Andesite Mountain to 8,700 ft (2,650 m); it was renamed Ram's Horn in 1978, and replaced with the Ramcharger high speed quad in 1990.

Boyne Resorts purchased the resort in 1976, following Huntley's death from cancer in March 1974, and the decision of owner Chrysler Corporation to divest its real estate development assets.

Lone Peak, Big Sky, Montana
Lone Peak, the top of the resort mountain

The resort grew steadily over the following decades, adding lifts and more than tripling the terrain available for skiing and snowboarding. The fifth lift, a second chairlift on Andesite Mountain, was installed in the summer of 1979. The Mad Wolf double climbed Andesite's eastern face and lowered Big Sky's minimum elevation 540 ft (165 m) to 6,970 ft (2,125 m). This increased the area's vertical drop to over 2,800 ft (855 m). The Mad Wolf lift was replaced with the Thunder Wolf high speed quad in 1994.

Two lifts were added in the 1980s, Gondola Two was installed in parallel to the first gondola, and the Challenger double chair served upper-elevation expert terrain on the north edge of the ski area. A tow was later added above this lift. Gondola Two was replaced with a Doppelmayr high speed quad, Swift Current 4, in 1997. The eighth lift at Big Sky was the Southern Comfort on the south side of Andesite Mountain, a Heron-Poma triple chairlift acquired from Copper Mountain in Colorado, installed in 1990 and upgraded to a high speed quad for the 2004-2005 ski season.

In the fall of 1995, Big Sky installed the Lone Peak Tram to provide access to expert terrain from the 11,166-foot (3,403 m) Lone Mountain summit. The Shedhorn double chair was also part of this expansion, installed in 1995 on the lower south face of Lone Mountain.

The tram increased Big Sky's vertical drop to 4,180 ft (1,275 m). The minimum elevation was lowered further in the fall of 1999, with the addition of a used triple chairlift from Keystone Resort in Colorado, starting at a base elevation of 6,800 ft (2,075 m) at Lone Moose Meadows. This increased the ski area's total vertical drop to 4,350 ft (1,330 m), with the maximum continuous vertical drop increased to 4,100 ft (1,250 m) from the top of the tram to the main base area.

In 1990 the Shoshone Condominium Hotel and the Yellowstone Conference Center were built.

In April 2000, Boyne Resorts announced that an estimated $400 million in improvements would take place over the next ten years to the Mountain Village and the ski area. Later in 2000, the $54 million Summit Hotel was completed. In late 2007, the $25 million Village Center Complex was opened.

In 2007, Big Sky expanded the skiing opportunities on the south face of Lone Peak with the reinstallation of the original Southern Comfort triple chairlift as the Dakota chairlift on the south side of Lone Peak, providing access to the accompanying out-of-bounds sidecountry, Dakota Territory. Gondola One was retired in the summer of 2008, dismantled due to the rising cost of repairs.

Big Sky's neighbor on its north boundary, Moonlight Basin, merged with Big Sky Resort in October 2013.

In 2016, Big Sky Resort installed two new Doppelmayr chairlifts as part of BigSky2025, a 10-year, $150-million project. The Lone Peak triple chairlift in the bowl was replaced with Powder Seeker, a six-seat high-speed chairlift with heated seats and bubble covers. The same summer, the Challenger double chairlift, which had suffered a mechanical failure, was replaced by a triple chairlift with a conveyor load.

In 2018, as part of the Big Sky 2025 plan, Doppelmay built North America's first ever high speed eight pack in the form of the Ramcharger 8, which replaced an existing Doppelmayr high speed quad from the base area to the summit of Andesite Mountain and has many of the same features as Powder Seeker. Billed as "the most technologically advanced lift ever built," it opened on December 15, 2018. That same season, the original Ramcharger high speed quad was relocated to the south side of Lone Peak where it replaced the Shedhorn double chairlift.

Activities

on the mountain. Golf and horseback riding are available near the Meadow Village at an elevation of 6,300 feet (1,920 m), between the ski area and US-191.

Terrain Aspects - Skiing

  • North: 37%
  • West: 2%
  • East: 36%
  • South: 25%

Lone Peak Tram

Lone Peak Tram, January 2018
Lone Peak Tram, January 2018

The Lone Peak Tram is an aerial tramway at the Big Sky Resort that begins at the top of the Powder Seeker chairlift and unloads at the summit of Lone Mountain at 11,166 ft (3,403 m). Opened in the fall of 1995, the 15 passenger cab climbs 1,420 ft (433 m) over a distance of 2,828 ft (862 m), with two cabs traveling in opposite directions. It provides access to the most difficult terrain at Big Sky Resort, including former Moonlight Basin terrain. Construction was completed by the high-altitude construction firm Matrix, based in Alaska. Starting in the summer 2012 season, Big Sky Resort introduced daily summer tram rides to take visitors to the top of Lone Peak, called The Lone Peak Expedition.

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