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. Because it is located among ranches rather than other resorts, the Montana mountain doesn't suffer from overcrowded lifts or runs. And then there is the powder, which seems to miraculously appear every morning. While there's not much in the way of nightlife on the mountain, après drinks can be found in the various uniquely Montanan saloons near the slopes. More lively options – such as the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill – 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.
Where to Stay: Skip attempts at being near the lackluster nightlife and settle for your own cabin. The resort's Cowboy Heaven Cabins ($375 and up) are just a quarter-mile from the lifts and you get your own hot tub, fireplace, and deck with the mountain views that you can only get in Montana.
Inside Tip: Bring your kids. The runs here tend to be intermingled, so while you're challenging yourself on ungroomed terrain or in a glade of trees, your kids can be snowplowing on wide-open groomers, an easy traverse away. What's more, because Big Sky has fewer skiers per acre than any mountain its size, you won't lose track of each other in the process. "All that space gives kids confidence," says Brian Hurlbut, a snowboarder and father of two. "Plus, as a parent you don't have to be worried about finding your kids."