Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky is not a misnomer for the sprawling Montana resort that towers over its surroundings, making skiers feel as though they're at the top of the world when they're just at the top of a lift. Combined with Moonlight Basin – a Lone Peak Pass provides access to both – Big Sky has almost 6,000 acres of wide-open terrain. Because it is located among ranches rather than other resorts, the Montana mountain doesn't suffer from overcrowded lifts or ski-school syndrome (where one finds oneself unexpectedly ankle-deep in tykes). And then there is the powder, which seems to miraculously appear every morning.
While there's not much in the way of rip-roaring nightlife on the mountain, après drinks can be found in the various uniquely Montanan saloons near the slopes. More lively options – such as the Half Moon Saloon – are just a 15-minute drive away in Gallatin. But no nightlife could possibly compare to the daytime scene in nearby Yellowstone Park. Steam rises from thermal paths and sprawling herds of bison roam nonchalantly, while wolf tracks lead into the woods on the heels of bunny paw prints and deer tracks. The whole place looks as though it belongs in a snow globe. And that's kind of where it is.