Big Sky Winter Journeys

Happy New Year everyone!!! I hope 2017 is feeling wonderfully expansive,  supportive & wildly intentional for an amazing year ahead! I just returned home from a snowy vacation full of Big Sky, Montana exploration and some much-needed restorative down time.  Ringing in the New Year in unchartered land for me offers expansion and openness to dream into the unknown. This New Year’s Eve, I decided to go to Montana during the winter for the first time and oh what a wintry wonderland journey it was…

My husband and I are winter adventure enthusiasts – snowboarding, hiking fishing, and we’ve even tried snow shoeing…we love to get out in nature when the white fluff falls.  Have you noticed that when it’s snowing how truly quiet it becomes?  It’s almost as if time stops; there is a stillness that just holds a sort of introspective space. Living full-time in AZ also invokes the desire for us to get out and explore new wintry destinations.  When I was “feeling” into where to go for our New Year trip, I was drawn to Montana.  I journeyed there with my husband last July for the first time and fell in love with the land and wildlife. Glacier National Park is astonishingly wondrous! I thought…we should explore Montana in the winter.  Big Sky Resort was calling to us for snowboarding, BAM…that’s where I started to look for places to stay.  I came across a historic homestead called Rainbow Ranch Lodge located in the Gallatin Valley just 10-12 min from Big Sky Resort.

Since it was our first time to Big Sky,  it took some time to navigate on where to explore.  My intention for this blog post is to create a little road map on  special places where we’ve connected and hope you will too; from the rustic charm of Rainbow Ranch Lodge, to the vastness of Big Sky Resort, to some yummy local restaurants full of Montana character.  We even found an awesome yoga studio with grounding energy & beautiful views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains. Below is some detailed information on our Montana Journey; which I hope may be useful and offer some guidance if Big Sky, Montana is calling to you.

Rainbow Ranch Lodge: Nestled along the Gallatin River and surrounded by Rocky Mountains. Rainbow Ranch was originally built in 1919 and named “The Halfway Inn” because of its location halfway between Bozeman and West Yellowstone; RR Lodge has undergone many changes in its 90+ year life. Rainbow Ranch Lodge now is an award winning, luxury lodge resort that combines the rugged West with high quality amenities and recreation under the Big Sky.  www.rainbowranchbigsky.com

In the spirit of full disclosure: Once I found RR Lodge I did reach out to them and asked if they were interested in having RR Lodge reviewed & shared on my travel/lifestyle blog.  They kindly said yes, I  did receive a discounted room rate. Please note these are 100% my personal opinions & experiences. 

Ermine Suite: This will be my requested room every time I come back to stay at RR Lodge.  The Ermine suite is a large 2 room suite, with a cozy family room and bedroom that you can close off.  There is nothing I love better than the sound, warmth and glow of a real wood burning fireplace. Ermine has 3 wood burning fireplaces, one outside on the deck, one in the family room and the third fireplace located in the bedroom, this one we used the most every morning and night.  The bed was heavenly, not too hard or soft, truly just right, also wrapped in beautiful bed linens.  Ermine Suite Bathroom: was our own little private sanctuary spa.  With heated wood floors and rustic wood paneled walls, ample storage and a big soaking tub for two. The shower is wonderfully large and has a rain shower head with really good water pressure. www.rainbowranchbigsky.comRainbow Ranch Lodge nightly sweet treat:  Every evening RR Lodge brings freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to your room… ensuring sweet dreams for bed time.  Loved this thoughtful and yummy touch.

Rainbow Ranch Hot Tub: This is a restorative place at RR Lodge that must be embraced!  The spa has a negative edge, where the hot water seamlessly flows out and down river rock, truly feels as if you’re one with nature. It was 8pm when we took our soak in the spa, the snow was falling softly and the warm water soothed our achy muscles. The spa is large with plenty of space to swim and soak up the soul embracing energy. The hot tub area also has a huge wood burning fireplace; we didn’t use it as the snowfall was our ambiance. Next time we stay we will certainly build a roaring fire and enjoy the hot tub under the big starry lit sky! Highly recommend experiencing this added lux amenity if you stay at RR.

Breakfast Continental: Continental breakfast is served 7-days a week. This was a wonderful treat to have a nice hearty breakfast before heading out for our Big Sky snow adventures.  RR offers the breakfast staples, warm oatmeal, buttery waffles, sausage, fresh cut fruit, granola, bagels and English muffins. www.rainbowranchbigsky.com

Big Sky Mountain Resort: Well the name says it all… this is one BIG mountain! We snowboarded two days here and probably only covered 20% of the mountain.  The terrain is awesome and the mountain has 2295 acres of beginner/intermediate & 3515 acres of advanced/expert. Notably the Lone Peak terrain is a different world of steep shoots certainly not my level of boarding but super fun to watch the extreme experts ride down.  You can take the tram to Lone Peak (basically the top of the world) the views are outrageous!!! You can simply hop back on the tram so you don’t have to ride down the steep and deep terrain.  www.bigskyresort.com

Notable New Lift- Powder Seeker Six Place Lift:  This new lift opened late in 2016.  I call her the “blue bubble”, because there is a protective blue shield that slides over the chair in route up the mountain.  This cover protects you from the snow and wind, super nice.  Now I haven’t even mentioned the best part… the chair seats are heated!!! Yes you heard me correct, heated, toasty and warm and cozy cushioned seats for your bum!  The Powder Seeker is a treat on a bitter cold Big Sky, Montana day.  Powder Seeker Lift photo credit, courtesy of Big Sky Resort.

