Big Sky, MT in winter

After having the opportunity to see Big Sky during the summer, we HAD to see it in the winter!

We chose February due to a lot of March and April plans for our group of 8. Traveling with others can oftentimes be difficult, so be sure to pick the right people! We will happily do this adventure again with this crew.

Day 1

6 of us flew together from Florida and 2 from Maryland. We were able to coordinate flight times and land in Bozeman within 30 minutes of each other, so it worked out great. We rented 2 Toyota 4Runners with AWD to be sure we’d make it up the mountain to our rental house in Moonlight Basin. The rental car counter was PACKED so always have your rental car reserved in advance!

One car headed straight for Big Sky to pick up rental gear and the other went to the Albertson’s in Bozeman to grocery shop for the week. The drive from Bozeman to Big Sky is about an hour. It snowed the entire time so we were a little slow (typical Floridians). We cooked at the house for dinner and had a great time catching up.

It also snowed all night, which made for lots of powder in the morning!

Day 2

The varying skill levels amongst our friends were perfect so that we could break up into groups on the mountain. 3 of us took lessons, 1 group went straight to the top, and another hung out on the greens. Half of us called it a day at lunch time and made our way back to the house so we could lounge in the hot tub. The other half stayed out all day.

That night was Super Bowl and we made allllll the food and relaxed at the house.

Day 3

The next day, half of us went dog sledding! This was my first time and I was in heaven. The powdery snow, the gorgeous pines covered in it, and THE DOGS! It seriously looked like we were in Narnia. The guide that I had was the best. He was so laid back and funny – it made the excursion even more fun. Half way through, they stopped and gave us cookies and hot chocolate – something we weren’t expecting!

After our excursion, we went straight back to the hot tub! For dinner, we picked up Riverhouse BBQ.

Day 4

After being separated for a day, the entire group went snowmobiling together. We followed a trail for about 6 miles that brought us to a wide open meadow. The guides let us go free and we got to race around as fast as we wanted. For most of us, it was our first time and we all had a blast! A few flipped their sleds but the guides were there to help.

The guys decided that it was their turn to cook dinner that night. They made pesto gnocchi with broccoli & red peppers (fancy schmancy).

Day 5

Mountain day! The less skilled group hung out at Madison Base and rode the greens. The skilled group went all the way to Loan Peak!

That night, we ordered from Ousel & Spur Pizza and celebrated two birthdays in our group with cakes from Blue Moon Bakery.

Day 6

Last mountain day! And the coldest I’ve ever been…. it was -1o – my hair, goggles, and eyelashes froze.

We made tacos for dinner and enjoyed our last night in Big Sky together. It was an incredible week spent with an incredible group of friends.

I’ve now been to Big Sky in the summer and in the winter. I’m in love with both seasons and recommend you try to experience both too!

Snowboarding lessons

Dog Sledding booked through Spirit of the North

Snowmobiling booked through Canyon Adventures

Rental gear through Grizzly Outfitters

Riverhouse BBQ

Ousel & Spur Pizza Co.

Blue Moon Bakery

Big Sky, MT in summer

Big Sky. Have you heard of it? Have you been? I have and I’m in love.

Like everyone else, our 2020 plans were thrown for a loop. After getting a little too stir crazy, we finally booked an Airbnb and drove to the Boone area in July 2020. Right before we left, a client of my husbands called and asked if we wanted to use his cabin in the Moonlight Basin area of Big Sky, after he and his family leave for the summer. Um, YES PLEASE! It was just 3 weeks after our return from the mountains, but we had a lot of vacation time and weren’t upset about 2 vacations in a row!

We were supposed to be in Big Sky to snowboard in March of 2020, but that was right as the world was coming to a halt, so it was cancelled. Having the opportunity to visit in the summer was something we didn’t want to pass up! We weren’t quite ready for the little one to fly that far during the pandemic so this was a mom and dad trip (which we desperately needed).

Our flight left on a Saturday, we landed in Bozeman, and picked up our rental car. Our car had 4WD, but we didn’t need it in the summer. The drive to Big Sky is about an hour from the airport. If you’re looking to save money on groceries for your trip, stop at the Albertson’s in Bozeman before heading south. There is a great market in the Meadow area of town, but it is definitely more pricey.

