Originally Posted September 2020; Revised and Migrated April 2021
Travel date July 2020
Big Sky Montana is primarily known as a ski destination however summer is a great time to visit. Sadly, we were only able to spend a partial day in the town. But there are so many things to do we could definitely spend a summer weekend in Big Sky. Only about an hour from Yellowstone, it is a great stop to add to your National Park trip.
First Impressions of Big Sky
Big Sky was a small commercialized ski town. The shops were all in matching buildings that looked like ski chalets. I didn’t visit any shops so can’t make any personal recommendations. We were headed to Bozeman to restock our supplies and don’t normally browse around shops since it conflicts with our minimalism goals. I am not tempted by cute handmade goodies if I don’t step foot into the shops.
Camping near Big Sky
Camping is fairly limited in this area and we chose a National Forest campground in Gallatin Canyon. However these were all first come first served during our trip so we couldn’t make reservations. Sadly, all of the spots were already taken when we arrived at lunch.
Traveling full-time requires adaptability. Read our story to learn how we started traveling full time in our 40s. After some discussion, we decided to leave Pippi at a National Forest boat ramp and take our car into Big Sky for the afternoon.
Hiking in Big Sky: Top Things to Do in Summer
Big Sky is a valley nestled into the Madison mountain range. The surrounding mountains offer an abundance of summer hiking.
The mountains surrounding the area were beautiful and we started the afternoon by hiking to Ousel Falls. It is rated the #1 hike in Big Sky and it was a moderate to easy walk to a nice waterfall. The trail is a well-maintained gravel path. The Outside Bozeman blog has more details about the Ousel Falls trail.
I would recommend the Ousel Falls hike if visiting Big Sky in the summer. At the start of the hike, we met another hiker who mentioned the really hot weather. I didn’t laugh in her face but I definitely chuckled after she passed. After many years living in the humidity and heat of the Southeast US, the 75°F 10% humidity on that Montana day felt really nice to us. I did sweat during the hike but nothing like a summer afternoon in the Georgia sun.
Beehive Basin Trail
Beehive Basin Trail has been rated as one of the top ten trails in the world. I don’t usually put a lot of value in ratings like these because oftentimes they are based on tourism board sponsorships. Regardless, I would have definitely hiked the 6.6 mile Beehive Basin trail near Big Sky if we had more time available. Who doesn’t love a mountain meadow walk among wildflowers to a lake?
Bighorn Ridge Disc Golf Course
After Ousel Falls, we decided to try the Bighorn Ridge disc golf course at Big Sky Community Park. You can read more about the course here.
I was not mentally prepared for the demanding terrain of the 18 hole course but thankfully I was still wearing my hiking boots from Ousel Falls. Flatlanders would definitely classify the area as mountains however I think everyone could agree they were at the least very steep hills.
After hole 12, I started getting a bit dizzy and decided my heart rate was high enough that just walking the remainder of the course was sufficient exercise for me. The wildflowers on the course were really nice so I had nice scenery.
Kevin continued to play the entire course on our walk back to the car and by the end of the course, we sacrificed two discs to the course (one into a nearby fenced area and another to a grassy/wooded area). We unsuccessfully searched for the second disc and finally deemed it lost after 20 minutes of searching when our tempers started to run hot.
Beehive Basin in Big Sky
We made a quick stop at Beehive Basin Brewery before leaving Big Sky. They were strictly enforcing social distancing and masks. Thankfully the brewer’s puppy hadn’t heard about social distancing and was happy to play with us on the back patio.
Things to do in Big Sky During Summer
I researched other things to do in Big Sky during the summer and sadly most resources are from Big Sky resorts not personal, unbiased recommendations. If we had more time in Big Sky we would have likely gone mountain biking on the Mountain to Meadow trail at Big Sky Resort.
After a shortstop, we left Big Sky with just a taste of the mountain town. Summer in Big Sky has an abundance of things to do and we would love to explore more of the area’s hiking.