Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Ski Series Part 2 (Big Sky Montana)

Though Sun Valley was (to me, at least) an obvious choice for my first big ski trip out west in nearly a decade, when it came time to plan another ski vacation it was a bit more difficult to choose a destination. In the end, though, Big Sky Montana won out.

I mean, do you have to ask why? ;)

We almost always try to plan our vacations during 'down times', so when we chose early February for our Big Sky trip we didn't really expect much to be going on. But as it turned out, we booked during their Big Sky Blue Grass Festival - which meant that there were some really neat things going on while we were there. For instance, the Big Sky Annual Dummy Jump...

...and of course, plenty of blue grass music. The only concert we were able to attend was the benefit one featuring the Special C's, but it was amazing. Especially as the $25-ish per person tickets included heavy hors d'oeuvres and drinks (mainly wine).

There are other activities available at Big Sky as well, of course - ones that happen throughout the season, such as sleigh rides and snowmobiling, snowshoeing and tubing. There are also a couple of fire pits, and when we were there they were pretty much the place to hang out later in the evening ;) Otherwise, the only one we had time to check out - outside of the special events that were happening - was the rescue dog demonstration. This happens every week and it was definitely a neat thing to do for a little while one evening :)

Now, the reason we didn't have very much time to enjoy other activities is because we were doing a ton of skiing, of course! It snowed a lot during the time we were there, which meant nearly constant fresh powder (though it also meant poor visibility, blah). While I personally wasn't brave enough to go up to the top of Lone Peak, I enjoyed some great skiing on the lower front of the mountain and in the Southern Comfort area as well.

In terms of trail difficulty, it was interesting that I'd been told that Sun Valley has one of the higher rating systems out west - as in, their trails are harder than those at other resorts that are rated the same - but to me, Big Sky was at least even with Sun Valley's ratings. Perhaps their trails were even more difficult.

One thing I do want to note - it was awesome that they had photographers set up on many of the slopes. The only unfortunate thing about this was that their prices were over-the-top insane, at least for my budget - but it was still cool that if you wanted a picture of yourself skiing, you just had to look at the schedule and be on any number of trails during a couple-hour-long-stretch to get some awesome professional photos taken.

The one 'problem' with our trip to Big Sky is that we skied all day, and by the time we wanted food in the evenings it had usually been snowing for hours and we didn't feel like driving. So while we had a couple of decent meals, it was nothing like the way we gorged ourselves on awesome food in Idaho. Fondue Stube in the lodge was pretty decent, and our included breakfasts were pretty good as well (though BOO to the fact that they only offered the waffle bar one morning the entire time we were there!). There was also a 'burrito shack' at the top of the Swift Current Quad, and though it kept short/weird hours, it was good for a quick snack or lunch while skiing, for sure.

All in all, while I have one more big ski trip to review I will say that Big Sky was really the best at a few things. First, if you like bluegrass, going for Big Grass is certainly a must. And if you can get a clear day (or more), the views here are incomparable. If you're an advanced skier, I also suggest Big Sky because I certainly haven't experienced skiing like this anywhere else. And like Sun Valley, it doesn't have that "in your face" Big Ski Resort feel. People here are friendly - employees and skiers - and that always helps the enjoyment of any vacation. (At least in my opinion.)

And that leads me to a rating. The thing is, while I generally had a great time, in the end I didn't enjoy Big Sky quite as much as I enjoyed Sun Valley. But really, they had different downsides, and they're completely different mountains/areas/etc. So I'll go with a 3.75/5 and say that maybe someday if I have the guts for some ski lessons/to get over the really horrible fall I took 10 years ago, I'll go back and try this resort again. Pin It

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