A Magical Winter Family Vacation in Big Sky, Montana
We were dreaming of a white Christmas and boy did we get one! We decided to take our 2 children ages 10 and 12 to Big Sky, Montana for an unforgettable winter break. Living in Texas usually means a pretty warm winter with zero snowball fights so we decided that while our kids are young enough to appreciate building a snowman, we should rent a house in Big Sky, Montana and we headed North!
Big Sky is a community in the Rocky Mountains of southern Montana. It’s known for the ski and downhill mountain-bike trails of Big Sky Resort with plenty to do in both winter and summer seasons. Southeast of town is Yellowstone National Park, a MUST SEE with wildlife, hot springs and gushing geysers. To the northeast, the choppy Gallatin River (icy river while we were there) cuts through the rugged Gallatin Canyon.
We flew into Bozeman and drove to Big Sky to our house. It was late upon arrival after two failed attempts to land due to weather conditions - so we couldn’t see anything in the dark as we headed up the mountain. Little did we realize the majesty that awaited us on our first morning! We awoke to a frosty Winter Wonderland - a sea of Christmas trees covered in snow. The view from our living room was breathtaking and the kids squealed with delight!
Here are a few of our family favorite winter adventures we experienced while in Big Sky!
BIG SKY RESORT - The resort, located right around the corner from our house offered breathtaking views and an expansive expert and advanced terrain while including a huge network of trails suited for the intermediate and beginner skier or snowboarder. The resort is the basecamp to Yellowstone National Park and provides daily shuttles to Yellowstone’s west entrance. There is plenty of dining, lodging, and shopping possibilities too.
1. Ski Lessons - Mom down! First adventure - ski school (yikes!) We planned a private family lesson from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. which was a lifesaver. It was more expensive but worth every penny and the instructor spent 3 hours patiently teaching us the pizza wedge! I discovered I am not a skier after all!
2. Montana Jack - Great eating right off the slopes! After our lesson, we were totally exhausted and headed to Montana Jack for burgers and a pint. The kids thoroughly enjoyed huge mugs of hot cocoa and we thawed out for an hour before heading back out.
3. Hungry Moose - Located in the Mountain Mall at the resort and also in Big Sky Town Center. A great little market/deli to grab lunch or supplies to stock your kitchen!
4. Torch Light Parade - A very special Christmas Eve parade of Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Sports instructors flowing down Andesite mountain with flares on their poles and skiing down in single file. It was such a beautiful sight and a spectacular firework display after. We were all in awe of the lights!
320 RANCH SLEIGH RIDE - We signed up for the evening Appetizer Ride which included a chilly but beautiful Sleigh ride to Mountain Man Campsite along the Gallatin River, bowl of wild game chili, cheese, crackers, popcorn, hot beverages and ranch stories by a bonfire! This was such a treat for the kids but COLD. We brought blankets and while we waited for our sleigh, mom and dad had a couple of hot toddy’s at the restaurant at the ranch!
WEST YELLOWSTONE - The perfect day trip about an hour drive from Big Sky. West Yellowstone is a town in southern Montana. It’s a gateway to Yellowstone National Park, known for the huge Old Faithful geyser and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
1. Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center - We spent most of the day at this wolf and grizzly preserve and learned about the stories of the animals, how and why they were being protected and the kids actually helped feed the bears in their “Keeper Kids” program. Designed for kids ages 5-12, this unique hands-on 30-minute program teaches kids about grizzly bear eating habits. Then they will accompany the naturalist into the bear habitat to hide food for the bears. After the food is hidden, they can see first-hand how bears use their sense of smell to search out the food they had hidden.
2. Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon - We meandered into West Yellowstone and found this saloon style type pizza joint! Honestly hands down the best pizza we have ever had! Apparently only using the freshest ingredients and Wheat Montana flour for the dough. We had the place all to ourselves in December but heard it is slammed in the summer!
BIG SKY TOWN CENTER
1. Roxy’s Market - A cool local grocery market with local farm items, fresh produce and other goodies. We bought groceries and cooked each meal in our house which saved money and provided the family chef with lots of fun. I actually ordered a turkey and they cooked it for us to pick up Christmas morning.
2. Choppers Grub and Pub - Hang out with the locals and choose from over 100 beers (16 on tap), 50 wines and a wide variety of freshly prepared menu items, Choppers Grub & Pub has something for everyone in the family.
3. Big Sky Town Center Rink - Outdoor ice rink in the town center of Big Sky, Montana. Offering open skating, youth hockey clinics, curling and broomball.
RENTING A VACATION RENTAL HOME - Genius idea! Having a full gourmet kitchen meant cooking bountiful breakfasts before hitting the slopes and enjoying homemade dinners at night. We were able to cook healthy meals and relax in a home away from home environment PLUS take a dip in the hot tub. Bonus! The kids had their own space to unwind and the best part was the sledding in our own driveway!
Here are a couple of favorite summer adventures we hope to experience on our next trip to Big Sky!
Ousel Falls Park Trail is a 1.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Gallatin Gateway, Montana that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is mainly used for hiking, walking, nature treks, and bird watching and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail. Ousel Falls Trail connects the Big Sky Town Center to Ousel Falls Park.
Explore Big Sky Resort and Moonlight's hiking trails, spanning over 16 miles of rolling trails through forest, wetlands, wildflowers. Discover the miles and miles of trails in Gallatin National Forest or close neighbor Yellowstone National Park. Summer fun includes horseback riding, zipline tours, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing and best of all - wildlife viewing!
Check out Clanventure's Happy Trails Big Sky Vacation Rental home here!