Friday, February 23, 2024

48 hours in beautiful Big Sky: Exploring Montana’s Yellowstone Park | Mapped

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While the beauty of Montana has never wavered, the western US state is a trending travel destination thanks to the bountiful views and sweeping landscapes on social media (and maybe thanks to the show Yellowstone and some highly publicized celebrity homes).

Big Sky, Montana is considered one of the most beautiful states in the US. (Shutterstock)

With the breathtaking Rocky Mountains as the background, surrounded by the vast, open space of the Great Plains, the picturesque “Treasure State” is not only known for its stunning scenery but also for world-class skiing, hiking and more.

Big Sky is a premiere ski destination.

Here’s how we spent 48 hours in the gorgeous Big Sky during the peak winter months.

Where We Stayed

We checked in at the newly opened Montage Big Sky, which is the region’s first five-star property. For the skiers (amateur, pro and everything in between), this is also a ski-in, ski-out resort.

The Montage Big Sky.

Refined luxury is one way to describe this sprawling, immaculate property that combines modern, neutral decor with a cozy, western aesthetic (think David Yarrow photography).

The resort is Big Sky’s first five-star property.

The 100 standard rooms and 39 suites are all spacious with a cabin-like feeling, amplified by the gas fireplaces in the center of each room. The balconies offer staggering views of the Spanish Peaks mountain range, the perfect spot for your morning coffee. Spa-inspired bathrooms are a quintessential way to unwind after a day on the slopes, with bath salts conveniently placed near the massive Italian marble tubs.

Inside the guest rooms.

Wellness is at the core of the resort, particularly at the 10,000-foot Spa Montage that is adjacent to a relaxing indoor pool and adjacent whirlpool. Custom treatments inspired by the region are on the menu here, including high altitude acclimation massage and Montana Botanical Glow facial.

The spacious bathrooms are all outfitted with Italian marble bathtubs.

There are several dining options on-site, all with a different vibe. Italy meets Montana for a surprisingly complimentary fusion at signature restaurant Cortina, definitely the ritziest of the options adjacent to Alpenglow for cocktails.

Inside the spa adjacent pool at Montage Big Sky. The resort also has an outdoor pool and hot tubs.

For a more casual, laid-back vibe, Beartooth Pub & Rec is an excellent spot to enjoy a beer and American fare.

A cocktail from Alpenglow.

La Grande Après at Backcast rounds out the options with an elevated outdoor option which you can also conveniently arrive to via skis for a glass of bubbly, and of course, food. The Wildflower Market is also not to be missed for coffee lovers, with lavender lattes and more on the menu.

Where We Explored

Yellowstone National Park is by far and wide the number one attraction here, and the scenery is gorgeous at any time of year.

Bison seen in Yellowstone National Park. (Shutterstock)

Safety is paramount during the cooler months, however, and snow tires are definitely recommended. Gallatin Canyon is one stretch that’s open year-round for a drivable excursion, and note the West Entrance (closest to Big Sky) closes from around mid-March to mid-April.

Scenery of Yellowstone. (Shutterstock)

Big Sky Resort also has 5,850 skiable actors with 39 lifts, so there’s plenty to experience on the mountain.

Skiing is one of the main attractions of Big Sky Resort. (Shutterstock)

The area is known for some challenging runs too, including the triple black diamond Big Couloir which has a whopping 1,400-foot drop from Lone Peak — as well as plenty of runs for beginners and mid-level skiers.

Where We Shopped

The heart of Big Sky is the village, which includes a diverse mix of boutiques showcasing local artisans, artists, home decor and, of course, outdoor gear.

Big Sky Village is home to an array of shops and restaurants. (Shutterstock)

For souvenirs, including sweatshirts, specialty coffee and all the foodie goodies (think huckleberry everything), check out Steamboat Dry Goods.

Steamboat Dry Goods is a go-to gift destination.

The nearby Cave Spirits and Gifts also has plenty of giftable items, in addition to an array of locally made beers.

The Big Sky Home & Furnishings is a great spot to find a new piece for your place to add a rustic and authentic touch from Montana.

Big Sky Home Furnishings is known as a go-to spot for Montana-inspired decor and more.

Out of the village, Jill Zeidler’s Ceramic Art Studio + Shop remains a favourite. Drop by to see her mugs, bowls, vases and more in a bright and airy space.

Where We Ate

While there were plenty of dining options at our hotel, the Big Sky Village also has an array of options. The trendy Westward Social was worth a drop in for lunch, offering homey comfort food with a gourmet twist: find nachos, ribs and sliders on this menu, along with craft cocktails. The Hungry Moose Market & Deli was also a great on-the-go option.

Westward Social in Big Sky Village.

For dinner, fine-dining spot Horn & Cantle offers an authentic Montana experience that they describe as “rustic elegance.”

Horn & Cantle is secluded and surrounded by nature.

The farm-to-table concept includes dishes like Wild Game Bolognese, Elk Meatballs and Bison Shortib for a true taste of the state. Reservations are key at this one.

Horn & Cantle serves up traditional Montana fare.

Another popular day or night spot is the chill Montana Jack, known for its brioche bun craft burgers, beers and s’mores brownies.

Bozeman Highlights

An afternoon in downtown Bozeman is the cherry on top of a Big Sky getaway, particularly the quaint Main Street. The strip embodies the nostalgia of the American West with an array of shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Downtown Bozeman’s Main Street. (Shutterstock)

Drop in at Jam! or the Main Street Overeasy for a casual pancake breakfast before going for a walk around the area, including a stop in the shops and bodega inside the Main Street Market.

Inside the Main Street Market.

Wild Joe’s has a rep for the best cup of Joe around. For an IG moment, the short trek to the adorable RSVP Motel is worth it for a bite at pink-and-floral-themed The Farmer’s Daughters Cafe. Find healthy bites on the menu like overnight oats, signature salads, and smoothies.

The Farmer’s Daughter is a spot for the Instagram crowd.

What We Drove

Driving is a key part of the Montana experience, especially the 60-minute journey from Bozeman to Big Sky (trust us, other modes of transportation are bleak). You’ll need wheels to get in and around the ski resort, as well — particularly for a visit to Yellowstone National Park, which should be the top destination on your list.

The Infiniti QX60.

We drove Infiniti’s new QX60 SUV, which was luxe in every sense of the word — not to mention spacious. Beyond looking sleek inside and out (peep the camel leather interiors) and bumping BOSE sound system, the smooth drive was amplified by the vehicle’s snow mode.

The interiors of the QX60.

The feature helps curb any slipping or sliding on the ice, meaning even the inexperienced winter driver can feel safe on the roads — including the windy one leading to Big Sky and up to our hotel. For those looking to have a little more fun, the Sport mode was worth a try — but only for a confident driver behind the wheel.

For more information on Big Sky, visit Tourism Big Sky‘s website. Also be sure to visit the official site for Yellowstone National Park for road status, current conditions and more.

The author of this article was hosted by Infiniti Canada.

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