Summer in Big Sky
In a lot of areas around the country one will find four seasons – fall, winter, spring, summer. Here in Big Sky, Montana it’s safe to say we typically see two, winter and summer. The transition between these seasons can be swift, with snow up until May and then back again come early October. With this area under a blanket of snow most of the year, when the signs of summer in Big Sky start to shine through, you learn to make the most of those long days.
When to Visit
June – Ski season in Big Sky often runs through the end of April, May is the limbo month with more snow and hopes of sunshine that brings warmer weather, and June is truly the start of our summer season. The days are longer, the nights are starting to get warmer, the wildlife is out in abundance, and the great outdoors consistently call our name with opportunities to fish, hike, bike, and explore. The options are truly endless once the snow is gone and the sun is shining. June is an amazing month to visit as you will see better rates for all lodging and activities, you will miss the rush of summer visitors that we see in July and August, the area golf courses are opening, Big Sky Resort opens with a range of outdoor activities, the hiking and biking is dry, fast and open, and Yellowstone National Park is technicolor with vibrant greens in the hillsides, wildflowers exploding and wildlife getting comfortable outside of their winter routines. While June is the giddy month of summer, it can also be on the chilly side with moody weather and it would not be an anomaly to see a day or two of snow this time of the year. If you can bear the uncertainty of weather, June is your month to visit Southwest Montana.
July – With the 4th of July, PBR weekend, and simply delightful weather, July tends to be the month to spend a slice of your summer in the Big Sky. Moonlight Basin, Spanish Peaks Mountain Club, and Yellowstone Club are all buzzing with energy and activity. From the Mountain Village to the Meadow Village communities, the town is packed with weekly music in the mountains, festivals, daily adventures, and farmers' markets. You can be outside just about every day and spend nights under the stars reminiscing about your day well spent exploring the great outdoors.
August – The latter half of the summer is much like the beginning but with better weather. The summer tourists tend to head back home, school starts and interests turn elsewhere, leaving this time of the summer in Big Sky to be the perfect time to make a trip out to SW Montana. The weather in August can be quite enticing as well warm summer days with slightly cooler nights and a chance of an exciting afternoon thunderstorm. This time of the year is still abuzz with activity and events and a pleasant time of the year to summer in Big Sky, even just for a short visit.
September – The days are still warm, fishing is phenomenal, hunting season begins, and the crowds are typically nonexistent- this is September during summer in Big Sky. While we can see snow in September and we may see less of the not to miss events, this time of the year is what locals live for during the summer. Truly nice weather, no lines, no reservations needed, and you can come and go as you please on the trails all without a rush of fellow hikers or bikers it really is one of the nicer months of the summer, not to mention the entire year. There is excitement for the winter ahead but people are still eager to adventure and get outside to explore.
What To Do
A summer in Big Sky brings you back to the days of running to your neighbors, biking to your local pool or just being wild and free without limitations. In an effort to conserve the wild and natural environment of Big Sky, this community prides itself on outdoor opportunities. Fishing, hiking, biking, exploring, floating, and rafting, the options are endless during a summer in Big Sky.
Hike – Hiking can be easy, and convenient, and take you to places that are wild, free, and full of beauty. The best part about hiking is it’s something the entire family can enjoy together. For beauty and convenience, stay local with the stunning Ousel Falls trail. This trail is complete with a nicely maintained trail, waterfall and at just two miles round trip, this hike is one to enjoy with everyone from strollers to grandma and grandpa. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous and not afraid of a little elevation gain, Beehive Basin (7.1 miles) or Lava Lake (5.5 miles) are great options, both with high alpine lakes at the pinnacle of the trail and wildflowers galore. Interested in a little fishing while hiking? Golden Trout Lakes is an ideal option located in the Gallatin Canyon, complete with a trout lake and just under 5 miles round trip with the opportunity to take it farther with trail connections. The hiking opportunities are truly right out of your day and ready for you to explore.
