A small resort town, a trip to Big Sky can cost Big Bucks. But it doesn't have to. Visit Montana in the summer months and you'll spend a lot less than you would on a ski vacation, without sacrificing any of the fun. Follow these summertime suggestions and you'll be surprised how affordable Big Sky can be.
Camping is by far your cheapest lodging option: Gallatin National Forest offers multiple scenic, RV accessible campsites just outside of Big Sky in Gallatin Canyon for as little as $14 per night.
For the best deals on hotels, lodges, and vacation rentals in Big Sky, book early and ask about summer promotions. Cheaper options include lodging outside Big Sky's Mountain Village on US-191.
Gallatin National Forest
Spanning 1.8 million acres from Yellowstone National Park to the Crazy Mountains North of Bozeman, Big Sky is smack-dab in the middle of Gallatin National Forest. Outdoor recreation abounds, and you'll find plenty of hiking, climbing, and fishing opportunities – all for free.
Grab a map and head out on one of the many trails near Big Sky. Try the hike to Lava Lake for a three-mile hike to a beautiful alpine lake. Hiking Trails.
- Canoeing or Kayaking
Rentals are cheap so it's easy to grab a boat and take to the water. For rapids, pick a section of the Gallatin River and put-in off of US-191. For more serene paddling, hang out on Big Sky's Lake Levinsky or head South to Hebgen Lake, just outside West Yellowstone.
On a warm summer day head to the shores of 15-mile-long Hebgen Lake, where waters are warm enough to swim in by July.
Yellowstone National Park
You'll need at least one full day to discover the true beauty of Yellowstone's geothermal landscape, just an hour south of Big Sky. From the West Yellowstone Entrance, drive along the park 's winding roads for up-close animal sightings views of steaming fumaroles and geysers. Check out classics like Old Faithful, but don't forget to explore cool side hikes or participate in ranger-led programs. Stop for a dip in the Boiling River on your drive to the North Entrance, where you'll exit the park and drive through Paradise Valley before you loop back to Big Sky, stopping for bison burgers in Bozeman.
$30 entrance fee – pass is good for 7 days, Yellowstone National Park
More Info on Yellowstone
Fish the Gallatin River, a Blue Ribbon trout stream that runs right next to Big Sky. Hire a guide and pick up a $25 permit at a local sporting goods store or one of the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks regional offices, available in two-day increments for out-of-staters.
Half Day or Less
Scenic Chairlift Ride
Take Big Sky Resort's Ramcharger chairlift to the top of Andesite Mountain for hiking, stunning views, or the start to a vigorous downhill mountain bike.
Call 406-995-5769 for Details
Rent a mountain bike and hit Big Sky's huge network of singletrack. Grab a map from your rental company and head to the 10-mile Grizzly Loop Mountain Bike Trail – you'll bike through aspen groves, across creeks, and score great mountain views on the easy to intermediate/expert terrain.
Whether it's up Lone Peak or looping around the meadow, there are tons of scenic trails right in Big Sky. Ousel Falls is a local favorite, where you'll end up at the base of a backcountry waterfall. Just outside Big Sky, stop at one of the many trailheads along US-191 for more hiking throughout Gallatin National Forest.
Historic Crail Ranch
The Crail family's original 1902 homestead still stands in Big Sky's Meadow, where you can take free weekend tours. Check out Big Sky's oldest home, then join in on a potato sack race at one of the ranch's old-fashioned games day.
Entertainment & Dining
Happy Hours & Dining Specials
Many local restaurants and bars offer a happy hour and dining specials. Pick up a free local paper (The Lone Peak Lookout or the Big Sky Weekly) to check out deals and events.
Big Sky Farmer's Market
Local Montana vendors sell their wares in the Town Center Park each Wednesday from 5pm-8pm. Grab a steaming quesadilla and a homemade slice of huckleberry pie for dinner, buy fresh produce, or simply peruse the stands and mingle with locals as the sun begins to set behind Lone Peak.
Music in the Mountains
Thursdays from mid-July through September, bring your picnic to the green at Big Sky's Town Center Park to eat dinner while you listen to free live music on the outdoor Center Stage.
Making your own food almost always cuts down on food costs - just make sure to stock up in Bozeman before you make your way down to Big Sky, where grocery stores can be much more expensive. WalMart is the cheapest option, but you'll also find Safeway, Albertsons, and multiple other grocery stores right on Main Street. And don't forget you'll need somewhere to cook: think about finding a unit with a kitchen as you make your lodging reservations or buy a camping stove for meals under the stars.
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