It’s fitting that OnTheSnow skiers voted Big Sky into the Best All-Mountain Terrain VCA hall of fame for 2014, because as of this season, it has more of it to ski than any other resort in the United States.
Sheila Chapman, public relations manager for Big Sky Resort, names “The vast amount of terrain from green circle to double black diamond,” as the mountain’s biggest differentiator. With 9 square miles of skiing and consistent great snow, dreams of fresh tracks until last chair come true there.
Adding the neighboring Moonlight Basin and Spanish Peaks to its ranks for the 2013/2014 ski season, Big Sky—last year’s Best Overall Resort—now has even more to love, featuring 5,750 skiable acres across a whopping 250 runs, accessible via 23 chairlifts and 10 surface lifts that climb four mountains—Spirit (formerly Spanish Peaks), Flat Iron, Andesite and the tallest, Lone Mountain, from which you can admire the views of three states and two National Parks.
“Big Sky Resort has more than 2,400 acres of beginner and intermediate skiable terrain to more than 2,200 acres of advance skiable terrain,” reports Chapman. That last roughly 1,100 acres is for the fearless—and the fittest—boasting expert steep terrain off of the iconic Lone Peak. At 11,166 feet in elevation, the legendary Lone Peak enables Big Sky to claim not only the biggest skiing in the U.S., but also some of the steepest in-bounds slopes in North America.
All this is, no doubt, why Big Sky visitors call it an “Unforgettable” “Skier/boarder paradise” with “Great skiing, great mountain, ridiculous in-bounds terrain.”
Skiers working up to the expert level need not be intimidated, though, and Chapman makes some recommendations for each echelon along the way:
Must-ski beginner runs
> Mr. K: A great run for any level with perfect rolling pitch and fall line. This crowd-pleasing green run drops 1,750 feet over about 3 miles.
> Cinnabar: Accessible from both the Six Shooter chair lift (via Lazy Jack) and the Iron Horse Quad chair lift, this wonderful, long run takes skiers and riders through rolling sections of tree clusters and wide open terrain.
Must-ski intermediate runs
> Horseshoe: A beautiful scenic blue run looking out to Fan Mountain that is 3 miles long, groomed to perfection with steep headwalls. As an intermediate skier improves, check out the gladed black diamond run off the ridge.
> Elk Park: A natural open meadow, considered one of the premier groomed cruiser runs in the country with gentle rolls and a consistent pitch dropping 1,700 vertical feet.
Must-ski advanced runs
> The Bowl: Wide open with several lines or easier traversing for the timid, The Bowl is at the base of Lone Peak Cirque with the Gullies, which are awe inspiring expert runs looming overhead.
> Highway: Challenger lift terrain offers steeps and glades. Try Highway for a steep fall line, choose left or right and dip into the trees of St. Alphonse or Zucchini Patch.
Must-ski expert runs
> Big Couloir: Big Sky’s signature run has a 50-degree pitch and more than 1,000-foot vertical drop, providing a feeling of heli-skiing but in-bounds. Requires skiers to sign out with ski patrol, have a partner, transceiver, probe and shovel. An absolute must for any expert skier or snowboarder.
> Headwaters: Multiple expert chutes with hiking access via Headwaters chair or the Challenger lift. Technical freeskiing at its best.