[flickr photo=3067689749 size=small align=right vspace=10 hspace=10] Visited February 2008
A friend of ours generously let us stay in his amazing slope side holiday mountain house. It is situated right on the slopes of the ski resort of Moonlight basin [WikiPedia] [Trail Map]. This ski resort is connected to the larger Big Sky ski resort [Wikipedia][Trail Map]. Both are situated around Lone Mountain peak, it has some serious and spectacular off piste skiing as well as great groomers. Moonlight basin/ Big sky is about an hour drive from the airport of Bozeman.The area around Big Sky is very lightly populated by my standards, so it doesn’t get crowded at any time. While we stayed there we had VERY good snow conditions with fresh snow almost every night. Moonlight basin is on the North side of the Lone peak mountain so its colder but will carry snow longer.
[flickr photo=3068149640 size=medium align=justify]
[flickr photo=3067311121 size=small align=left vspace=10 hspace=10]
Take the Lone peak tram for some serious skiing from the Big Sky side, high alpine experience is a must, and a skiing partner and beepers are needed for ski patrol to let you down. Luckily there is tons of other groom and ungroomed runs. My favorites on the Big Sky side are: groomed “Calamity Jane”, not groomed “The Bowl (lower part)” (see the picture on the left) off the “Lone peak triple”. The last one is easy accessible powder terrain to get started in relative safety with off-piste skiing. On the Moonlight basin side: Many runs fed from the “Six shooter” quad speed chair lift and the slower “Lone tree”chair lift are nice to ski and not too difficult and fresh powder can be found because its usually so quiet.
It is possible to buy a lift ticket that spans both Big Sky and Moonlight Basin and it is called “The Lone Peak Pass“. Separate Big sky tickets can be bought here. Its rated as the largest ski resort in the USA. Lift lines are virtually non-existent, the runs are awesom, and very diverse, lots of easy wide terrain but also tons of steep ” super expert only” deep powder runs. Moonlight basin and Big sky are very quiet towns, and it all feels (and it) far away from the hectic day to day city life.
A hot tip for fine dining in the area is the Rainbow ranch restaurant incredible food, great wines, and a reservation is needed.
Yellow stone park
Since we had flown around half the planet to get there we thought we’d also take a day and go to the famous and oldest national park from the US Yellow stone park [US gov]. About a 2,5 hour drive from Big Sky is one of the park entrances. We decided to go for a day of guided snowmobiling. We had never been on a snowmobile so that in itself was great fun already. We the rented gear on and the warmed seat of the snowmobile it was actually pretty comfortable. We had day reasonable weather with some snow, a bit of cold and sunshine in the afternoon for some great pictures. We met a large number off buffalo up close and personal, and they weren’t the slightest bit impressed by our presence, it is clearly their house and they more or less tolerate us. Visited the Old Faithfull geyser. Saw the endangered bald eagle. Saw all the geological wonders of the volcanoes and hot springs. Some the hot lakes and rivers are deadly toxic so nothing to swim in. Took in the sheer vastness of the place. All in all a trip well worth and an amazing day.