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Anyone ski Big Sky/Moonlight Basin?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Looking for feedback on mountain as well as overall impression of the resort and lodging. Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 24
First off, Big Sky is where the EpicSki Academy will be at for 2005. Check that forum section for further detail.

Big Sky is huge. It has an vast amount of differing terrain including some wide open steeps and great groomers. It is a place both experts and beginners will find plenty of terrain to ski. The snow quality is usually very good with minimal icy days. The powder is usually excellent there (and often lasts all day on weekdays). There is rarely a lift line at Big Sky especially during the week.

Big Sky has three major downsides. (These disadvantages are shared with Moonlight Basin.) First, it is on the east side of the Great Divide and if you've been following recent history that part of the Rockies has been in a drought for years. Big Sky has had plenty of snow for good skiing the past 4 years but it often doesn't come until after Christmas. It is risky to plan an Xmas skiing there unless you want to stay on the groomers. Another big downside to Big Sky is it can get extremely cold there especially early in the season. Lastly, there really isn't a town there so if you are going as much for the apres-ski as the skiing its not a place to head. There are some decent restaurants & bars around but you can't go bar hopping or shopping like you can in Jackson.

Moonlight Basin was mediocre this year in my opinion. I do know some people that loved it because it has sparser crowds than Big Sky. This years terrain was meandering blue & green groomers. Next season will be a different story. They are expanding into the section of Lone Mountain that was reserved for cat skiing. The terrain there is advance with some really good glade and tree skiing. From what I can tell the expansion will not open up much expert skiing, though.

Moonlight Basin is located on the north side of Lone Mountain. This has both advantages and disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage is the light gets flat there much earlier in the day in December & January. The main advantages are the powder holds longer on sunny days and the mountain doesn't slush out as badly in the spring.

You have numerous lodging options up there. I am most familiar with the two hotels at the base of Big Sky, The Summit & the Huntley Lodge. The advantages of the hotels is they are right at the bottom at the mountain, they contain numerous services, they have restaurants and bars in them plus they are close to other restaurants and bars and they have shuttle services.

There is ski-in/ski-out town homes, condos and cabins at both Moonlight and Big Sky. The Moonlight ski-in/ski-out is a truer ski-in/ski-on. Some of the Big Sky rentals require you to take chairs that cross roads & parking lots. I really don't know much more about those options, though.
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I was there a couple of weeks ago and really loved the area. I was thinking about buying a place there. We were looking at the Beaverhead, Saddle ridge and Big horn developments. The mountain area seems to be booming and the real estate is still reasonable comaparitive to other locations like Park city and The vail/beavercreek areas. When you say cold what do mean? Like Tremblant cold? or low humidity but 10-15 degrees daytime temp. I can deal with that, but the -20 and biting wind sucks.

BTW- Moonlight basin and Big sky are in a big fight over the mountain and the use of certain lifts and such. It's a shame sicne Moonlight is a premium location and the owners spend a lot money down at Big Sky. Hopefully they will ge this resolved.
post #4 of 24
Cold is 10 or below which is cold enough to quickly chill exposed skin when you're moving. There aren't many super-cold days there (but enough to ruin a vacation if you schedule at the wrong time). The cold spells usually occur in December & early January. When the severe cold sets in it is usually accompanied by dry, still air and sunny skies. Most of the winds at Big Sky are from the west which are warm winds.

Real estate at Big Sky is relatively cheap because it is harder to get to and there isn't a chic town near by. There is a plan to build a town there modeled after Jackson but I'm not sure if that is a pipe dream or not.

There is a three way tussle over Lone Mountain. Moonlight Basin got rights to the summit for a tram but the Yellowstone Club claims they should have been awarded the summit so they are suing. Big Sky is suing Moonlight over various pissy things but the underlying reasons are Big Sky thought they were going to expand into the area Moonlight Basin is occupying thus creating the largest ski area North America and also because Moonlight Basin is doing great business selling ski-in/ski-out places.
post #5 of 24
I can't add much more than Rio already said. I will re-emphasize the lack of crowds though. I was there 4 or 5 years ago during Presidents week, and we had a few lineups the first Sunday. The rest of the week was right onto the chair for the most part. The tram can get a line, but it's well worth the wait.

