Is Big Sky Good for Beginners? | What to Know Before Skiing in Big Sky, Montana

When it comes to ski resorts in America, Big Sky, Montana doesn’t get enough credit – at least not when it comes to beginner ski runs. It is true, the ski resort has somewhat of a reputation for being a challenging and intimidating mountain.

Big Sky is not only one of the best ski resorts in Montana, it boasts some of the best skiing in the United States. But that does NOT mean Big Sky Montana is for advanced-skiers only.

Big Sky is a family-friendly ski mountain that offers a variety of terrain for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. It is such a huge mountain that both expert skiers and novices will have a blast. 

If you are wondering ‘Is Big Sky good for beginners?’, you’ve come to the right place. We ski in Big Sky frequently and think Big Sky is one of the best resorts for beginner skiers – at least in the Rocky Mountains and western United States.

looking out at Big-Sky-Montana from the top of Lone Peak
Big Sky is a massive resort and has lots of terrain for advanced and intermediate skiers. There are also plenty of runs at Big Sky for beginners.

About Big Sky Mountain Resort

Although Big Sky is great for beginners, there is plenty to do for even the expert skier or snowboarder.

From steep shoots to gentle rolling green runs at Big Sky, the mountain boasts 300 named runs and 5,850 acres of skiable terrain.

It’s one of the larger ski resorts in the United States and one of the highest. 

From the top of Lone Peak, you can ski a whopping 4,350 vertical feet, the second longest vertical drop in the United States.

With four connected mountains, 7 terrain parks, and 36 lifts you could ski at Big Sky for days without skiing the same run twice.

LOOKING FOR OTHER FAMILY-FRIENDLY MOUNTAINS? CHECK OUT OUR POST ON THE BEST COLORADO SKI RESORTS FOR BEGINNERS.

How to Get to Big Sky

Big Sky is located approximately 90 minutes outside of Bozeman, Montana, a cute, small town in itself that deserves more visitors. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is the closest airport for out-of-state visitors arriving by air. 

From the airport, you’ll either need to rent a car or take a shuttle to the mountain. We’ve done both but prefer renting a car because it opens up more restaurant options and is ultimately more convenient.

ALSO READ: HOW TO FLY WITH SKIS

Weather in Big Sky, Montana

Winters in Big Sky, Montana are cold… really cold.

This is one of the only mountains where I have skied that I needed hand warmers just to make it through the day. If you are a beginner skiing at Big Sky Mountain Resort, you will want to invest in hand warmers, a neck gaiter, and wear the appropriate ski gear and apparel to stay warm.

If you aren’t dressed appropriately, you will be miserable on the mountain. 

Big Sky receives an impressive amount of snow each season. On average, Big Sky receives 400 inches of snow each year!

Is Big Sky Good for Beginners? 5 Reasons It isn’t Just ‘Good’, It’s Great! 

If you’re considering Big Sky for a family ski trip, and you’re wondering if Big Sky Resort is good for beginners in your family, here are our top reasons why we recommend this mountain, despite its challenging reputation.

Reason #1 Big Sky is Great for Beginners: It’s Less Crowded 

A wide open ski run at Big Sky for beginners
Wide open runs like this is just one of the reasons Big Sky is great for beginners.

Big Sky Mountain Resort is somewhat isolated, which is one reason I think it is one of the best resorts for beginner skiers.

Unlike many of the ski resorts in Colorado or Utah, it isn’t within close driving distance to a large city. Because of that, the mountain never feels crowded.

Even on holidays, weekends, and the week after Christmas when ski resorts seem to be most packed with people, lift lines at Big Sky are extremely manageable.

You’ll also find a large number of wide ski runs in Big Sky, Montana so even at its most crowded, beginner skiers will have plenty of room to make wide turns and take their time getting down the mountain without fear of a collision with other skiers.

Reason #2 Big Sky is Great for Beginners: Variety in Green Runs

a young girl skiing at Big Sky as a beginner
Approximately 15-17 percent of the runs at Big Sky are suitable for beginners.

Don’t let the stats scare you. Big Sky is big. The numbers prove it. But despite the intimidating vertical, this mountain is for more than just those that want to do crazy GoPro videos.

This mountain is perfect for those that are strapping on skis for the first time. When it comes to beginner mountains, Big Sky provides the ideal terrain.

