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Big Sky is located approximately midway between West Yellowstone and Bozeman on U.S. Highway 191 and just 15 miles from the northwestern border of Yellowstone National Park.
The “Meadow” area of Big Sky lies in an alpine valley formed during the Cretaceous period. Initially called the “Gallatin Canyon Basin”, the Meadow is braided with small rivers that channel mountain snow run-off. Fishing is permitted on all of these Gallatin feeders. Two ponds are found on the Middle Fork of the Gallatin River that bisects the Meadow, and fishing there is permitted for those 16 and younger. Since 1993, an innovative sewer system has protected the water in the area from sewage discharge. Several agencies, such as the Gallatin River Task Force, monitor the health of the rivers.
The community had two large ski resorts that are sited in the “Mountain” area: Big Sky Resort and Moonlight Basin. In October 2013, these resorts merged: both are now managed by Big Sky Resort, and both are alpine ski and golf resorts. The combined terrain of the two resorts allows them to market themselves as the “Biggest Skiing in America.” The Spanish Peaks Mountain Club is an exclusive ski and golf resort that has three chairlifts and 13 ski runs connecting it to Big Sky Resort at the base of Big Sky’s Southern Comfort lift. Spanish Peaks is also now owned by Big Sky Resort, in collaboration with the Yellowstone Club. Another resort, Lone Mountain Ranch, is a Nordic ski and summer resort that professionally grooms over 75 kilometers of cross-country ski trails. Yellowstone Club, a private resort, is located to the south and adjacent to Big Sky Resort.
Hiking trails thread throughout the landscape and into neighboring national forests. Camping sites are available throughout the Spanish Peaks and the Gallatin National Forest. Elk, deer, black bears, grizzlies, upland birds, waterfowl, and wolves call this area home. Hunting is prohibited in Big Sky proper, but it is permitted throughout the National Forests that surround the area. Recreational snowmobiling is also not permitted within the Meadow or Mountain terrain, but is permitted in the Gallatin Canyon and in areas to the south of Big Sky.
Big Sky offers a variety of recreational venues. In addition to outdoor activities, the Lone Peak Cinema movie theater shows current blockbuster films. The Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, a community and school-based facility, is located at the school on US Highway 191. The venue attracts local, national, and international artists in every genre (music, drama, dance, visual arts, and creative composition). Known to locals as the WMPAC, the center is home to the Big Sky Community Chorus, the Big Sky Community Theater, and Big Sky Broadway, a children’s musical theater company. During the summer, the Arts Council of Big Sky presents weekly free music concerts with musicians from across the nation at Center Stage in Town Center Park. Each August, the Arts Council holds a four-day classical music festival. A wide variety of music can be heard year-round at the resorts and local restaurants and bars. Several art galleries feature local and regional photography and other visual media.
In mid-summer, Big Sky hosts the Big Sky PBR (Professional Bull Riders) event. The Big Sky Farmers Market features live music, children’s activities, and over 90 vendors selling fresh, locally-grown food, and crafts each Wednesday during the summer months in Town Center’s Fire Pit Park. In the winter months, Town Center Park hosts Big Sky’s hockey and ice skating rink that is operated by the Big Sky Skating and Hockey Association.