Have you ever traveled to a destination and instantly fallen in love? That’s what happened when I landed in Bozeman, Montana, and made the scenic, hour-long drive through the breathtaking Gallatin Canyon to the Spanish Peaks Mountain Club nestled in the Madison Mountain Range of southwest Montana.
Designed for year-round luxury adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts, the quaint community evokes a European ski village with timbered mountainsides and river rapids that dance between snow, catch the sun, and sparkle like diamonds.
Midway between Bozeman and West Yellowstone, Big Sky, Montana, boasts 5,850 skiable acres draped from the summit of the 11,166-foot Lone Peak at Big Sky Resort. Depending on your visit’s timing, other recreational options include fly-fishing, hiking, wildlife spotting, and biking. Spanish Peaks also offers an 18-hole Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course.
The slopes in Big Sky are about as close to the Alps as you get in the U.S. for vast terrain and off-piste skiing. Big Sky Resort is in the midst of a $150 million renovation to its lifts and infrastructure. In addition to its high elevation and high-adrenaline slopes, it offers the world’s most technologically advanced chairlifts. (The seats are heated, and each of the eight-seat cabs has a price tag that rivals a Porsche.)
If you’re looking for a true “scare yourself silly” moment, try the Dictator and Big Couloir chutes from Lone Peak. Or, if you’re not a fan of schussing down the slopes, check out the Nordic and snowshoeing trails. During a recent trip, I stopped at Moonlight Basin Club, snapped on a pair of snowshoes for the first time, and took a guided, two-mile trek around Ulery’s Lake. It was hands-down one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done.
The renovations at the resort reflect the significant economic boom happening in Big Sky. Last year, The Wilson Hotel, a Residence Inn by Marriott, became the first major brand to open in Big Sky’s town center. A $400 million ultra-luxury Montage Big Sky will open its doors for the 2021-22 ski season within Spanish Peaks, a 3,500-acre private golf and ski community. Also, an award-winning five-star hotel brand (sorry, I swore to not reveal which one) is planned at Moonlight Basin.
No trip is complete without top-notch dining, and Big Sky delivers.
If you’re looking for an elevated experience, Horn & Cantle is a must. Led by former Dallas Chef Diego Fernandes (of Flora Street Café and The French Room), the atmosphere can best be described as a sophisticated cowboy with a Western Steampunk tinge. Diego is working to bring his own spin to the menu with more outdoor cooking—think underground smoked meats—current favorites include the Emmental Swiss fondue appetizer and the buttery Tomahawk or Heluka Pork Schnitzel.
Westward Social inside Big Sky Resort’s Vista Hall delivers a more down-home feel, with winning appetizers like the super-rich cheese beignets with truffle oil or crispy hash browns with seasoned sour cream and salmon roe. For entrées, I highly recommend the grilled king salmon curry or the smoked pork shank with braised collards, crispy polenta, a sunny side egg, and warm honey.