The feeling I got from the place was that it was authentic. I don't know if that has changed with the Moonlight development. Will definitely go back some day, but there's so many western resorts for me to hit.

Good luck with your decision. Will it be full time, or just a vacation property?
post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks, well the base village (set in the meadow) is set to begin construction shorlty so that's a definite. I never heard anything about Tim Blixith (sp) who owns Yellowstone suing but I know he tried to by the Boyne family out last year but Boyne wouldn't sell. The general attitude of business owners and such that we spoke with wished Boyne would get out because they have not done a good job at creating a intra-west, ala Wistler, Beaver Creek, Tremblant style mountain base village that is sorely missing. It appears that Moonlight is making better strides at this. They built an incredible mountian lodge that rivals anything at Vail or Beavercreek. They are also building a world-class golf course at the Basin as well. I think Boyne realizes that they missed the ball on the mountain. Moonlight does have a ton of premium ski-in/out townhomes and cabins but moonlights price tag is high. The cheapest townhome in Moonlight is about $420,000 and that's not even ski-in/out. The vast majority of propoerties are in the 800K-1.5 Million range now. Their properties values have appreciated signifiantly. We are looking to buy now, take the apprecaition and then hopefully move out there in 3-5 years. I live in a rural area of NJ, mostly farms and a lot of state parks and such but I love the mountains and the attitude of the folks in that part of the country. There are a lot of folks out there who moved from Colorado and Utah ski resort areas. Access really isn't so bad. You can be at Big Sky/Moonlight in 45-1 hour from the airport. You take 191 south Out of Bozeman. The road is flat the entire way and they keep it open and clean. It's the only highway from Bozeman going to West Yellowstone and down to Jackson. There is huge potential for this resort, once they get someone who knows how to get the mountain organized and more like the other sucessful resorts. The terrain is there, it just needs that base village and to stop the fighting, it hurts everyone.
post #7 of 24
I'm enjoying Boyne's bungling because they are doing a great job keeping the crowds away.
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Good point! Still, even if you nearly doubled the riders, you would hardly even notice! Moonlight is doubling their runs this season with plans to expand even more.
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Just noticed where you are from! Hey I really enjoyed Bozeman. Nice town/city. My Wife and I had lunch down at the natural food grocery store. Cool place. I can see why you would like to see the Boynes remain! We stayed at the Rainbow Ranch and loved the food over at the Coral! Great Buffalo steaks!!!
post #10 of 24
Hey Ron, since we're gonna be neighbors can I borrow your power saw?
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 
sure as long as I can borrow your skis
post #12 of 24
Ahhhh.....are you asking for the Pocket Rockets, V-Pros, SUV 12x's, Ski Cross 10s, SuperMountains, 4X4 Bigs (with flames) or something else?
post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hmm, I would guess the rockets. Unfortunatley, I don't get to ski big mountain stuff but would love to. Watched the segment in "RIDE", Warren Miller's movie this weekend filmed in Big Sky on the peaks of Lone Mountain. Looked like the Moonlight side.
post #14 of 24
Well, since I creamed an edge on my PRs last year at Jackson Hole you can borrow them (they still work great in powder & crud) but if you're staying on groomers I'd recommend the SUV 12x. Talk about a wickedly stable ski. They're a dangerous combination with the wide-open empty groomers at Big Sky.
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
And I heard you Bozeman folks didn't like us outsiders coming in to your paradise! Thanks for the offer! OK, I'll give you a killer deal on my townhouse rental if it's free. I think I'm going with either Saddle Ridge or Powder Ridge, let me know which you prefer. I do like 6 Stars in a 168 for fast carving, I ski Volkl G3's in 177 as well and will be looking at Atomic Metron XI's. No kidding though, Montana is an awesome state and we really loved it out there.
post #16 of 24
I don't mind outsiders coming into Montana and buying a house in a development with some density. What is killing Montana is the parcelling of the open-space into 2 to 5 acre lots.....rural sprawl.