Why? Because you’re not stuck to an isolated part of the mountain. This mountain is huge and the beginner terrain will feel just as big. 

About 15-17% of the mountain is considered beginner terrain, but when you take into account the number of runs at Big Sky, you’ll still have more than 50 runs that are suitable for beginners.  The percentage of green runs at Big Sky tops many other ski mountains in America.

Chances are, you’ll start at the base of Big Sky where you can find many beginner runs.

Big Sky family-friendly ski mountain in US

For young children who are learning to ski or those who aren’t ready to get on a lift yet, Big Sky has a long, covered magic carpet, or conveyor belt to take you up the slightest incline at the base.

Our daughter, at the age of 3, rode this conveyor belt and skied between our legs down this small incline, and loved every minute of it.

TEACHING A TODDLER OR YOUNG CHILD TO SKI? CHECK OUT THESE TIPS TO MAKE THE PROCESS EASIER.

Reason #3 Big Sky is Great for Beginners: It has a Great Ski School for Beginners 

Big Sky with kids -ski school and kids ski free

Big Sky’s ski school is great for kids and adults alike. One of the nice features available to those with young children who aren’t quite ready for all-day ski school is the ability to do an hour-long private session during the day.

The instructor will pick them up from the childcare room, get them suited up in their ski clothes and take them out for an hour while you ski.

There is a fenced off area at Big Sky for beginners in ski school who need some practice before joining the rest of the skiing public on the mountain.

If your child is in ski school for multiple days, they will ski with other kids at their same level, and likely move up in levels as the days go by and new skills are acquired.

Reason #4 Big Sky is Great for Beginners: It’s More Affordable 

OK – we acknowledge skiing is an expensive sport. 

But another thing that makes Big Sky a family-friendly ski resort is that kids ages six and under always ski free with parents or adult guardians – which takes some of the expense off parents when they are skiing at Big Sky with beginners.

Kids 12 and under also ski free if taking lessons in ski school. 

So, while skiing is an expensive sport, this is a HUGE cost savings for families, especially if you have multiple children under 6 years old learning to ski.

You’ll also find lodging at the Big Sky Mountain Resort base area to be relatively affordable compared to other major ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains.

Navigating Big Sky if you’re a beginner skier, intermediate, or advanced

Big Sky offers so much variety and is the perfect mountain to try out a more challenging run to test your skills, thanks in large part to how many wide runs there are at the mountain resort.

Where to ski at Big Sky for beginners

If you are looking for the best runs at Big Sky for beginners, start your day at the mountain village base practicing your turns alongside the covered magic carpet.

Once you feel more confident take the covered magic carpet up and then take the following magic carpet up to see how you handle a slightly steeper pitch. 

a mother skiing with a toddler in Big Sky
Skiing at the base of Big Sky with our beginner skier.

If you handle this with ease, it’s time to head to the Explorer lift. 

This chair lift will be your ideal spot as it services mainly beginner terrain. There are greens that are accessible from the high speed Swift Current lift, as well, but start on Explorer and then move to Swift Current and try out Mr. K and Lower Morning Star. 

The Swift Current lift is also what you will need to take to head over to the Moonlight side of Big Sky Resort. 

Accessing the Moonlight terrain can take awhile as the trail is long, but it is well worth it. However, doing so requires taking a blue run – Brit Road – that dumps down into a green, so only make your way to that side if your beginner skier is ready for a new challenge and wants to try a blue. 

This was the first blue our daughter skied when she was learning to ski. 

The Derringer Quad lift over on the Moonlight side will change up the scenery and keep beginner skiers from getting bored with the same terrain.

Where to ski at Big Sky if you are an intermediate skier

Off the top of Swift Current and Southern Comfort you’ll find a variety of blue runs to try after mastering the greens.

If you or your beginner skier at Big Sky learns quickly and is ready to take on some more blue runs, you can find several long, gentle blues off of the Southern Comfort Lift.

You’ll have to take the Ramcharger High Speed lift to the top to access these long blues, like Ponderosa and El Dorado. There are also a few green runs like Deep South and Sacajawea, which also dump down into the Southern Comfort Lift.

To get back to the base after playing around on this side of the mountain, you can either take a long, narrow traverse called Pacifier or try a double blue like Africa or Ambush.

You’ll also find some nice blue runs off the top of Swift Current.

