Big Sky Resort rents mountain bikes and offers bike rental/lift ticket combos. Call tel. 406/995-5840 for details.
Big Sky Resort offers some groomed trails for cross-country skiing. But for the real deal, go to Lone Mountain Ranch (P.O. Box 160069, Big Sky, MT 59716; tel. 800/514-4644 or 406/995-4644; www.lmranch.com), which has 50 miles of cross-country trails over terrain that will challenge every level of skier. Near the ranch headquarters, in the meadows, lies some flat terrain that beginners might appreciate. There's also a steeper portion to practice your Telemark technique, and 12 miles of snowshoe trails. Intermediate trails with more hills make up about 60% of the area, and expert trails provide plenty of challenging downhill runs. Ski and snowshoe rentals are also available. Full-day trail passes cost $20 for adults, $15 for seniors 60 to 69, and free for kids 12 and under and seniors 70 and over. The entrance to Lone Mountain Ranch is off Lone Mountain Trail (the main road to the Big Sky Resort), about 4 miles west of its intersection with U.S. 191 and 2 miles east of the Meadow Village.
In 2005, Big Sky and Moonlight Basin connected their trail systems, making for a combined 5,512 acres of terrain -- the largest ski area in the country. Skiers and snowboarders can buy the "Biggest Skiing in America" ticket for a day of unlimited access to both resorts' runs for $94 adults, $84 seniors 70 and over and college students, and $74 for juniors 11 to 17 (free for kids 10 and under).
According to an Indian legend, folks who drink the water of the Gallatin River will return to the valley before they die, but of course you should no longer drink untreated water out of even high mountain streams, because of the possibility of giardia, an intestinal microbe that you don't want traveling back home with you. We're not sure if eating the fish that live in the water counts toward the legend, but it's worth a try. Several guides offer trips for prices ranging from about $250 to $300 for a half-day for two to $350 to $500 for a full day. For details contact Lone Mountain Ranch (tel. 406/995-4644), Gallatin Riverguides (tel. 406/995-2290; www.montanaflyfishing.com), or East Slope Anglers (tel. 406/995-4369; www.eastslopeoutdoors.com).
Big Sky Golf Course, Meadow Village (tel. 406/995-5780), is a striking Arnold Palmer design that is fairly short, fairly open, and harder than it looks on the card. A few of the holes wander next to the West Fork of the Gallatin River, which runs through the property. Cost, which includes the cart fee, is $36 to $65 for 18 holes, $30 to $45 for 9. Tee times can be reserved up to a week in advance.
As you might expect in an area surrounded by three mountain ranges and two national forests, there is an abundance of hiking opportunities not far from Big Sky. An easy, 4-mile hike to Porcupine Creek is accessible nearby. Go south 2 3/4 miles on U.S. 191 from the intersection with the mountain village road. Turn left at the sign that announces Porcupine Creek, and go about a half-mile to the trail head. The first mile of the hike wanders along Porcupine Creek, and then offers a choice of either a north or a south fork. The left (north) fork goes up into the foothills, offering a view of the creek below.
If you want more of a workout, try the Lava Lake trail, which begins about 13 miles north of the intersection of the mountain village road and U.S. 191 on the highway. Take the Lava Lake turn. The trail climbs steeply, without much relief, for 3 miles to an alpine lake in the shelter of three mountains.
Yellowstone National Park is only about 40 miles south of Big Sky, and you can hike there for a lifetime.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.