Summertime, and the Big Sky living is easy, making it the perfect time to explore and experience Montana. A visit to Big Sky will provide you and your family with many adventures and memories that you’re sure to remember for a lifetime.
Divided into three areas, Canyon, Meadow and Mountain, Big Sky offers an abundance of outdoor recreation and events during the summertime months. Check out Buck’s local recommendations for each area, and keep up to date on all the local events with the Visit Big Sky events calendar.
Located near the entrance to Big Sky, the Gallatin Canyon is your gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Endless recreation, historic Big Sky establishments like Buck’s T-4, and only a short drive to the West Entrance of Yellowstone, where else would you rather be?
Hike– Whether a novice or advanced hiker, Big Sky offers remarkable hiking trails for adventurers of all levels. Some of our favorites include Porcupine Creek, Storm Castle and Lava Lake, amongst many others. Find the perfect trail for you and your fellow adventurers here. Oh, and don’t forget your bear spray!
Whitewater Raft– Geyser Whitewater Expeditions, conveniently located next door to Buck’s T-4, and Montana Whitewater Rafting take you down the majestic Gallatin River. A scenic whitewater float provides a more-gentle trip, while a whitewater trip will take you through rapids like Screaming Left, around House Rock and down the Mad Mile. Make sure to keep an eye out for a wide array of wildlife.
Horseback Ride– Enjoy the vast Big Sky scenery atop a fellow steed. Jake’s Horses and Canyon Adventures, both located a trot down the road from Buck’s T-4, offer guided trail rides for any experience level, from beginners to the most experienced riders. Giddy on up for an hour, full day trail ride or any amount between!
The Meadow, including the Meadow Village Center and Town Center, is the heart of Big Sky during the summer months, providing dining, shopping and a vast number of events for locals and visitors, alike, to enjoy.
Farmers Market– Held every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Fire Pit Park in Town Center, the Big Sky Farmers Market hosts a variety of local and regional merchants including farmers, professional artisans, artists, food and beverage vendors and more. Check out this weekly event during the summer months, June to September.
Music in the Mountains– A family-friendly concert series, Music in the Mountains kicks off the 2019 season on Thursday, June 20 at the Center Stage at Town Center Park. Starting at 6 p.m. every Thursday, this free weekly outdoor event features up-and-coming touring musicians as well as well-known artists. Mingle, dance and enjoy live music in the heart of Big Sky.
Golf – Surrounded by Big Sky mountain views, the Arnold Palmer designed 18 hole 72 par golf course at Big Sky Resort provides an alternative option to summertime mountain recreation, a leisurely “approach”. Book an early morning or late afternoon tee time, whichever is your hole in one.
A few miles up Lone Mountain Trail, the Mountain Village Center is your hub for anything and everything going on “up top,” as locals would say. Lone Peak, combined with Big Sky Resort, and the surrounding mountains provide access to many more Montana adventures and activities.
Mountain Biking– The 40+ miles of downhill trails at Big Sky Resort offers the area’s only lift accessible downhill trails. With beginner, intermediate and advanced and expert terrain, every rider can find a trail to fit their ability level. Operations for mountain biking open on June 15 on the Explorer lift, with Swift Current and Thunder Wolf lifts opening on June 22.
Scenic Views – Take in the views! Whether you’re on top of the summit of Lone Peak, made easily accessible by Big Sky Resort’s Scenic Lift Ride, hiking or relaxing, Big Sky is surrounded by never-ending scenery filled with high peaks, alpine lakes and rivers, colorful wildflowers and animated wildlife. Blink and you may miss the bears.
Boat Rentals at Lake Levinsky – Give a new meaning to spending a day at the lake. Lone Peak ascends high above Lake Levinsky, providing a dramatic backdrop unlike most. Hangout on the shore or enjoy your time out on the lake in a pedal boat, canoe, kayak or stand up paddle board. All are available to rent from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily.
