Wouldn’t you know we had to drive through Yellowstone National Park to get to Big Sky, Montana! We’ve driven through so many national parks and forests, but they don’t get old seeing so much natural beauty! We looked like the Clampetts unloading at the lodge. Even though you only need about 10 days’ worth of clothing, it’s all bulky clothing plus a dog and his belongings. Thankfully there are drawers to put our belongings in so we don’t have to keep everything in suitcases. We’ve had four different types of lodging on our trip…a condo in a tiny ski town, a hotel in downtown, a house in urban living and now a hotel at the resort.
We started our time in Big Sky by hiking Ousel Falls Trail to a frozen waterfall. Hiking in the winter means ice but thankfully the concierge’s recommended we bring our ski poles which was a huge help. Tally enjoyed it too! Cory had so much fun sharing winter hiking tips with the kids just like his daddy did for him growing up. We planned to ice skate for the afternoon, but it’s been so warm lately that the rink was closed. It didn’t open again during our stay. Bummer! There is a super cute town square that we walked around.
Next, we found an après ski dance party going on at the base of Big Sky. Well, Teddy doesn’t pass up a chance to dance and found his own dance floor on the snow away from the crowd and got some compliments from people who enjoyed watching him. He was dancing in his own little world! A few days later, we discovered a video of the party and Teddy dancing had been posted on Jerry of the Day. That tickled him so much! So of course, when we found this same party the next weekend, Teddy was so happy! He immediately jumped back up to his spot on the snow to dance. People recognized him from the video, and he was the life of the party…at 7 years old! He even was asked by a cute girl to come join everyone dancing, which, of course, he did (after asking if that was ok…cute thing!) He was requested to hop up on the stairwell so all could see him again; the crowd cheered as he danced, and Teddy ate it up! People were high-fiving Teddy afterward! He acted like it was just another day which is true cause he just dances to his own beat and wherever he wants.
Back to our regularly scheduled skiing…we got some much-needed snow our third day there. Big Sky hadn’t seen snow in a month! It’s been a consistent theme this season with everyone getting way less snow than they usually do. First thing we hit the new Swift Current lift which we knew about as our family friend was the project manager for the build back in the fall. It is so fancy with segmented, cushioned and heated seats and a cover that automatically went up when we were about to hop off the lift. Thanks, Reto! We had an amazing day playing in the powder as it dumped snow the whole day! We dropped down into the Forbidden Forest, which you can imagine is full of trees, that put us to the Challenger lift that is experts only… aka only black diamonds and up. I was a bit nervous because of the white out conditions but the kids rocked it! Your legs tire easier on powder days especially when you take mostly mogul runs…but it’s totally worth it! The best solution for that is the hot tub and a heated pool for the kids.
As the week went along, it got warmer, so we hit the back side of Lone Mountain (which is their big peak at the resort that has triple black diamond runs…maybe next year!) where it’s gotten icy in the mornings but softened up as the day went along. The best part is hardly anyone was there so we all but had the mountain to ourselves! We’ve had a variety of snow conditions to ski in which I feel like has made us quite adaptable. Our final days skiing became slushy, so we didn’t ski long. However, we found a race course and all took a turn. It was the best way to cap off our ski adventures; what a rush!
Cory is still working while we’re in Montana, so the kids and I took a day and drove to Bozeman; what a beautiful drive (a little over an hour away) of winding roads and babbling brooks with a few people fishing. A recommendation from Teddy’s first grade teacher, our destination was Museum of the Rockies. Located right beside Montana State University, this museum has great dinosaur exhibits, Taylor Planetarium and a couple of interactive kids’ section. We listened to an engaging talk about what we could specifically see in the ‘Montana Skies’ that very evening. Explore Yellowstone was geared to younger kids but we enjoyed it because of the creatively made animals and geological education. Along with Explore Yellowstone, their other favorite exhibit was Human Plus where they became engineers to solve real lives’ physical challenges. Still in the heart of campus, we enjoyed a flavorful lunch at Tacos Montes.
Being in a hotel, you eat most meals out, we though did have a handful of sandwiches in the room meals, so here are our recommendations.
Tips Up– Very decorated in ski gear, this funky restaurant had yummy chicken dishes.
Riverhouse BBQ– This Texan owned restaurant knew how to make his fried chicken, ribs and fried okra taste delicious.
The Cabin– At this upscale restaurant, we had juicy wild game (bison and elk) and pork shank.
Chet’s– Breakfast was included so we ate here every morning but as Teddy said, “dinner was way better than their breakfast.” Their buffalo chili, ribeye, pork chops and chicken orzo were quite tasty!
Westward Social– A nicer lunch option at the base of the mountain. There isn’t a kids’ menu but ours figured it out with a charcuterie board and nachos.
Montana Jack’s– A staple at the base of the mountain serves good, basic bar food.
We have enjoyed a variety of wildlife on our trip including seeing a red fox late one night at the base of the mountain. We woke the kids to see him. Tally was quite interested in him and vice versa. When Tally sat, the fox sat! The fox was just starting to turn back red from his winter white coat.
Aside from skiing, animals were a part of our theme so we couldn’t pass up Safari Yellowstone with Yellowstone’s first Safari guide of 29 years, Carl Zeiss. Unfortunately, it was a bit more of a trek than it should’ve been because they close some entrances after mid-March. We drove to Livingston (1hr 30 min drive) to meet Carl then another 45 min to the park entrance. The animal party started before we even got to the entrance though seeing white-tailed deer (which are common for us anyway), mule deer and elk. I had never seen mule deer; they get their name honestly with their big ears. Into the park and bison are running beside our vehicle. It was SO cool and a bit nerve racking! We stopped a few times along the way to see big horn sheep, mountain goats, grey wolves and black bear. Wolves were reintroduced to the park 25 years ago so they’re the main attraction to find in the park. Our guide also knew where to find the momma black bear’s den. She and her cubs had been out earlier in the week, but it was so cool to see her laying down at the edge of her den protecting her cubs. The cubs will stay with her until they turn one in June. We also saw a bald and golden eagles. Our ski trip has been filled with amazing snow, unique animals and even better family time!
Our trip is winding down and so are we. As with every trip, you get a bit tired toward the end as you know what’s coming. Funny enough, we asked the kids where their favorite two ski resorts that we’ve skied this year and they both said Grand Targhee and Winter Park. Cory and I agree! It’s a super long drive home; however, we’re going to split it up by cutting our time in Big Sky short since the snow is melting and to have a day to enjoy Driggs, ID. It’s the tiny town (with one stop light) by Grand Targhee. We found a quaint brunch spot, Provision, to eat in upon arrival. For supper we found out one of our favorite spots in Jackson has a sister restaurant in Driggs… Teton Thai. Whoo hoo! On our way out of town the next morning, we grabbed one of the best breakfast burritos we’ve ever had at Rise Coffee House. Who knew a town that small could have so many good eateries!
The long drive home consisted of the following states: Montana – Idaho – Wyoming – Nebraska – Iowa – Missouri – Arkansas – Tennessee – Mississippi…and finally home to Alabama!