The 6-Stars will be ideal for Big Sky. Even though I've had some incredible powder days at Big Sky some of my best memories there are of blue skies, empty runs & freshly groomed packed powder.
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
Understood completly, welcome to NJ, Sprawl capital of the world! Do whatever you can to stop it before it creeps down the 191 coridor. That whole area from Bozeman down to Wyoming is incredibly beautiful and should be protected as a treasure. I have not been to many places more incredible. Not to mention, the folks that live out there are hard working, kind decent people.
post #18 of 24
Hey Rio, long time no type. My PC took a hit about a month ago so I was browsing at work and saw this thread. (I also seem to have been deleted from this forum but no biggie)

So the bears gathering for 2005 is at Big Sky? very cool. Make it snow some for us o.k.?

Anyway, what is happening at MLB for this season? The Lone Tree chair is well on the way to completion. Its a little chair with big rewards. The ride time will be in the vicinity of 4 mins. and will access a boatload of new terrain. We have a good sized trail crew doing clean up on the existing cat trails from past years and they have also done some very fine work within the 6 shooter complex including a new gladed area that will rock! Some trails will also be cut but the majority of the terrain will be gladed and a lot of fun. I think you will be suprised by the amount of expert terrain that the lift will offer. We have also completed purchase of a Dopplemayer T-Bar and will re-engineer it this winter and install the lift next summer to access the ridge of the Headwaters area, no more hiking after this season but the ride and terrain will keep the area the domain of high expert skiers and boarders only.

Yes the lawsuit between Boyne and MLB continues, what a waste of time and money. As far as the suit over who owns the top of Lone Mountain, that is strictly between Tim B. and the USFS, we are not a part of the whole thing other than having title to the disputed hunk of land. To be perfectly honest, Big Sky has already built on about the only usable profile that was possible. Claims that the YC wants a lift to the summit are a pipe dream.

I can't believe it will be August next week but that does bring us closer to skiing so what the hey! I still enjoy working for MLB and am having a great summer. See you all real soon.
post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hey Jack, what are your thoughts about Saddle Ridge townhomes? I am looking at buying one of those or a Powder Ridge unit. your input would be greatly appreciated. I plan to be back out there end of August/September.
post #20 of 24
Jack -

Any ticket discounts available for the ESA attendees on the days surrounding the ESA?

I was really happy to find out about this summer's expansion. I have been ogling the terrain it is going into ever since I saw the initial plans for Moonlight. It looks like some great terrain that should be incredible on powder days. (I am probably a little stringent on my definition of expert terrain which is steep with rocks on both sides.....that seems to be what people expect when they visit this part of Montana.)

I am also glad to hear about the T-bar next year. That will open up some truly hair-raising expert terrain to those of us that are 'earn-your-turns' challenged. (I enjoy the Ridge at Bridger but I don't enjoy skiing down the chutes exhausted from the climb up on powder days.)
post #21 of 24
RR, yes there are some group rate discounts available. Another way to go would be for a group to buy a single tick book which is 13 passes for right at 29.00 a piece, you can split the whole book 13 ways if you have a mind to. Send me a PM with contact info and I can forward that to our group sales dept.

Ron; Powder Ridge VS Saddle Ridge eh? The Powder Ridge cabins are nice but small, the location is o.k. but to access the ski areas and back to your cabin requires you to ride a slow chair that runs on a spotty schedule. The rest of the location is very nice with a creek close by and a good Mtn Bike trail next door.
Saddle Ridge is located so that you can access either ski area by more reliable chair lifts and the ski back to the condos from either area requires a bit less orienteering. The units are nice and have a good rental and re-sale record. You are a good ways away from the base area of the Big Sky resort so you miss a bit of what little night life it has to offer. The Moonlight Lodge is close by.
post #22 of 24
Sorry---couldn't resist!

Who is this guy and does he know Jack Merde ?
post #23 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input, it is much appreciated. Obviously, I will have to go and look again, but a "locals" perspective is most helpful and accurate. I like "Jason" up at ML but others' neutral input is a good thing.
post #24 of 24
Yeah, judging by some of his other posts, he definitely doesn't know Jack Merde.
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Anyone ski Big Sky/Moonlight Basin?