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  • Writer's picturePatrick Millard

Wild, Wild, West: The Montage Big Sky & Yellowstone National Park


I had a pleasure of staying at The Montage Big Sky during a recent ski trip in January. As a part of this trip, I went skiing, enjoyed various restaurants both on property and off-property, enjoyed a fantastic 60-minute massage in their Montage Spa, and last but certainly not least, I did a day trip to Yellowstone, where two friends and I enjoyed a full day snowmobile experience through Yellowstone National Park.

 

If you are not familiar with Big Sky, the closest airport is Bozeman International Airport and it’s about 65 minutes to The Montage. I decided to rent a car for my trip because I knew we were going to Yellowstone one day for a snowmobile experience and I found this to be the best way to go. If you are going to The Montage for a future trip, it’s important to consider the reason for your trip and length of stay. If you are going for a long weekend that is focused almost exclusively on mountain activities right at the resort (skiing, snowtubing, snowshoeing, hiking, biking, etc.) then you probably don’t need to rent a car. However, if you plan to stay for longer than 4 days and plan to go to Yellowstone one day and/or plan to have multiple dinners off property, then you will likely want to have the flexibility of having a rental vehicle.

 

The Montage Big Sky opened in December 2022 and it is nestled amongst one of the most luxurious housing communities in the U.S., Spanish Oaks, and one of the most exclusive private clubs in the world, Yellowstone Club.  These communities and clubs, set the stage for a sprawling mountain with very little development and tons of acreage to explore when skiing in the winter or hiking in the summer.  The ski resort is impeccable with large runs spanning multiple valleys which was perfect for both expert skiing or beginners that want to enjoy easier terrain that is less crowded with large groomed runs.


The Montage property features multiple restaurants and bars including a great Italian restaurant, Cortina which also doubles as it’s breakfast restaurant in the morning.  They have a beautiful spa facility with indoor hot tub and swimming pool and also full men and women’s locker rooms with wet lounges, featuring steam room and hot tub.  The 60-minute massage I received during my stay was one of the best massages I have experienced at any luxury resort.

 

The Montage accommodations and facilities really separate it from it’s competitors especially when comparing it to other ski resorts. The Montage Big Sky has a 4-lane bowling alley with video arcade, it has a robust kids program with scheduled list of activities every day, it has a sports simulator where adults or kids can golf, play soccer, football, or play various other games. However, above all of those offerings, the accommodations and the size of some of their residences make it ideal for larger families or groups of people traveling together.



They have standard guest rooms, junior suites and one-bedroom suites that you will find at other ski resorts but they also have very large residences that go from 3-6 bedrooms. I had the opportunity to tour the six-bedroom residence it was one of the highlights of my tour, featuring a very large living room, kitchen, and dining room area with a huge seating area for a large family wanting to be together.  Below is the video I took of the living space.



The food and beverage offerings at the resort were also great and provided enough venues to mix things up during a long weekend stay. If you stay 3 or more nights, you will likely want to get off property to experience some of the other amazing restaurants in town which we did.  We booked a dinner reservation at Horn and Cantle and Olive B’s. Both restaurants were excellent choices and were recommended by the concierge team. Horn and Cantle was a bit more refined ambiance set within a large western log cabin dining hall; very authentic feel for being in Montana. Olive’s Bistro was more casual atmosphere and a little local in feel but the menu offers enough for everyone.



Lastly, the biggest differentiator for staying at The Montage Big Sky is visiting Yellowstone National Park. The resort is 60-70 minutes from the entrance of the park and 80-90 minutes from Old Faithful. In the summer, you can reliably book your vacation with little trouble going to Yellowstone to visit its wonders. In the winter, you will need to plan further in advance to reserve your spot with an official adventure company that is permitted to take guests into the park during the winter months. There are two main activities in the winter for guests planning their vacation at least 4-5 months in advance, you can ride in a snowcoach through the park (a motorcoach with special snow tracks) or you can book a snowmobile tour through the park.



I chose a snowmobile tour because I have been snowmobiling before I felt it would be the most fun for my friends and I. The tour did not disappoint! It was one of the top 5-10 travel experiences I have ever done. Before I get into the positives, I will note that the only negative was a lack of snow in some parts of the park.  However, that can’t be controlled and it did not have an impact on our trip, we were still able to visit all of the main attractions but it’s possible that a lack of snow can sometimes cause snowmobiling tours to be cancelled because you primarily run them on the main roads of the park which need to be covered in snow.

 


During our snowmobiling tour, we entered from the West Yellowstone entrance and very quickly into the trip, we saw a coyote hunting for rabbits and rodents hiding in the snow. Shortly after that, we were lucky enough to ride right next a herd of Bison walking on the road as they were on the move to find some new grass to graze. Then shortly after that, we were lucky enough to have a once in a lifetime experience that was in the middle of happening; a pack of wolves had surrounded an adolescent Bison and injured one of it’s hind legs so it was unable to move and escape them.  It was bleeding at the edge of the river banks but still standing up and holding off the wolves while we were watching but it was an amazing experience to watch it unfold and see the wolves trying to make occasional attacks to it’s leg but really they preferred to just be patient until it was no longer able to stand and then they would eventually kill it. We did not get to see that part of the hunt happen which was probably all for the best but it was still a very special moment because most people never have the opportunity to see wolves in Yellowstone because they prefer to stay away from the roads and hunt deep in the park area away from where most people can see them.



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