My personal favorite blue run at Big Sky is located on the Moonlight Side. Horseshoe is a really long, blue run where you can really work on gaining your confidence with speed. 

Where to ski at Big Sky if you are an advanced skier

Big Sky Mountain Resort for advanced skiers
Advanced skiers can find great tree skiing off Shedhorn Lift.

Looking for advanced runs at Big Sky is like walking into a grocery store and looking for food. You’ll see a lot of options, but which ones should you try first? Do you like trees or do you like steeps?

If you’re craving steep runs then everybody will tell you to take The Lone Peak Tram. And they’re right. The peak stands out, and you can see the lines you want to take while standing at the base.

But, if tree skiing is your thing then avoid the peak and go skier right. You’ll need to take The Swift Current lift from the base and then navigate your way toward The Shedhorn lift.

Like Swift Current, this lift is another one of Big Sky’s high speed lifts. 

From there, the possibilities are endless. You have bowl skiing and glade skiing. There are no greens on this side of the mountain so you can count on the crowds thinning out fast.

Once at the top of Shedhorn, you can find some great tree skiing in the area or even ski down toward The Dakota lift.

What is great about this side of the mountain is that you very well could be the only skier. Lift lines are a rarity, even in the high season, and fresh tracks are easy to find even in the afternoon.

NOT SURE ABOUT THE COLOR CODING SYSTEM AT SKI RESORTS OR SOME OF THE OTHER SKI EXPRESSIONS? CHECK OUT OUR SKI LINGO GUIDE.

Child care in Big Sky, Montana

Big Sky Montana with kids child care
The child care room for babies and toddlers at Big Sky.

As a parent and an avid skier, we return to Big Sky every year. When our daughter was too young for ski school, we utilized the child care at the base of the mountain resort.

Child care is essential if taking a ski trip with a baby or toddler.

The child care facilities at Big Sky are conveniently located in one of the closest buildings to the lifts, directly at the base. The daycare room is clean and well-stocked with toys and activities to keep little kids entertained while their parents enjoy a day on the mountain.

Big Sky Mountain Resort base area

Big Sky base area - best resort for beginner skiers
The Base Area at Big Sky Resort.

The base area at Big Sky Mountain Resort is less developed than what you will find at many of the other ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains.

Nevertheless, you will find a variety of hotels and lodges, family-friendly restaurants, shops, and après ski activities.

Montana Jacks is our go-to restaurant for burgers and beers after a fun day of skiing. It is lively and loud enough that a toddler doesn’t bother other guests dining there.

For lodging, both the Summit at Big Sky and The Huntley are great options for families. Both hotels are practically ski-in/ski out and underwent renovations in recent years. Another option, if you don’t mind a brief shuttle ride or 10 minute walk, The Lodge at Big Sky is one of our go-to hotels.

Aside from skiing, there are a lot of other winter activities in Big Sky, Montana. Dog sledding, ziplining, sleigh rides, and snowshoeing are just a few things to do in Big Sky in winter other than skiing.

Aside from skiing, there are a lot of other winter activities in Big Sky, Montana. Dog sledding, ziplining, sleigh rides, and snowshoeing are just a few things to do in Big Sky in winter other than skiing.

CHECK OUT ALL LODGING OPTIONS, FIND THE BEST PRICE, AND BOOK A HOTEL ROOM IN BIG SKY HERE.

Conclusion: Is Big Sky Good for Beginners? 

Big Sky is our favorite ski resort for a family ski trip. The resort appeals to every type of skier. We’ve taken multi-generational vacations to Big Sky and have skied with family members who are at all ability levels. There are so many ski runs of varying difficulty at Big Sky that we never get bored and all of us feel challenged.

That unique quality not only makes Big Sky the best resort for beginner skiers, it makes it a great resort for all skiers – regardless of skill level. In fact, we consider skiing at Big Sky one of the absolute best things to do in Montana.

LOOKING FOR OTHER GREAT FAMILY FRIENDLY SKI RESORTS? CHECK OUT STEAMBOAT, ASPEN-SNOWMASS, AND JACKSON HOLE.

Do you have any other questions about skiing at Big Sky for beginners? We’d love to hear from you! Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.

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This guide to Big Sky for beginners was first written in October 2018, and was updated in October 2023 for accuracy and current information about the mountain resort and its offerings.

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