An hour’s drive from Bozeman, Big Sky Ski Resort is one of the largest in North America, but there’s plenty to do around here even for non-skiers and the majestic mountain scenery will take your breath away.
Check into one of 22 cabins at Lone Mountain Ranch, ranging from quaint log cabins from the 1920s to the much newer Ridgetop Lodge party house that can sleep 18 guests across six bedrooms. Until the Montage Big Sky designed by BraytonHughes opens in 2021, this is hands down the nicest place to stay around here, with excellent all-inclusive packages. Big renovations a few years ago brought this ranch to the next level, including new restaurant Horn & Cantle, where you’ll find the best food in Big Sky, from elk meatballs and hearty bison sirloin to crispy skin local Montana trout washed down with flights of Montana whiskey.
For prospective home owners, Montage Residences Big Sky are already on the market, with 15 of the 39 sold to date. Prices for remaining residences range from $7 million for three bedrooms to $18 million for six bedrooms.
If you can hike, you can snowshoe, and Lone Mountain Ranch has more than 18 miles of groomed snowshoe trails to explore. Snowshoeing is fun, easy and great aerobic exercise for all ages and abilities. Head out with a naturalist guide to learn more about the flora and fauna you’ll encounter, then keep your snowshoes by your cabin door to wander at leisure. Keep an eye out for elk snow angels and territorial grizzly bear scratches on the Douglas fir and pine trees. Lone Mountain Ranch is licensed by the National Park Service at Yellowstone to provide backcountry snowshoe and Nordic ski tours too.
YELLOWSTONE BY SNOWCOACH OR SNOWMOBILE
Only 150,000 of Yellowstone’s more than four million annual visitors come during the winter season. However, winter is an exceptionally beautiful and peaceful time to enjoy the extreme, nearly extraterrestrial landscapes. The roaring silence of fierce winds and thick blankets of snow are juxtaposed with thermal features like geysers, hot springs, steam vents and colorful mud pots. For a more comfortable and less strenuous day, opt for a full day snowcoach tour to maximize your time, stopping at Old Faithful for lunch and an eruption. If you’re keen for more of an adrenaline rush and the chilling cold doesn’t scare you, a snowmobile tour is the way to go.
Glide through Moonlight Basin on a sled pulled by a dozen rambunctious Alaskan huskies with Spirit of the North. Bundle up for these daily morning and afternoon dog sled rides, which cover five miles of winter wonderland and are more interactive than most. Guests can help the mushers hook up the sled dogs after petting them and learning their names. After listening carefully to instructions, you can even try your hand at mushing and relive Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. A midway break for hot chocolate and cookies is the perfect chance for photos.
All winter discovery packages at Lone Mountain Ranch include a sleigh ride dinner courtesy of sturdy Belgian draft horses into the woods to North Fork Cabin, but even if you aren’t a ranch guest you’re welcome to join the fun. Down a shot of Montana honey moonshine with your neighbors as you pass around rosemary popovers to dip into creamy potato leek soup. There’s smoked turkey pot pie, crème fraîche mashed potatoes and prime rib served family style, all prepared on an antique cookstove from the late 1800s. The prime rib is better than Lawry’s, especially when accompanied by Bruce Anfinson’s soulful and silly ditties about everything from horses and the nostalgia of wooden skis to an ode to freshly baked bread. By the end of the evening he has us howling like coyotes in a rousing sing along.
After long hours outside exploring the wilderness, a spa day is in order. Lone Mountain Ranch doesn’t have its own spa, but there are a couple solid options in town. Santosha Wellness Center offers yoga classes and Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine body therapies, acupuncture and skin care services. Plus, they have a far-infrared sauna that’s great for pain relief, increasing circulations and detoxification. Solace Spa has an array of massages, body wraps, exfoliation and facials available too, including with CBD massage oil and hemp body wraps. Relax afterwards with hot tea and a warm neck wrap as you prepare to brave the cold once more.