Photo Credit: Troy Smith

For most of its history, Big Sky, Montana was largely overlooked by travelers and tourists. As scenic as the area has always been, it was primarily used for ranching since being settled during the mid 1800s. It was only in the early 1970s – when a few of the largest ranches in the area were sold to developers – that Big Sky really got on the map. At first, the land was developed to lure in golfers, but people quickly realized that Big Sky would be a prime skiing area. Soon enough, a ski resort by the same name was developed and Big Sky began drawing in unprecedented numbers of people. Still, with a low number of hotels and other accommodations, much of Big Sky remains surprisingly quiet and wonderfully untouched.

Sightseeing and Attractions: Big Sky’s Best Kept Secrets

As is to be expected, most people think of skiing when the name Big Sky comes up. Still, there is a lot more to see and do in this gorgeous area than hitting the slopes. Consider a few of these exciting opportunities:

The Lewis and Clark Caverns

The 2.5 hour drive is well worth in order to explore these amazing, subterranean caverns. The Lewis and Clark Caverns are a great day trip to take when staying in or near Big Sky. Hundreds of amazing formations and underground waterfalls make this an unforgettable spot, and everyone will be glad that they made the journey.

Go Horseback Riding

Big Sky has been a ranching area since its infancy, and there’s no better way to explore the region than by horseback. There are several places that offer backcountry horseback riding tours, so track one down and hop right on. Compared with skiing and hiking, the view from the back of a horse just can’t be beat; you’ll easily see why so many people have fallen in love with this topography through the years.

Go Cross Country Skiing

Downhill skiing seems to get most of the attention in the Big Sky area, but there are phenomenal cross country skiing opportunities to enjoy as well. The Lone Mountain Ranch offers some really picturesque cross country skiing trails, and there are plenty of on-site amenities there as well. While you’re at it, try out a sleighride dinner - something that you just don’t see every day!

Visit Ousel Falls

If you’re visiting Big Sky during the winter, make sure that you set aside some time to visit nearby Ousel Falls. These 30-foot-high falls freeze almost completely in the dead of winter, yet you can still hear the sound of the gushing water below the thick, icy exterior. It’s an otherworldly feel and is something that you’re going to remember for a long, long time.

Best Kept Secrets For Families & Couples

Assuming that the adults and children on board a Big Sky vacation enjoy the outdoors, there is always plenty to do. Whether you’re traveling as a couple or with children, you’ll find plenty of neat ways to enjoy your time in Big Sky, including:

Historic Crail Ranch

Couples who want to learn a bit more about the history and culture of the Big Sky region should hightail it over to the Crail Ranch. This ranch was one of the original spreads in this part of the country and was founded during the late 1800s. Today, it has been lovingly restored and features plenty of the implements and things that the Crail family once used.

Indulge Yourself At A Spa

Although they get largely overlooked by people who are eager to hit the slopes, there are a handful of really topnotch spas in Big Sky. Whether you’re sore from all of the skiing – or if you’re just in the mood for a bit of pampering – a visit to the spa is a nice way for couples to unwind when in Big Sky.

Skiing At Moonlight Basin

As one of the smaller ski resorts, Moonlight Basin is an excellent place for beginners and children to learn the sport. Compact and friendly, it is the perfect choice for families who want to stick together.

Eating - Sample the Local Cuisine

If there’s one unique food that Montana is known for, it’s buffalo burgers. When you’re visiting Big Sky, you should make a point of sampling one of these local delicacies. Buffalo meat is incredibly lean and tender, and the burgers can be made with all of your favorite fixings. It’s a really interesting way to get a feel for what the locals enjoy eating.

When To Go & How to Get There

No major airport serves Big Sky, and your closest option is the airport in Bozeman. Driving over from Bozeman isn’t a long journey, though, and you’ll find it to be a convenient trip. If you’re arriving by car, you’ll more than likely arrive by traveling along the Gallatin River. Along the way, you’ll get to see many breathtaking sights and views, so pay attention!

Since skiing, ice skating and snowmobiling are such popular reasons to visit Big Sky, winter is a prime time of year to plan a visit here. Huge quantities of snow can fall, though, so make sure that you are adequately prepared. Spring and summer are truly lovely in Big Sky, and allow you the opportunity to see a whole other side of the region; they are also very quiet times of year in terms of tourists.