Day 1

Our morning began with a beautiful and easy hike to Ousel Falls. We’re early birds, so we were the only ones there for quite a while. I imagine the trail will be much busier as the day goes on. For these Floridians, it was a bit chilly.

Ousel Falls

Later in the afternoon, we went to Loan Peak! Elevation 11,166 feet – the views were amazing!

Loan Peak

Day 2

Day 2 started with archery, which I’ve never done. I wasn’t terrible, but I certainly wasn’t good. It was a lot of fun and a good arm workout! The weather was perfect – beautiful blue skies and moderate temperatures.

Later, we made our way back down to base and went ziplining. Due to precautionary measures in place, all tours were private so it was just us and the guides.

Day 3

We tried our hand at fly fishing…. and did not do well. The guide felt terrible but we still had a great time! Everywhere he took us was gorgeous and it was just so much fun being outside all day. Plus, we looked really good in those waders.

It was a long day so we spent the rest of the afternoon in the hot tub at the cabin.

Doesn’t this view look fake? It was incredible.

Day 4

My favorite – horseback riding! I’m not a good rider, but I love it! The tour was so great and so incredibly beautiful, just like everything in Big Sky.

Later that day, we went to Porcupine Trail. A local resident recommended this hike since it’s typically not crowded. We only passed a few other people and had the trail all to ourselves for most of the afternoon. There is not much shade on this trail so definitely wear a hat and sunscreen!

Day 5

Cameron and I were up before the sun so we decided to take on the Beehive Basin hike. It is 6.6 miles roundtrip. Some parts were easy and some were strenuous (AllTrails rates the hike Moderate). If you plan to go, start early, take your time, and pack/wear layers. It was beautiful and worth the time we spent on the trail! When we were approaching the end, we saw some families with small children attempting to start the hike. Not sure if they made it…I wouldn’t recommend this one for littles.

Our final activity of the week was whitewater kayaking! We’ve always wanted to go whitewater rafting but saw that kayaking was available and sounded like a great time. We LOVED it! I can’t say that enough. If you’ve never tried, please do. It was so thrilling and fun! Cameron tipped in one of the rapids and fell out, but I stayed upright the entire time! The tour company had a photographer on the bank of the river to capture some really fun moments for us.

On day 6, we flew home to our little one. We both agreed that we can’t wait to bring her to Big Sky when she’s a bit older!

Double rainbow after a quick rain shower

Loan Peak, Archery, and Ziplining were booked through Big Sky Resort

Fly Fishing booked through Wild Trout Outfitters

Horseback Riding booked through Canyon Adventures

Whitewater Kayking booked through Geyser Whitewater Expeditions

Yellowstone & Grand Teton

How did we pick this trip? Cam and I had so much fun on our hiking trip in Arizona that we wanted to do something similar. Our original plan was The Mighty 5 in Utah, but when looking at flight prices and other accomodations, we opted to visit these two magnificent parks!

Day 1

We left on a Friday and flew from Tampa to Salt Lake City via Southwest Airlines. Our connecting flight out of Phoenix ended up being delayed so we didn’t arrive in SLC until around 5:00 PM. Our good friends, Brett and Carolyn, were with us and Carolyn used her Hertz points to rent our car for free! They gave us a Chevy Traverse which ended up being perfect for 4 people and 4 suitcases. Instead of staying the night and taking it easy after a long day of travel, we went straight to West Yellowstone (about a 5 hour drive). Thank goodness for Carolyn and her determination! She drove the whole way. We made it to Moose Creek Inn around 11:00 PM and all went straight to bed!

The easiest way to visit West Yellowstone is to fly into the Bozeman, MT airport (BZN). Again, when looking at prices and flight options, we chose SLC. It was a much longer drive, but we all had Southwest points to use and they don’t fly into BZN.

Day 2

The next morning we were feeling refreshed and ready to see Yellowstone! We had breakfast and bought boxed lunches from Ernie’s, ran around like crazy Floridians when flurries started falling, filled up the gas tank, and were off to the park! *Brett packed a hot/cold bag to keep our lunches in throughout the day with a bag of ice from the hotel.*

The entrance fee for Yellowstone is $35 per car and is valid for an entire week. You could also use your America the Beautiful Pass! The ranger will let you know of any road closings so be flexible with which routes you want to take each day if visiting at the beginning of the season like we did. The route we were planning to take had a road closed due to snow so we went with plan B and saw all of the geysers on day 1.

