Big Sky’s Top 10 Summer Events

IMG_2307Summertime in Big Sky is an amazing time to visit.    With 75 degree cloudless days and 40 degree nights be sure to bring a warm jacket to the Music in the Mountains Concert series every Thursday night. The sun sets at 9:30 pm so you will have plenty of daylight to fit in all your adventures.

Bands from all over the US play on our outdoor stage.  Bring your own camp chairs and enjoy the sounds of summer. There are lots of food vendors and fun activities for the kids too. Living in Big Sky for the past 9 years I have compiled a list of my “not to miss” events that happen every summer in Big Sky.

1. Music in the Mountains – Every Thursday night enjoy outdoor concerts in the park at the Big Sky Town Center Stage –  7-10 pm.

2. Big Sky’s Farmers Market – Every Wednesday night at the Big Sky Town Center- 5-8 pm.  Food vendors, baked goods, in season fruits and vegetables and many crafts.

IMG_30903. Big Sky’s PBR – July 30th – August 1st.  Watch real professional bull riders try to stay on top of bucking bulls for 8 seconds of fame. 3 days of Rodeo event including music and great food. This is a party not to miss.

4. Big Sky Fly Fishing Festival – July 24 – 26. Three days of fishing, fun, and all for a good cause–ensuring the quality of the Gallatin River! Click on this link to find all the details: Fly Fishing Festival.  Sunday – July 26 from 12-4 pm – Family friendly outdoor festival at the Town Center park in Big Sky.1147752_10201059362158471_1643425305_o

5. Every Monday from 5-8 pm – 320 Ranch Pig Roast – tons of fun and food including slow-roasted pulled pork sandwiches with a choice of two mouth-watering sides, beer on tap from a Montana Brewery and toe tapping music by a local musician on their beautiful deck. Cost is $15 per person.

6. Montana Shakespeare in the Parks – August 2nd – 5:00 pm – Location: Center stage at Town Center Park. “The Taming of the Shrew” is this years performance and its FREE and suitable for all ages. Pack a lunch, spread your blanket on the lawn and sit back and enjoy Shakespeare outside!

7. Vine and Dine Festival – August 13 | Big Sky Resort’s 2nd annual Vine and Dine Festival of wine, food and arts.

8. Big Sky Community Corporation Annual Parks and Trails Gala – August 15 at the Big Sky Community Park. This is a celebration of parks, trails, recreation and community. Unique auction items and live music. Proceeds from the evening will help fund BSCC’s recreational amenities and programs, and further our vision

3469.  Par the Peaks Golf Tournament – August 13 – Location: The Preserve at Moonlight Basin Golf Course. Contact Women in Action to participate in this amazing fundraiser benefiting local families and giving kids an opportunity to go to summer camps. www.wiabigsky.org

10.  Kids Adventure Games – August 28 & 29 – End your summer on an adventurous note with your kids! Location: Big Sky Resort. For kids ages 6-14, who will compete in teams of two in a variety of outdoor obstacles (ziplines, rafting, ropes course) and sports.

No Lift Lines

BigSky-CowboyHeaven-CabinFor years, Vail Mountain has dominated as the nation’s largest ski area, but last fall Big Sky Resort surpassed its known competitor with the addition of acreage on a series of neighboring mountains, giving Big Sky more terrain and lots of elbow
room. Operated by Michigan-based Boyne Resorts, Big Sky grew last July when it acquired a private ski area on Spirit Mountain, and expanded again in October with the purchase of Moonlight Basin ski resort.  Moonlight Basin had declared bankruptcy in 2008 and was picked up by its creditor, Lehman Brothers. Now, the ski area comprises 5,750 acres, edging out Vail at 5,289 acres. BAM!

Over the Christmas-to-New Year’s holiday week, peak season, the biggest skier day drew 7,500 people, a relatively light total. Last year the resort tallied 370,000 skiers, versus Vail, which regularly gets 1.7 million skiers per season. Spread over three mountains, Big Sky’s runs range over 4,350 vertical feet, with 40 percent rated beginner and intermediate and the rest advanced and expert.

This sets the stage for plenty of elbow room and no lift lines.  With an annual snowfall of 400 inches you can usually find a powder stash to take advantage of on many of the 300 named runs.

I love to ski Big Sky and I am spoiled by the beauty and magnitude of this mountain.  A five-minute line is a wait for anyone who knows Big Sky. A destination resort, Big Sky is not based in a bustling ski town offering a range of entertainment options. The television newscaster and Montana native Chet Huntley, who died just days before the slopes officially opened, conceptualized the resort, about 44 miles south of Bozeman, in the late 1960’s. The first lifts opened in 1973. Tucked under the 11,166-foot-elevation Lone Peak, is the modest mountain village and a collection of two midsize hotels, a few chalet-inspired condo buildings and a smattering of A-frame cabins. A base camp center where activities like tubing, zip-lining and snowshoeing are offered. There is an array of bars and restaurants in the Mountain Village. In the Moonlight area  there is  a full-service lodge and a small Madison base village area with a restaurant and bar. Both of which are easy to ski to by day, but hard to reach without a car at night. The lifts close at 4 pm.

