BIG SKY RESORT GUIDE
Big Sky Expert Itinerary
Lone Peak Tram, Big Couloir, South Face, Headwaters, Lone Tree
From Mountain Village -- Lone Peak Tram -- Big Couloir -- South Face -- Lunch @Shedhorn Grill -- Headwaters Bootpack -- Moonlight Basin -- Return to Mountain Village
1. 8:30-10:30am – Lone Peak Tram Jammin'
*Experts can easily spend several days exploring Big Sky's massive terrain. This itinerary can be broken up over a few days.
**Note, get to the Lone Peak Tram as fast as possible in the morning. The tram has a 15 person capacity, so the wait gets long fairly quickly. If you’re not on the first few trams, you’ll wait upwards of an hour. Getting there fast starts with getting in line at Swift Current early. Swift Current doesn’t open until 9am, but put your skis in line before opening. Your skis’ place in line will be respected without you standing watch, allowing you to grab breakfast at Hungry Moose Market & Deli.
From MOUNTAIN VILLAGE take Swift Current ("Swifty" to locals) and exit right to follow Jay Walk, a cat track, to Powder Seeker. Exit Powder Seeker to the right. You'll see the Lone Peak Tram base on the left.
Your run selection will depend on what’s open. The SOUTH FACE is open most of the time and is also the easiest way down. If The Big Couloir is open, it’s a must-ski. You are required to have a
partner and avalanche gear, and to sign a waiver in the ski patrol office at the top of the tram. Ski patrol limits access to two people every fifteen minutes. Once you’ve signed up, your time slot is reserved. You can either wait in a shack at the summit called "The Penalty Box," or ski a run and try to make it back in time for your reservation. We recommend waiting at the summit. The Big Couloir ends up at the base of the tram. Ski past the tram onto Upper Morningstar, a groomer, which becomes Lower Morningstar. Lower Morningstar returns you to Swift Current.
It's time to head to the SOUTH FACE . Take Swift Current. Exit left and ski the right side of Calamity Jane, looking out for Cow Flats, which should be on the right after about 50 yards. Cow Flats is cat track to Shedhorn Lift. Head up Shedhorn. Exit left and onto the cat track. Drop into the bowl on your left that goes by the name Upper Sunlight. When you hate the cat track called Mule Skinner, follow it to the Dakota Lift.
If you don’t do The Big Couloir, ski Liberty Bowl. It’s a long wide open bowl and a wonderful consolation prize. Stay right at the bottom to catch the glades of Dakota Gully to the base of Dakota Lift.
The Big Couloir
Skiing The Big Couloir
2. 10:30am-12:00pm – Groovin' around the South Face
A) Try to ski the South Face in the morning. The southern aspects get more early sunlight and the runs can get a little crusty in the afternoon. Get ready for a few laps on Dakota. First lap, take a left and traverse into Hanging Valley below KIRCHER'S CLIFFS. Second lap, ski the trees directly under the lift. Third lap, take a right when getting off the lift and ski Bavarian Forest. Or, if you find good snow, go back to it.
B) When you're ready to move on, head to Shedhorn, the other lift on the SOUTH FACE, stay left through Bavarian Forest to catch Hippy Highway, and wind your way to its base. Lap Shedhorn a few times. Be sure to hit Chicken Head Bowl and the trees of off Yellow Mule.
Spread Eagle into the South Face!
3. 12-12:45pm – Lunch @Shedhorn Grill
When you’re ready for a break/lunch, stop at Shedhorn Grill. To access Shedhorn Grill, go left at the top of Shedhorn Lift and follow Upper Sunlight until it merges with Skittles Road. Take a left on Skittles Road, which shoots you out at the grill. (Shedhorn Grill is also visible from the lift.) This is mid-mountain dining as it's supposed to be: simple grilled food eaten on a deck with amazing views of Lone Mountain, the Yellowstone Club, and the Madison Range.