Yellowstone National Park – Tourists recognize Old Faithful, but the locals know Yellowstone is so much more than that. Visit in June or September to miss the crowds, and enjoy good weather, and an abundance of colors as these months tend to be the most vibrant. July and August are certainly the favorite months among travelers, due to summer breaks and the amazing weather we see this time of year. While the crowds can be steady, the wildlife and scenery are still out in full force during these busier months.
Yellowstone National Park is truly a special place with a history and beauty that rivals most National Parks. YNP really doesn’t have a perfect time to visit. This experience shines throughout the winter months with the beauty of the snow and unique tours available throughout the park. When the snow melts, the roads open to just pedestrian and bike traffic for a couple of weeks before the floodgates of summer open. During the summer months, there are public and private tours available, you can bike through the park, take a hike on one of the numerous trails within the Park, or you can simply drive your way through to experience what you like on your own agenda.
Fish – Southwest Montana is a dream for any fisherman out there. The rivers surrounding this little mountain town are world class and bring people people in from all over the country with hopes of a top shelf day out on the Madison, Gallatin or Yellowstone Rivers. Even the locals can’t get enough of the fishing with the fishing season going off April through October…there even some warm winter days that warrant a day on the river vs. a day out on the mountain.
Similar to ski shops in a mountain town, there are a number of fly fishing shops in Big Sky, all offering a range of services- think fishing rentals, casting lessons, float trips, the best flies to use on the river, and retail galore (don’t forget your fishing license – these shops can help with this too!). Grizzly Outfitters, Eastslope Outdoors, and Gallatin River Guides are all great fishing shops to explore and learn more about the fishing opportunities in and around Big Sky.
Family Float – From rafting on the Gallatin to tubing down the lazy portions of the Madison River, there is an opportunity for adrenaline-rushing experiences to something more mellow and relaxing. Both are unique and fun opportunities for the whole family to participate in. Montana Whitewater can assist with curating both of these experiences.
Bike – The biking community in Big Sky is rapidly growing with new interest from never-evers and steady devotion from those who have loved the sport forever. With cross-country trails sprinkled throughout Big Sky and beyond and the growing downhill biking opportunities at Big Sky Resort, there is a trail for all levels. Depending on your skill level, if you can hike it, you can bike it. If biking in the mountains is new to you, start off at the basics with a lesson from Big Sky Resort. If you prefer to give it a go yourself, there are a range of trail options from the Meadow Village all the way up and around the Mountain Village…one trail that is a favorite among all skill levels is the Mountain to Meadow Trail. This trail starts near the base of Big Sky and is a nice mellow cross-country and downhill trail, perfect for the beginner/intermediate biker.
Big Sky PBR – One of our favorite events of the season- the Big Sky PBR is a not to miss during a summer in Big Sky. If you haven’t experienced this event yet, it’s not too late to book that trip and make your way to Montana for the Professional Bull Riding event of the year. For the fifth consecutive year, the Big Sky PBR was voted the best PBR event in the Nation…this event and many more speak to the ever-growing adventures here in Big Sky. The growth of summer in this area has created something for everyone to enjoy. Don’t forget your tickets While most events and activities in the area don’t need months of advance planning, the Big Sky PRB is certainly one you will want to plan on. Tickets go on sale Thursday, March 1st, and do sell out quickly…so mark your calendars for July 27th & July 28th, and don’t forget your Tickets! The Big Sky PBR is just one of the many events that take place in Big Sky- don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or shoot us an email to learn more about the fun events and activities of the summer season.
Mooonlight Musicfest – The breeze of summer, amazing music, views for days, and crisp mountain air…what is not to love about this one-of-a-kind music festival. The lineup is confirmed and the weekend details are set… don’t forget to save the date for the inaugural Moonlight MusicFest (@moonlightmusicfest) on August 17-18,2018 at the Big Sky Resort, Madison Base Village.
Located at the base of Lone Peak at Moonlight Basin, complete with 360 degrees of mountains and wilderness, the festival features two days of diverse national and local talent to create what is going to be one of the best events of the summer with an incredible lineup, in a truly unique and special setting. Visit the MusicFEST website to learn more about this Big Sky summer event.