“The Biggest Skiing in America is the sensation of endless terrain under an expansive big sky”- Big Sky Resort

While on the mountain be sure to visit the new Everett’s 8800: Everett’s Restaurant is a beautiful blend of modern/rustic lodge style, serving American Alpine Fare at the top of Andesite Mountain. With spectacular views of Lone Peak Mountain with indoor/outdoor fireplaces. Awesome place to warm up mid-day and satiate your appetite after riding the Big Sky mountains.   Ben and I shared the French onion soup…YUM!!! So warm and cozy packed with caramelized onions and creamy sharp parmesan goodness.  I also ordered the hot apple spiced cocktail, yep add that to your order if you make there! www.bigskyresort.com/everetts-8800

Gallatin National Forest hike: Twin Cabin Trail Head located directly behind RR Lodge. We had a wonderful hike thru the snowy forest.  With a decent incline up into the Mountians, this hike is perfect to get out in nature & get your heart rate up.  We took about a 2 hour hike and it was so beautiful and peaceful.  Was fun to notice all the animal footprints in the snow. Once we got up to the top vista we laid in the snow and took in the views.  The snow offered a perfect & supportive seat for our tired bodies. There was no wind and no noise. I remember Ben asking me… Do you hear that? I said, do I hear what, he said, “it’s so quiet, it’s like there is a sound to the silence”.  I closed my eyes and listened, there it was, sounded like a light vibrational hum.  Silence does carry a tune, a peaceful nuance that simply envelops your heart & soul. www.nationalforests.org

“I closed my eyes and listened, there it was, sounded like a light vibrational hum.  Silence does carry a tune, a peaceful nuance that simply envelops your heart & soul.”

Yoga/massage- Santosha Wellness Center: Santosha is a beautiful grounding space located in Big Sky.  Wide range of yoga classes offered and a great little local retail shop that carries hand-crafted artisan goods and essential oils.  Ben and I also had really amazing massages there. Again, highly recommend. www.santoshabigsky.com

Recommended Big Sky local restaurants:

  • Gallatin Riverhouse Grill: fun local bar full of some good old SOUL food, BBQ style! I had the BBQ Spud with grilled chicken, I have to say it was tasty! A baked potato with all your normal fixins including BBQ grilled chicken breast – go for it if you’re looking for something lighter. We also had the fried okra for the app, super yummy. Ben got a big BBQ platter, he enjoyed it all, and the corn bread melts in your mouth! www.gallatinriverhousegrill.com
  • Corral Bar: Steakhouse: Located directly across from Rainbow Ranch you can walk right over for a good burger and to watch a football game! Good local burger joint. www.corralbar.com
  • Everett’s 8800: Located in Big Sky Resort 8800 ft. in elevation with modern yet rustic log cabin ambiance, expansive views and yummy food. www.bigskyresort.com/everetts-8800
  • Rainbow Ranch Bar&Restaurant: Montana ranch-to-table cuisine and a memorable dining experience unique to Big Sky country. www.rainbowranchbigsky.com

The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center: Located in West Yellowstone, MT.  The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is an AZA accredited Not-for-Profit, wildlife park and educational facility. The Center offers every visitor to Yellowstone a chance to uniquely experience the world of grizzly bears and gray wolves. All the animals at the Grizzly & Wolf Discover Center are unable to survive in the wild and serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts. www.grizzlydiscoveryctr.org

Next blog post will be on the second chapter of our winter journey, Jackson Hole, Wyoming!  Super excited to share about Jackson, we drove thru Yellowstone, then Idaho to WY.  Drive from RR was about 3 hours and absolutely gorgeous.  More on Jackson Hole journeys to come… stay tuned!

“Wyoming is where the untamed spirit of the West and majestic natural beauty open your mind and invigorate your senses to release your own inner freedom and sense of adventure.”- www.travelwyoming.com

“Life isn’t to be mastered. Life is to be experienced.”

With love & gratitude,

Stacey

3 Comments

  • Reply Alexis January 29, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Beautiful as always, I could almost feel the snow packed quietness of the lodge. Can’t wait to experience Montana, thank you Stacey!!

  • Reply Marla Matson-Quattrone January 31, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you for sharing your winter wonderland with us—if I close my eyes, and open my ears, I can hear your ‘sound of silence’.

    • Reply Stacey Leigh Barnes February 19, 2017 at 4:53 am

      Hi Marla, thank you for your reflection on the “sound of silence”… beautiful words of connection. xoxo

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