A to Z Chutes
Making our way up Headwaters Bootpack
4. 12:45-2:45pm – On a Knife's Edge: The Headwaters Bootpack
The afternoon holds more iconic terrain. Head to Challenger Lift to access the HEADWATERS BOOTPACK. Head past the bottom of Powder Seeker and catch Jay Walk. Stay on Jay Walk as it becomes BRT Road. Get off BRT when you reach Blue Moon, an open run under Challenger Lift that takes you to the base of Challenger.
Get off Challenger and go straight. You’ll pass the top of Headwaters Lift. Beyond the top of Headwaters Lift is the access gate for the bootpack. It’s surrounded by signs that warn of the terrain and explaining personal responsibility. There’s a beacon checker too, so make sure you remember to turn yours on.
For the HEADWATERS BOOTPACK you'll want a partner and avalanche gear, especially a backpack to carry your skis, so you can have both hands free for balance. The wind on the ridge is generally strong and blows from the left, which is important because it pushes you to the right, and to the right are the Headwaters, which are long steep chutes that you don’t want to fall down. Long story short, bring a backpack. There are multiple runs off both sides of the ridge. But, you’re headed to the end of the bootpack, to Three Forks.
Three Forks is another one of Big Sky's iconic, bucket list runs. It hosts big mountain skiing competitions annually. The snow is great even if it hasn't snowed in a while, because the run collects snow blown over the ridge by prevailing western winds. You have to drop a small cornice into one of the three chutes. About two-thirds of the way down, the three chutes converge, and there are two narrower chutes to choose from that spit you out into Stillwater Bowl at the bottom. Take Stillwater Traverse to the bottom of Lone Tree Lift.
If you want to skip the bootpack, exit Challenger to the right, and ski Cold Spring or Alder Gulch. Both are to the skier's left next to Headwaters Lift. They are steep chutes that spit out into Stillwater Bowl. At the bottom of Stillwater Bowl, follow the cat track, called Stillwater Traverse to the left, which takes you to Lone Tree.
5. 2:45-3:45pm – Lone Tree - Chutes & Trees on the Mountain's North Side
You’ve made it to the other end of the mountain. Time to explore, the north side’s chutes and trees, which are usually better in the afternoon when they get a little sun. Also by afternoon, prevailing westerly winds might have deposited a nice layer of wind buff onto the north side's slopes.
Take Lone Tree and ski Lone Tree Face. The face deserves a couple laps. First lap, go left off the lift. For the second lap, take a right off the lift, but make sure to take a right onto Meriwether Cutoff, which leads back to the Lone Tree Lift. On the third lap up Lone Tree, it's time for a long groomer. Go straight and get onto Horseshoe. Let the skis run and enjoy the journey through the trees to the base of Six Shooter.
6. 3:45pm – Heading Home
From the top of Six Shooter, there are multiple ways to get home:
A) If your legs are shot and you’re done for the day....Take Fast Lane and follow the signs back to MOUNTAIN VILLAGE.
B) You want one more run….Take Fast Lane and then go left onto Blue Moon to the bottom of Challenger Lift. There’s one more iconic Big Sky chute to ski. At the top of Challenger, loop around and follow the lift towers. Keep left as the run steepens and look for a narrow traverse into Big Rock Tongue, a narrow chute that stays soft late in the day. Big Rock Tongue connects with Fast Lane. Take Fast Lane back to MOUNTAIN VILLAGE.
C) You want one more run and a little more exercise….From Six Shooter head to Headwaters Lift: a fixed grip two-pack from another era. Getting to Headwaters Lift requires a short bootpack up a cat track. The cat track starts at the landing area at the top of Six Shooter. Ride Headwaters. At the top of Headwaters, go straight and take Highway, a steep bowl. Highway spits out onto Lower Morningstar, a long easy groomer that takes you back to the MOUNTAIN VILLAGE for some well-deserved for après.
You skied some of the biggest in-bounds terrain in North America. Celebrate with a beer or two.
Visit our après guide here.
WANT TO TAKE IT A LITTLE EASIER?