Depending on your point of view, Big Sky’s remote location is a detriment or a gift. You can expect to pay more to fly to the smaller Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport than a major hub like Denver. But the wilderness location offers one more agreeable twist: proximity to Yellowstone National Park, 45 miles south. Outfitters will shuttle Big Sky guests to West Yellowstone and back for park tours by snow coach or snowmobile and that offer opportunities to spot bison, elk, wolf and coyote and to cross-country ski around geysers where steam clouds are magnified by the freezing temperatures. The park, too, gets few visitors in winter; of over three million annual tourists, about 3 percent come in winter.

When they say Big Sky boasts about two acres per skier you can be sure you will leave the crowds behind, relax and discover lapping ski runs!

White Water Rafting Trip

The Gallatin River is approximately 120 miles long and runs through Wyoming and Montana. It rises in the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park and flows northwest through the Gallatin National Forest, past Big Sky and joins the Jefferson and Madison about 30 miles northwest of Bozeman, MT.  This river was named in July 1805 by Meriwether Lewis of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never been rafting in Big Sky on the Gallatin River and I live 2 miles from this tributary of the Missouri River.

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2 Forward!

My husband and I finally decided it was time to go rafting. We played hooky from work and met at Geyser White Water Rafting Expeditions.   As soon as we walked in we were greeted by a friendly face and instructed to sign some forms. We were then informed the water was a balmy 40 degrees farhenheit  It was advised we would want to wear a wet suit and then we were guided to the gear room to get suited up for our float. This is a room filled with wet suits and rafting gear. I can’t say the smell was good but I can’t say it was bad either. Kind of a cross between wet dog and neoprene.  After squirming and wriggling into our wet suits we were fitted with a helmet, a paddle and a life vest. We were ready to embark on our float down the mighty Gallatin!

The water levels weren’t as low as they normally are in July due to the large amount of snow we had received this past winter. (500 inches!)  The CFS (cubic feet per second of water flow) was at 1350 that day.  Which to the seasoned rafter is anywhere from a class III  to IV rafting experience.  This past June the rapids were classified at a VI and no commercial trips were allowed. In other words it was pretty dangerous.  For my first trip class IV rapids were perfect for me.

We boarded the bus and were driven upstream about 15 minutes from Geyser Whitewater’s base camp.  I was feeling pretty nervous not knowing what to expect and hoping I didn’t fall off the raft. We had opted for the half day lower white water river trip. This trip has the best rapids and the infamous Mad Mile. There is literally about 1.5 miles that you float and it is continual rapids. (so fun but I will get to that). We listened to Pat (chief guide and bad joke teller) explain CFS water flow and how to hold our paddles.  When we arrived at the drop point we listened to more serious talk from Pat explaining what to do if you do fall off the raft and how to pull someone back in the boat quickly. I was starting to get a little nervous. My husband and I have canoed most of our lives but never rafted. We understand how paddling works but normally we do that on a lazy river as I have a cocktail and read my book. There were no cocktails on this trip and I had to leave the book behind.

 

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Gallatin River

We were then placed in groups and appointed our guide, Travis. There were 6 of us in the raft plus Travis.  He introduced himself and then asked who would like to sit in the front? My husband nudged me and I had a moment of self talk in my mind and then blurted out “Yes, we’ll do it!”.  What did I do?  Travis then explained this was an important position in the boat and you had to paddle at the same time whenever the guide asked you to.  Gulp well it was now or never we were doing this!  We were the first to climb into the raft and I was surprised how sturdy and strong the raft felt. I was also surprised that you don’t sit down inside the raft. You sit on the outer edge. There are foot holds on the floor of the raft to tuck your toes into so that you don’t fall out.  That was reassuring.

Travis pushed us out onto the river after we were all situated in the raft. He practiced a few basic commands with us.  “2 forward!” he yelled. We did as we were told. “2 backward!” Again we paddled like we meant it, obediently in sync.  We were synchronized paddlers and dam proud of ourselves.

The first rapids we came to I braced my feet in the footholds and didn’t want to wimp out and grab the handle holds. Plus you cannot let go of the end of your paddle for fear it will hit your co-paddler. I rode the first set of rapids like the newbie I was! Squealing in delight and whooping and hollering it was so fun. It was very exhilarating pushing through the waves and refreshing as the water splashed over me! Travis expertly guided our raft and kept us away from the many large boulders on the Gallatin.   The final stretch, appropriately named the “Mad Mile” was fast approaching. I had heard about this for years as being one of the toughest stretches of the river.  I was glad that the water was classified as IV but there were still some waves reaching 4 feet.   We sailed through the Mad Mile, past the infamous House Rock and floated successfully the rest of the mile.   We really enjoyed ourselves and Geyser is truly a first class rafting company I would highly recommend.  We also got some great photos taken by Crystal Images. They appear at different spots on the river capturing all the highlights of your trip.

Happy Trails!

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The infamous House Rock

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Wahoo!

