If you have been following me on Snapchat (themilleraffect), you got to see first hand the beauty I witnessed in Big Sky, Montana last week. I do not even know where to start, except to say I am sad I did not think of this wedding venue first! Here are some Big Sky Montana tips and things you definitely should know before you travel there.
Get this top at Jess Lea Boutique
View from Riverhouse Grill
View from Lone Mountain Ranch
Get this Flynn Skye dress here
Lone Mountain Ranch
1. Packing. I looked up the 10 day forecast before I started packing and it totally stressed me out! In the summer, the weather can drop or raise 40 degrees in an hour! The lows were in the lower 40s with the highs up near 80-85 degrees! You want to make sure you can be outdoors at all times (it is so beautiful and smells like wood and pine trees 24/7) so don’t miss out because you aren’t dressed appropriately.
Pack heavy: If you are staying more than 3 days, definitely bring a large suitcase.
Pack a winter outfit and a summer outfit for every day (if it rains during the day, it won’t get warm at all).
Pack rain boots. Everyone loved that I brought my rain boots and wished they would have thought of it as well.
Pack athletic clothes. You have tons of daily activities to choose from, but all of them take place outdoors. Pack something you can hike in, ride a horse in, and go fishing in!
Pack a jacket. I packed a sweater and a thin cargo jacket and it wasn’t warm enough. Take it with you everywhere. I went hiking and it was really warm and by the end it was raining and we were soaked and freezing cold.
Pack boots. Big Sky is country. It is the sticks. Pack cowboy boots. Small heels are a no no here as you won’t find very many paved walkways. Wedges of course work too if you are needing something a little dressier.
2. Lodging. We stayed with the rest of the wedding party at Rainbow Ranch. I highly suggest staying in Gallatin in the summer (a couple miles from Big Sky and where Rainbow Ranch is located). Our room was right on the river and we had the cutest balcony. We opened up our windows at night and listened to the stream. Every room there also had a fireplace, and yes, it does get cold enough to light the fire.
AC. Rainbow Ranch does not have AC. I like my room cold, and was upset at first when I saw there wasn’t an AC option, but keeping the windows open at night was definitely enough!
Spa. Rainbow Ranch doesn’t have a spa. It looks like they do on the map, but that is actually a hot tub!
Bar. Their bar opens at 4 every day. We had to walk across the street to the Corral if we wanted something any earlier.
Food. They serve breakfast and dinner, no lunch.
Other than those minor things, Rainbow Ranch is definitely the place to stay. Make sure when you book that you book the riverfront! I could basically sit out on the balcony and watch the river flow all day every day there! If you stay up in Big Sky, you have a great view from the top, but are not on the river. It is also much more crowded up there and it was nice and quiet down here in Gallatin!
3. Restaurants and Bars.
Lone Peak Brewery. We loved it here! You will find this brewery on your way up the mountain to Big Sky. They brew their own beer and it was all delicious. They are known for a beer that they age in a bourbon barrel. You can definitely taste the bourbon in it! They serve flights for you to sample so naturally we got the 9 flight. Each sample was 4oz and ranged from the least amount of alcohol (4) to the highest % of alcohol (8.25). Naturally, we were feeling pretty good when we left there. They also had shuffle board so I got to whoop T before we headed out.
Riverhouse Grill. Riverhouse opens at 3pm daily and is less than a mile from Rainbow Ranch in Gallatin. It is located on the river and they have about every single bar game you can think of (ping pong, buck hunter, pool, darts) and outside they have a sand volleyball court, corn hole, and horseshoes. T and I are so competitive so we found ourselves at the Riverhouse a few times! They serve amazing BBQ and have a full-service bar. You can rent out the entire thing for a private event.
Bugaboo Cafe. This cafe was OK, but not really worth the wait. It took us awhile to get our food and it was good, but we would have rather been sitting outside. It is hard waiting an hour and a half to eat with a place without a balcony in Montana. You want to be outside at all times! It is located at the bottom of the road that takes you up to Big Sky.
Corral. This is a MUST during your stay in Big Sky. We stayed away from it the first couple of days because it appeared like it was just a biker bar. When we walked in we immediately felt warm and cozy. The walls are covered with stuffed animals (moose, deer, elk, bear, etc) and college memorabilia. Everything inside is made of wood and you can open the windows or sit out on the balcony. The food was amazing (we recommend the ham and cheese sandwich and the strawberry-rhubarb pie! This restaurant is located across the street from Rainbow Ranch. It is also open until 2, so it is a great place to hang out late night!
Things To Do:
Hiking. There are so many trails to hike on, but the two most popular are Ousel Falls and Lava Lake. Ousel Falls is perfect for those of us who don’t work out that often. It is only .8 miles and it takes you to the top AND bottom of a beautiful waterfall. It has a gravel pathway, so you can go even when it has been raining outside. Give yourself 2 hours to explore this hike. Lava lake is about 3 miles each way, so we didn’t make it to that one. I heard it is so beautiful though. You hike pretty much straight uphill the entire time, but the scenery is amazing. Give yourself at least 4 hours for this hike.
Yellowstone. Yellowstone is only about 45 miles away from Gallatin. We were definitely planning on making it over there, but we heard from numerous people that you need about 12 hours in order to enjoy Yellowstone. T was in a wedding, so we never had a full day to get this done. Summer is peak season for Yellowstone, so it takes about 2 hours just to get into the park. Once in though, Old Faithful is only about 45 min away. I would definitely recommend going if you have the time. Apparently a man’s remains were just found with some bears in Yellowstone according to the news today, so make sure you stay FAR away (about 100 yards) from the wildlife!
Fishing. The rivers in Big Sky are full of fish, and whether you are a beginner or you are experienced, you definitely want to get out on the water and try your luck with fly fishing. We waiting too long to book with a guide, and ended up booking a 4 hour guide the day before we left. It rained a lot the previous day, and when we woke up that morning to fish the waters were really muddy. When we got to Gallatin River Guides, they were honest and told us the quality of fishing for beginners in that water would be slim to none. They gave us the option to still go out there or to take a refund. We are definitely going back there. They could have easily taken our money, but instead were honest and gave us the choice.
Horseback Riding. We didn’t get a chance to do this either, but it is definitely something you should check our if you like to ride. Just make sure you have around 4 hours.
Explore. Take some time to drive around and explore the town. We went and shopped a little and drove up the mountain to check out the lodge. The view is unbelievable. You can also pay a small amount and take the ski lift up to the top!
Kayaking, Tubing, and White Water Rafting. These are some great options. The wedding party did a big tubing excursion (with their kids) the morning we arrived. They said it was cold towards the end, but they all had a great time. They left at 8:30 am that morning and didn’t get back until 4:30, so plan on it being an all day thing!
I really hope these Big Sky tips help you when planning your vacation. Stay as long as you can! Four days were definitely not enough for us and we wish we had a few more days at least! Try not to take an early flight out of there. It is an hour to the airport and you need to be there two hours in advance. We had to leave at 4am and it really put a damper on our trip.