Just down the road
Yellowstone National Park– Big Sky is only a short distance to the West Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Striking canyons, mountainous rivers, lush forests, abundant wildlife, hot springs and spouting geysers, make visiting the world’s first national park an unforgettable experience, especially for summertime visitors.
Hummocks and Uplands Trails: Meet at the Hummocks and Uplands Trailhead. From Town Center, head east on Aspen Leaf Drive, cross a bridge over the river and continue up the road until you see the parking area and trailhead on your left.
Ousel Falls Trail: Meet at the Ousel Falls Trailhead. From Town Center, head south on Ousel Falls Road for approximately 2 miles, turn left after Crown Butte Road into trailhead parking area.
Crail Ranch Trail: Meet at Historic Crail Ranch. From the Meadow Village head north on Little Coyote Road. Pass the Big Sky Community Park then turn left onto Spotted Elk Road, the ranch will be on your left.
Little Willow Way: Meet at the Big Sky Community Park near the River Pavilion. From the Meadow Village, head north on Little Coyote Road, go past the Big Sky Chapel and pond and turn right into the park. The River Pavilion is to the right near the playground.
Big Sky Community Park Climbing Boulders: Meet at the Big Sky Community Park near the climbing boulders. From the Meadow Village, head north on Little Coyote Road, go past the Big Sky Chapel and pond and turn right into the park. The climbing boulders are on the left near the skate park.
The boys of summer are in fact booked to play the Big Sky Town Center this summer, in a July 3 fundraiser for Morningstar Learning Center.
“It’s going to be a great time,” said Morningstar board member Tracy Jacobson, adding she thinks the show will draw fans from around Southwest Montana.
With a beach theme, the concert will be oriented around families, she added, with free admission for children under 12.
The fundraiser is part of an effort by Morningstar to raise $100,000 to match a donation from the Rapier Family Foundation contingent on the learning center doing just that. The money would go toward paying off the rest of the principal balance on Morningstar’s mortgage.
The idea to bring the Beach Boys was Kym Rapier’s, who is a longtime Beach Boys fan.
There will be 3,000 tickets available – they go on sale May 1 on ticketriver.com.
Vootie Productions, which does all of the Yellowstone Club’s shows, plus the Red Ants Pants Festival and the Targhee Bluegrass Festival, is producing the concert.
Summer Activities | Big Sky Day Trips Part Two: Lewis and Clark Caverns
Where we last left off, we had just finished up exploring Missouri Headwaters State Park with vistas of the headwaters and four surrounding mountain ranges. Next stop on the itinerary Lewis and Clark Caverns.
The drive to the caverns is beautiful. We traveled along in early Summer when everything was an exquisite green, the mountains were still snow capped and the wildflowers just began to bloom. I imagine that it would be just as pretty in September when all the fields take on a golden color.
Now the first fact I will point out to you is that Lewis and Clark did not discover these caverns. They never even set foot in them, but they did pass awfully close on their expedition. I guess that’s reason enough to name them so.
To explore the caverns you will take a two hour guided tour. You travel two miles through twisted, sometimes tight, dark dank corridors to see stalagmites, columns, stalactites and helicitites, Your guide will tell you in sing song voice at the beginning of the tour, “Let’s go spelunking.” Just what is spelunking? According to Wikipedia, it is the really cool term for describing exploration of wild caves. And the caverns are definitely wild.
The best part to me were the nicknames coined by your guides for all the different formations. In the Cathedral Room, a grand cave in the cavern, there was Snow White with her seven dwarfs. There as a young couple in love that you later saw as an elderly couple in love. My favorite is cave food. They had popcorn, grapes and the all time best bacon. I guess this is standard fare in all the caverns through out the country, the formations are renamed for what they most look like. Sometimes they were spot on.
I don’t think that their are specific age restrictions for the caverns, but I’d highly recommend ages 7 and up. For younger children it is a long hike in a very dark and cold environment. Everyone needs to bring a a sweater or lightweight jacket and for young children the whole experience might be both scary and a little bit boring after a while.
Next stop, Virginia City!
