Big Sky, Montana, is essentially a massive resort, with a combined three or four sets of ski runs over as many peaks, making the town resort the largest ski basin in the United States. Among the small, unincorporated town's resorts is one of the top ten lifestyle estates in the world, the Yellowstone Club. A private community in Big Sky, Montana, whose members include Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Tom Brady, Jennifer Garner, Bill Gates, Dan Quayle, Ben Affleck, and, apparently, Lamb Chop (the sock puppet).
I live a little more than an hour from Big Sky, Montana, and one morning, while sitting by the Yellowstone River, I felt an overwhelming desire to check the town resort out (I'll continue to refer to Big Sky as a town resort as opposed to a resort town, it's intentional for the purpose of implying that Big Sky is more of a town resort than it is a resort town).
The drive was gorgeous, especially when I got into the Gallatin National Forest on HWY 191, adjacent to the Gallatin River. There were a handful of bridges on the way, most of which were beautifully designed and constructed. A park developed naturally off of one bridge, surrounded by creek tributaries and pathways, a dozen or more cars were parked opposite the bridge and people were taking turns jumping off of the bridge and into the Gallatin River. I made it a point to stop there on my way back and sat on a rock by the Gallatin River and watched people jump, I hiked back into the forest, always taking in how beautiful everything was. I had to force myself to leave so that I could get back just after dark.
Every couple of miles or so there were fishermen fly fishing in the middle of the Gallatin River, it was the first time since being in Montana that I’ve actually seen people who have waded out into the river to fish, it inspired me to consider looking into a sport that I’ve never really taken an interest in. Rafting is also hugely popular here, and I saw several rafts full of rafters, and wondered if there’s a sort of right-of-way etiquette that exists between rafters and fly fishermen sharing a river.
It was confusing maneuvering through Big Sky, I had trouble trying to figure out where the town even was. My GPS was telling me one thing and the road signage was telling me another. I drove down HWY 191 following my GPS and passed a school, several businesses, nothing of note so I back tracked and turned down 64 (Lone Mountain Trail), and started passing a couple little pockets of town. Big Sky seems to be scattered into a handful of small pockets, the heart of which is “Town Center.” I parked at Town Center and started wandering around on foot, and peeking my head into shops and different restaurants, all the restaurants, every last one of them looked amazing.
I got the impression that a Saturday night in Big Sky, during the height of ski season, made the town center the equivalent of a music festival. The Len Hill Park at the center of Town Center has an amazing, state-of-the-art stage and sound system (I snuck around there a bit), and there is even a larger, more luxurious stage set up a few hundred yards from Town Center. I had just missed The Indigo Girls and Brandi Carlisle who had played the night before for the Wildlands Festival.
For dinner I stopped at the Rocks, and had the best Taco Flatbread I’ve ever had, and then sat in Fire Pit Park across the street from the restaurant imagining what Town Center was like the night before. There’s a very large round fire pit at the center of Fire Pit Park across the street from that park is the Len Hill Music Park. I could picture people with a drink in their hand, sitting around the firepit while listening to the Indigo Girls in the near distance.
I sat, or laid on a bench of sorts, a large wooden elliptical art piece that is supposed to pass as a bench, reading, it was a gorgeous day, and the mountains surrounding Big Sky made for a helluva landscape, the view was amazing. You could lie there staring out towards the mountains and up into the sky all day, and it wouldn’t have been a waste of a day. Big Sky, Montana, in the summer’s and the fall, is a quiet place, it is probably the only true winter season town, and the downside to that is that because of where Big Sky is located it’s very possible that once you’re there, you’re stuck there, although that might not be such a terrible thing, especially if you have money. It is Bill Gates’ backyard after all, and there's probably good reason for that. I was only in Big Sky, Montana for the afternoon, and there was very little going on, nevertheless, I'm going to enjoy spending more time there in the near future. Keep and eye out for a future post.