Montana's Big Sky Gets Even Bigger: Resort joins Moonlight Basin, opens new terrain

One of the country's top ski resorts, Big Sky, on the east side of Lone Peak in Montana, is just 45 miles from Bozeman. This winter, Bozeman will have daily flights from Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Denver, Seattle and Boise, plus seasonal service from Detroit, weekly non-stop service from Chicago and twice-weekly direct flights from Atlanta. A snowboarder sails above Big Sky's half-pipe

Big Sky gets between 300 and 500 inches of annual snowfall and has a high-tech, high-volume lift system.

The resort has joined with Moonlight Basin, on the north side of Lone Peak, to offer 4,350 vertical feet and 5,512 acres of terrain—the largest skiable acreage in the U.S. accessible with a single lift pass, the Lone Peak ticket. This includes the 200-acre Dakota Territories bowl, which the resort will open for the first time this season, now reachable from the Lone Peak Tram. Big Sky also has an excellent terrain park and half-pipe, located conveniently above Ambush Glades with high-speed access off of the Ram Charger quad.

Downhill, snowboard, telemark, powder, moguls, advanced/extreme clinics and camps for children and adults are available, including park and pipe lessons. Adult group lessons start at $55 for a half day, while half-day lessons and day camps for ages 4 to 17 combining skiing/riding and activities also start at $55. Multi-day discounts are available. Small Fry Try, for ages 3 to 4, provides children with a one-on-one introduction to skiing or snowboarding for $70 a session. Adult ski rental packages range between $28 and $43 a day, while children's packages begin at $20 a day. Snowboard rentals start at $36 a day. Sits on the east side of Lone Peak  in Montana

There are 13 restaurants and night-spots in the Mountain Village itself, and more than 40 throughout the community, including the Bambu Bar & Asian Bistro (406-995-4933), a local favorite. This season, Whiskey Jack's bar and restaurant, formerly Dante's Inferno, will reopen at the base of the slopes, serving daily lunch, après ski and dinner. The Club at Spanish Peaks will open the on-mountain Pinnacle at Big Sky, formerly the Dug-Out, serving daily lunch and snowcat dinners four days a week.

Regular shuttles are available, including daily shuttles to Yellowstone National Park, 18 miles away, for snowmobiling, snowcoach, snowshoeing cross-country skiing and wildlife viewing. Other add-on activities to pitch to clients include guided mountain tours, gourmet sleigh ride dinners, ice skating, nightly movies, gaming, spas, winter fly-fishing, dogsledding and a free après ski kids club for Big Sky Central Reservations guests. Lone Mountain Ranch is a world-class Nordic resort located six miles away; tickets are $20 (www.lonemountainranch.com). For guests wishing to be pampered, recommend the Solace Spa (406-995-5803). Every year there is a torchlight parade on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, as well as Saturday night firework displays from Christmas till the end of the season, plus Dummy Jump, Pond Skimming and Terrain Park contests.

Lodging Options

More than 1,000 accommodations are available—most slopeside—ranging from economy to luxury. Choose from hotels, suites, studios, condominiums and cabins to best fit your group. Ski & Stay packages are available. All on-mountain properties include access to outdoor heated pools, hot tubs, a fitness center and a sauna or steam room. Big Sky resort

An excellent on-mountain option is the Summit at Big Sky, a Euro-Western-style condo-hotel within 100 yards of three chairlifts. It has an oversized hot tub, fitness center, Peaks restaurant, bar and the Carabiner Lounge.

It offers rooms with one king or two queen-sized beds, studios, suites and condos. The best rooms are the four-bedroom Summit Penthouses, which each have a fireplace in the master bedroom and a window-view spa tub.

The best accommodations at the resort, however, are the ski-in/ski-out Moonlight Penthouses at the new Moonlight Lodge and Spa, directly in front of the Iron Horse Chairlift. The Summit at Big Sky, a 10-story luxury complex

The lodge has amenities such as spa and health club privileges, an outdoor pool and hot tub, a small deck and a fully equipped kitchen.

Useful guest services here include free resort shuttle service, grocery delivery and full concierge service. Request rooms with a private hot tub, a fireplace and a washer and dryer.

Agents should contact Big Sky Central Reservations directly at 800-548-4486, 406-995-5000, or www.bigskyresort.com/lodging.

Another option is to book a commissionable package through Ski.com (800-778-8589).

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