PBR in Big Sky, Montana

IMG_3061I was able to get my hands on the much coveted tickets to the Professional Bull Riders Rodeo (PBR) in Big Sky last night. It was an amazing experience.  From the crazy bull riders to the insane rodeo clowns it was an exciting night I won’t forget. Some of the top bull riders in the country were right here in Big Sky on Wednesday and Thursday.  Big Sky got voted one of the bull riders favorite places to compete. Who can blame them with an outdoor arena surrounded by mountains  as their venue.

The rodeo clowns, also known as bullfighters or rodeo protection athletes are extremely brave and know how to work a ticked off bull. They put themselves in extreme danger every time a bull is released into the arena. They protect the bull rider by distracting the bull and providing an alternative target for the bull to attack.  It was pretty heart stopping watching them protect the riders when they got bucked off.

After the rodeo there was a local favorite Bozeman band that played called Pinky and the Floyd.  Dancing and schmoozing with the cowboys was a great end to the evening. The PBR Rodeo has to be one of my favorite events I have attended in Big Sky so far this summer. Check out some of my pics I captured below.

Happy Trails!

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5 Tips for a Family Summer Road Trip

What is Summer without a Road Trip?

Making memories

Making memories

I know, I know: Few trips sound less relaxing than packing your kids into the car for a long drive. But the family road trip has one major benefit that many other trips can’t match: You can set your own schedule and change your plans whenever you want. You have no plane tickets to rebook. It’s the ultimate in planning flexibility, plus, if you have older teens, you can share driving duties with them (assuming, of course, you find it relaxing to have your teen at the wheel!)

Whether you are traveling for 2 hours or 2 days you need to be prepared.  Today, cars and SUV’s are equipped for handheld electronics and DVD players.  When I was a kid my 3 brothers and I just worked on punching each other in the back seat of the station wagon and making my Dad angry.   Then we would invariably push the sibling not involved in our antics forward so my Dad’s flailing arm could make contact with that said child.  Remember we didn’t wear seat belts and spanking was an approved method of child rearing.   Those were the days!

Now that I am a Mother I have some great tips to offer you.  I have made a few road trips with my husband and  3 children around the United States and no spanking is required!

1. Keep the kids entertained.  Handheld electronics are a major component for a few hours of peacefulness. Ipads, smart phones and DVD players are key factors.  I always buy a new movie or two so that it’s a surprise for them.  Also a new coloring book or toy works quite well too.  We also like to play the game 20 questions or finding license plates for every state in the US.

2. Pack Lightly.  Take only what you will need for your trip. Don’t over pack clothes and gear.   Most hotels or rental companies offer pack and plays or cribs to borrow.  Take advantage of this.

3. Snacks. Make sure you pack easy to eat car snacks.  Pack up a collapsible cooler with drinks, and  food that is easy to eat and not messy.  Keep the cooler somewhere easily accessible so you don’t have to stop the car. Preparing sandwiches ahead of time saves money and time.  Make sure to provide wet wipes and paper towels for easy clean up.

Another great family hike during our road trip.

Another great family hike during our road trip.

4. Leave the dog at the Kennel.   You may feel guilty for not taking Fido but the truth is the less stress you have the more relaxed your vacation will be. The dog is one less worry and you know it’s too hot to leave him in the car when you make that pit stop for lunch or shopping.  If you travel to Yellowstone National Park pets are prohibited in the back country and on trails and boardwalks.  

5.  Take photos and videos. You are making memories and it is so fun to look back when the kids are older.  Enjoy all the moments of your road trip. Even the bad ones can be recounted later and laughed about.   When I was 7 years old my family was driving thru the Teton mountains when the muffler on our car became detached and bounced down the mountainside.  Between the fumes, the loud sound of a car without a muffler and the twisty mountain roads all 4 of my siblings and I succumbed to sickness. My parents had 4 barfing kids pulled over on the side of a mountain but we still bring it up 40 years later and it never fails to make us laugh. My parents survived and you will too.

Happy Trails!

 

Matthew

Final destination – enjoying the journey

Big Sky Photo Blog

Instead of using words in this blog post I thought I would show you some of the best of Big Sky in Summer thru photographs.

 

 

ENJOY..

 

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Beehive Basin Trail

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Moonlight Basin Views

 

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Beehive Basin Trail

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Blue Ribbon Trout Fishing

 

 

 

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Yellowstone National Park

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More trophy trout fishing

Huge Bull Elk in a Scenic Backdrop

Yellowstone National Park Elk

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Windy Pass Trail

Big Sky Closing Weekend

Closing weekend in Big Sky is a thrilling time to wrap up the winter ski season. DSC_0154DSC_0134DSC_0118 Pond Skim is an event not to be missed. The weather usually cooperates with temps in the 50’s and spring skiing conditions.  It’s a bittersweet end to the ski season.  Closing day events however can get pretty wacky.

IMG_2059My family and I routinely attend Pond Skim every year.  Sun, skiing, beer and people flying across open water scantily clad; what’s not to like?  Big Sky delivered on Saturday with record crowds arriving to watch the shenanigans.  Over 100 deranged skiers signed up and paid money to ski across open water hoping to make it across without getting wet in the icy cold ponds.  Many wore costumes or less and it was a blast to watch.  Check out the fun pics and don’t miss it next year.

Cheers!

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