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Big Sky, a winter wonderland.
Big Sky, a winter wonderland.

Photo courtesy of Moonlight Basin

Tis’ the season for snow-capped mountains, skiing, snowshoeing, sleighride dinners and much more. Big Sky becomes a magical winter wonderland with ample adventures to choose from in the colder months. Here are a few of Buck’s T-4’s recommendations. 

We’ve used the ski-trail rating system to communicate the different difficulty levels of winter recreational activities in the Big Sky area. Green circle activities are designated the easiest, made accessible to beginners and recreationists of all levels. The next level up are the blue square adventures that are slightly more challenging, meant for an intermediate skill level or above. Lastly, black diamond pursuits are for the advanced and most adventurous.

Green Circle – Beginner

Snowshoeing– Get back to the basics with a trek on foot through the snow. Whether traveling alone or on a guided expedition, you’ll discover the wonders of winter – wildlife and majestic scenery and surroundings. Snowshoe rentals and trail information are available at outdoor retailers around Big Sky. 

Jakes Horses– Travel on horseback during the wintertime in Big Sky with a trail ride at Jakes Horses, located a short distance from Buck’s T-4. Running year-round, Jake’s recommends winter riders to dress warm to better enjoy the majestic mountain surroundings. Call for reservations and pricing. 

Snow Coach Tours Yellowstone National Park– Experience the grand beauty of Yellowstone National Park during the winter months on a guided tour. Snow coaches provide small groups the opportunity to access the park in comfort and style, while also stopping for guests to capture the major attractions and wildlife sightings. Accessible to all ages and physical abilities, plan this perfect activity for everyone to enjoy. 

Blue Square – Intermediate 

Cross Country Skiing– Relish in Big Sky’s alpine terrain on a pair of skinny skis. Voted Cross Country Skier Magazines #1 Nordic ski destination in North America, Lone Mountain Ranch hosts 85 kilometers of groomed trails for beginners and experts alike. Whether looking for a leisurely day with friends or a workout to get your heart beating, LMR offers both season passes and day tickets. Take a lesson, guided tour or go alone to explore this award-winning destination. 

On the flip side, Gallatin National Forest also provides a number of back country trails to venture out on cross-country skis. Rentals and ski condition information are available at outdoor stores throughout Big Sky. 

Snowmobiling (Canyon Adventures)– Throttle up! Miles of groomed trails and untouched meadows of fresh snow make snowmobiling a winter mecca for endless turns. Surrounded by the Spanish Peaks, Taylor Peaks, Lone Mountain and Madison Range, excitement will ensue in the crisp mountain air. Full and half day rates are available for rentals and guided trips at Canyon Adventures, which is right next to Buck’s T-4. Snowmobile right here in Big Sky! 

Dog Sledding– The dog days of winter! Travel into Montana’s back country on a pulled behind a dog-powered sled. Spirit of the North Dog Sled Adventures trips take off from Moonlight Basin, one mile above the Big Sky Resort Mountain Village, where you’ll take in the mountainous views of Lone Mountain and the Spanish Peaks. Located close to Buck’s, Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures trips meet at the Rainbow Ranch Lodge in Gallatin Canyon, offering a 2.5-hour tour or one-hour dog-sled ride. Reservations recommended and required. 

Black Diamond – Expert 

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding at Big Sky Resort– Known as the Biggest Skiing in America, Big Sky Resort has 5,850 acres of skiable terrain and 4,350 feet of vertical. One of the ski community’s best kept secrets, Lone Peak and the surrounding mountain landscape provide a big mountain ski environment and no-wait lift lines to create a skier’s paradise. Go big on the triple black ski runs from atop the summit of Lone Mountain, sitting at 11,166 feet, or take it a bit easier on the lower mountain trails. Either will fill you day with endless entertainment. With a vast spread, check out their terrain breakdown by skill level.

Terrain breakdown:

  • Beginner – 15% 
  • Intermediate – 25%
  • Advanced – 42%
  • Expert – 18% 

Back Country Skiing– Daring and dangerous, back country skiing isn’t for the faint of heart. Be prepared. It’s an absolute necessity to have an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe at the very minimum. Better yet, it’s smart to have avalanche knowledge from a certified course and go with a like-minded partner. 

With mountains all around, Big Sky’s back country becomes almost endless for the accelerated adventurer. Beehive Basin and Yellow Mountain Meadows are two favorite local spots.  

Make sure to review the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center’s daily avalanche forecast before heading out at www.mtavalanche.com.

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