Places to Love: Big Sky, Montana

Samantha Brown

Welcome to Big Sky, Montana! This is a destination that sees 400 inches of powder on average and is home to nearly 6,000 skiable acres. No matter the season or how low the temperatures drop, there’s always something inspiring to find if you’re curious enough to look. From embracing the snowy outdoors to enjoying the local businesses of a tight-knit community, join me as I explore what makes Big Sky a Place to Love.


Since I was visiting one of the snowiest destinations I’ve been to yet, it only seemed right to meet the four-legged creatures who keep it safe. Dating back to the 1700s, avalanche dogs have the very important task of finding anyone who may be buried in the snow. Even today with all our technological advancements, these dogs have been proven to be more effective. I had the chance to meet Dan Skilling of Big Sky Ski Patrol and his pup, Tela, to learn more about what they do. I also had the chance to see her rescue skills at work – not as an observer but as the human needing rescue!


If you’re going to visit Big Sky in the winter, it would be a shame to miss out on all those acres of skiing. Nevermind that I had my first and last lesson in 1981; I was ready to hit the slopes. Luckily, I had two things going for me. The first is that of those 5,850 acres, 2,300 are set aside for intermediate and beginner skiers, so I had plenty of space to practice. The second is that I wasn’t skiing alone. I had a guide in Christine Baker who’s the Director of Mountain Sports School. She started skiing the same year I did. Instead of never taking another lesson again, though, she fell in love with the sport and proclaimed she’d be a ski instructor at only 6 years old. You’ll have to see how I managed!


Once you’ve worked up an appetite from skiing, there are just two big things you need – protein and booze. Luckily, I have the perfect place for you. After 20 years of restaurant experience, Kara and Ben Bodgett made their dreams come true by opening up The Rocks Tasting Room. All beer and liquor are from Montana and the menu is a mix of delicious dishes that’ll help refuel you after a day on the slopes. You’ll be surprised by their signature dish and how they put a Montana twist on it.


Who would’ve thought Montana was a great place to learn more about dinosaurs? Believe it or not, the Museum of the Rockies holds the largest dinosaur collection in North America! Even better, all of the fossils at this renowned natural history museum come from either in-state or right near the borders. Between their permanent collections and changing exhibits, MOR aims to inspire people all over the world to be more curious about our surroundings. I had the chance to join one of those individuals when I met up with Dr. John Scanella. He grew up in New York City watching paleontologist Jack Horner dig up bones in Montana and made it his goal to come here himself. Today he’s more than fulfilled that dream by taking over Horner’s job at the museum – Curator of Paleontology.   


I know what you’re thinking – fly fishing in winter? Yes! Head over to the Gallatin River for one of the purest water sources in the world. I met up with Carlye Luft, a guide for Gallatin River Guides and Director of the Montana Women’s Fly Fishing School, to learn what to do. While showing me the ropes, she also explained the way fly fishing forces you to decompress and relax in a more holistic way. The need to be still, the rhythm of the water, and the single-minded task of catching a fish can do wonders for your physical, emotional, and mental health. Luft would know – she is a US Veteran who’s been on her own journey of healing, and she’s also a licensed naturopathic physician.