It was cold and snowy/rainy but that made the steam on all of the geysers extra dramatic and really cool to see! We also had the opportunity to see some bison and elk up close.

After seeing Old Faithful, we called it a day around 2:30 PM and started making our way back to Moose Creek to catch up on a little sleep. We all napped for a bit and then went out to walk the shops and have dinner at Madison Crossing We all ordered different meals and appetizers to try. My favorite were the bison nachos and bison meatloaf!

Day 3

The next day, we started at Ernie’s again for breakfast and our boxed lunches. Then we decided to make our way all the way to Lamar Valley. There were tons of beautiful stops along the way so it took us a few hours to get there.

Lamar Valley is known for animal viewing. But what we found out is that you need to be there EARLY and be willing to stay in the same spot all day long and hope for the best. We thought it would be easier than that because we were spoiled by our African Safari trip. You also need a good scope or camera lens because not every sighting will be close. Our 200 mm lenses were really sad compared to the gear we saw! We were lucky enough to see a sleeping black bear on the way, so it was still a great day for us!

We enjoyed the gorgeous views of the valley and then started to make our way back, with lots of pit stops in between.

We got back to Moose Creek around 4:00 PM and followed our same routine. Quick nap (for me at least) then out to dinner at Wild West Pizza so that we could watch a hockey game.

Day 4

On our 3rd day in the park, we took the route that had been closed on Saturday but was now open. There was so much snow so we now understood why it had been closed! We didn’t have an itinerary or destination in mind. We just drove around and stopped for all of the pretty views.

At one point in the day, we saw a lot of cars pulled over and big scopes and cameras set up. We pulled over and asked a gentleman what they were looking at. He let us all look through his scope and we were able to see a mama grizzly and one of her cubs! *Tip: those with scopes are more approachable and talkative. The folks with large cameras are most likely working.*

We ended our day around 4:00 PM again and had dinner at Taqueria Las Palmitas – It was a nice and sunny afternoon so perfect opportunity to sit outside and try this taco bus! It was delicious! After dinner we walked around to a few more shops and then ended our night at Arrowleaf Ice Cream. The ice cream is made fresh when you order and soooooo good! My recommendation is vanilla and huckleberry. My husband is usually all about chocolate but he wouldn’t stop stealing mine!

Day 5

On our final day, we checked out of Moose Creek, had breakfast and ordered boxed lunches, then started making our way to Grand Teton through Yellowstone.

We stayed in Jackson at the Rustic Inn for our two nights at Grand Teton. It was only 20 minutes from the park entrance, really nice, just a few minutes from downtown Jackson, and included breakfast.

We didn’t check in until around 4:00 PM so we all unpacked, got settled, and then got a ride to the square for shopping and dinner at Hatch Taqueria. It was Taco Tuesday! Cam and I each ordered two different tacos and Mexican street corn. All were delicious!

Day 6

The next morning, we had a float tour with Solitude Float Tours. It was a very relaxing trip with amazing views. And we were finally able to see a MOOSE! This was a huge deal to Carolyn and me because we have looked for moose in many states and never had any luck.

After the tour, we ate our sandwiches from Creekside Market and we drove to the Lupine trailhead for Hidden Falls. Just a little ways into the hike, we saw baby bears in the distance! It was so much fun to sit and watch them.

We all loved this hike and recommend! After we got back to the hotel and everyone was ready for dinner, we made our way to Snake River Brewing. We ordered apps and dessert to start (you HAVE to get the cream puffs).

Then we walked around town for a bit and eventually ended up at Moe’s Original BBQ for good food and shuffleboard. One platter was PLENTY for Cam and I to share since we had already had apps and dessert earlier.

Day 7

On Thursday morning, we woke up early and did the Taggart Lake Trail and got to see a mama and baby moose! Our favorite part of the hike was seeing the mountain reflection on the lake so go early to catch it. After we were back and ready to go, we started our 5 hour trek back to Salt Lake City!

Snake River Roadhouse in Swan Valley was a good stopping point for lunch and a stretch break.

We stayed at an Airbnb for the night, ordered pizza, and watched hockey.

Day 8

On Friday morning, it was back to Tampa!