10 Awesome Outdoor Adventures in Big Sky, Montana
Like a great, glowing fireworks display, the aurora borealis lights up the sky above Lone Peak during one of Big Sky’s extraordinary summer spectacles. The otherworldly show of brilliant reds, greens, and yellows, also known as the northern lights, is a natural phenomenon caused by increased solar activity. And there’s no better place to witness this atmospheric wonder than Big Sky, Montana, with its wide-open vistas and stunning mountain backdrop.
Cradled between the Spanish Peaks and the Gallatin Mountain Ranges, Big Sky is a hiker’s dream. Popular trails lead to spectacular destinations, including high mountain lakes like Lava Lake and Hidden Lakes, as well as towering lookouts like Cinnamon Mountain and Storm Castle Rock. There are trails for hikers of all ages and abilities, from meandering wildflower walks to rugged peak ascents–and everything in between. Nearby, Yellowstone National Park has many opportunities for backpacking and day hiking adventures. Check with area outfitters for gear, maps and experienced guides.
Big Sky’s Beehive Basin is considered by some to be among the world’s greatest hikes. Explore your way through fields of wildflowers, along roaring brooks, with snow-clad peaks in the distance and refreshing mountain air all around. The challenging 6.4 mile round-trip hike begins with views of Big Sky Valley and snakes its way up to the basin where a high mountain lake awaits. Spread your picnic lunch in a gorgeous setting, surrounded by open vistas, tall rugged mountains, and perhaps some lingering patches of snow.
Big Sky, Montana is a fishing paradise, with its blue-ribbon trout streams, tumbling rivers, alpine lakes and mountain brooks. Throughout the scenic Gallatin River Canyon are numerous fishing holes and access points for all experience levels. The Madison and Yellowstone Rivers, also known as legendary fishing waters, are only an hour’s drive from Big Sky. For those new to fishing, experienced guides in the Big Sky area can teach you everything from how to tie knots to the perfect casting techniques.
Big Sky’s renowned Gallatin River, where scenes from “A River Runs Through It” were filmed, flows right through spectacular Gallatin Canyon. Big Sky is home to a number of fly-fishing shops with guide services, offering walk/wade trips on the Gallatin River and walk/wade or float trips on the Madison or Yellowstone. Some guide services also offer trips to more remote wilderness lakes and spring creeks in the area, providing in-depth knowledge about the best fishing holes and flies to use.
Big Sky, Montana is aptly named for its wide-open spaces and infinite views. With the Rocky Mountains on the horizon, the valley offers an ever-changing display of shifting light and clouds. Best known perhaps for its world-class skiing, Big Sky is also a summer outdoor playground with an incredible variety of recreational offerings. From whitewater adventures on the Gallatin River, to backcountry hikes, fishing, biking, ziplining and more, Big Sky is an unforgettable summer destination for the whole family.
One of the best ways to explore Big Sky country is on horseback–the quintessential Western experience. Saddle up with one of the area’s outfitters and head out for a half- or full-day trail ride into the wild backcountry. Riders of all skill levels will enjoy the adventure, led by Big Sky wranglers who can explain the basics to beginners, or introduce advanced riders to more exciting terrain.
Big Sky and the surrounding Yellowstone area offer some of the best kayaking in the West. For whitewater thrills, you can’t beat the Gallatin River, with its stunning scenery and challenging rips. You can kayak on mountain lakes or take a guided river expedition. Families can get into the act with kayak clinics geared toward first-timers. You’ll be paddling like a pro in no time.
For the thrill of a lifetime, experience Big Sky whitewater rafting on the Gallatin, Madison and Yellowstone rivers. The wild and scenic Gallatin River rips through spectacular Gallatin Canyon, where experienced river guides navigate safely through challenging whitewater sections. If you prefer a more laid back journey, take the family on a scenic float down one of the Gallatin’s mellower stretches.
Get a bird’s eye view of Big Sky as you fly through the air, ziplining your way to the next spectacular aerial perch. Your kids will love the adrenaline rush of a zip line adventure. Big Sky features courses over the scenic Gallatin River, within the canopy of the Gallatin National Forest, and up top at the foot of Lone Peak Mountain. Sway on tree platforms, soar over the river, and see Big Sky from a whole new perspective.
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