Distance from Buck’s T-4 Lodge: Approx. 85 miles, 1 hour and 40 mins drive time
Distance from Missouri Headwaters State Park: Aprox. 24 miles and 30 mins drive time Lewis and Clark Caverns Website
Cave Tours: 5/1 to 9/30 every Summer
Admission for Cave Tour: $15.00 for adults
Fishing: Yes, on the Jefferson, permits required.
Food and Drink: Yes, a small cafe with basic fare.
My aunt is on a mission to experience more of our home state—Montana. Having just lived here short of two years myself, I thought that I might join her pursuit. So we got to plotting, convinced my uncle to come along and decided to start in our own neck of the woods by taking a day trip from Big Sky.
Thankfully, the Sunday we chose for our adventure started out overcast but quickly turned into one of the few and far between sunny days we’ve had this spring. After the hour and 15 minute drive to Headwaters State Park the clouds had dissipated and we were basking in the sun (if you’re reading this Sun, please come back). So just what is Headwaters State Park? I actually didn’t find out until we got there.
Like so much else in southwest Montana, Headwaters is partially caught up in Lewis and Clark’s expedition. In 1805, they camped on what are now the park grounds. As you explore Headwaters dotted throughout the trails are little anecdotes about their expedition. The park is named for the confluence of the Jefferson and Madison rivers, which form the headwaters of the Missouri river. The Gallatin flowing from Big Sky, joins the Missouri soon after. All can be viewed at the park.
“Both Capt. C. and myself corresponded in opinon with rispect(sic) to the impropriety of calling either of these [three] streams the Missouri and accordingly agreed to name them after the President of the United States and the Secretaries of the Treasury and state.”
July 28, 1805, Meriwether Lewis
For me, the highlights of the visit to the park were the views. A short little hike takes you to vantage points that allow you to see four mountain ranges in one panorama—Bridger, Gallatin, Madison (home of our Lone Peak) and Tobacco Route. Definitely bring your camera if not for these views, the park itself has country charm to it. Starkly different from the lodge pole pines that line my field of vision daily. I see future picnics at the Headwaters in my future.
Stay tuned to hear about the rest of our journey.
Distance from Buck’s T-4: 62 miles
Drive Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Along the way: Bozeman, a laid back, cruisy town with some of the amenities Big Sky lacks (full size grocery store, movie theatre, mall) and a character all of its own. In the summer, Bozeman like Big Sky comes alive with music, outdoor concerts and crafts fairs.
Park Admission: Free to Montana Residents, $5.00/vehicle for non-residents
Dogs: Allowed on leash
Camping: Yes, $15 residents, $18-$23 for non-residents, you can even stay in a tipi
Open Year Round
Let’s just ignore the fact that it snowed today because now it’s sunny, the sky is blue and the clouds are big and white, and I want to write about summer.
We have had one hell of a winter this year, more snow than we’ve seen in years and the powder junkies came from far and wide to feed on the fruit La Nina bestowed on us in Big Sky, MT. Those of us who had the privilege of spending all winter long enjoying the fruit of La Nina are quite happy to see her go. We want summer and if you have ever had the opportunity to taste the Montana summer then you know exactly why.
Our summers are golden. Endless days, fresh mountain air, pristine streams, panoramic vistas to be had in every direction. Ever see the campaign about getting lost in Montana, well summer is definitely an excellent time to do it.
I’m addicted to the long days; it’s 8:30pm as I write this and not even close to dark. In another month night won’t come until after ten. One of my families favorite summertime activities is to sit outside by the river, build a fire and sip on glasses of port until the dark descends. I think that qualifies as heaven. Another new favorite that I’m just getting the hang of is fly fishing. I’ve been utilizing the assistance of an expert and managed to catch three rainbows in 15 minutes the other night at my super secret fishing hole. For me, summer evenings are what I live for, when the light becomes rich and honey like and somehow manages to make this beautiful place even more so.
Have I painted an enticing picture? If not, here are some images of Big Sky in the summer and some of the fun we get up to here (besides sip port by the fire).