Acres: 5,800 | Vertical: 4,350’ | Snowfall: 400” | bigskyresort.com
One of the largest ski areas in North America is getting $150 million in upgrades over the next decade, but you don’t have to wait to enjoy the benefits. This season, a new six-pack with heated seats and bubble shields replaces the Lone Peak triple, while the ailing Challenger double has become a high-speed triple with a conveyor-belt loading system that cuts travel time to the best stashes by a third. Big Sky also claims one of the longer seasons in Montana: “Early season and late season are great times to ski here,” says Dave Stergar, who logged 68 of his 72 ski days at Big Sky last year. “They get early snow being at 7,500-feet and up. April brings late storms, too.”
Can’t-Miss Run: The hairball Big Couloir draws an unforgettable 45-degree line down the middle of Lone Peak’s face before running out in a fast blue called Upper Morningstar. Otherwise hit the Liberty Bowl for wide-open expert runs right off the top.
Resort Bite: Elk chili or Swiss style käseschnitte grilled cheese (think open-face with an egg, tomato, and apple slices) at Everett’s 8800 on top of Andesite Mountain will provide just enough ballast for your beer intake down in the village at Montana Jack when the day is done.
Stay an Extra Day: Yellowstone National Park sits just 50 miles to the south. It takes on a spectacular winter persona with frosty bison, steamy geysers, and a fraction of the summer crowds. —Tim Neville
From the Early Winter 2016 issue.