Changing Seasons

The days have gotten shorter, colder and whiter, and winter has finally fallen over Bozeman. While certain out-of-staters and warm-weather lovers cringe at the thought of below-zero temperatures and snow tires, skiers and snowboarders are gearing up for the long-anticipated winter season.

Big Sky’s lifts have been turning since last Thursday, and Bridger Bowl’s start this Friday, Dec. 6. Though both have average early season snow conditions, the National Weather Service has predicted higher than average snowfall for this season in the Northern Rockies. Skiers and riders can expect both Bridger and Big Sky to be a little larger and different, from when they closed last season.

Big Sky surpassed Vail Mountain Resort in Colorado to officially live up to its slogan as “the biggest skiing in America” after its owner, Boyne Resorts, acquired Moonlight Basin this past August. This upcoming season the two resorts, along with the Spanish Peaks area purchased by Boyne earlier this year, will operate as one.

According to a statement issued by Boyne, Big Sky’s skiable terrain will expand to a massive 5,700 acres. The three areas combined will create a ski resort with 23 chairlifts providing access to 4,350 vertical feet of in-bounds terrain. Boyne plans to further develop all three areas in the coming years, perhaps adding more lifts, warming huts and restaurants to accommodate the anticipated influx of skier and riders.

Those who have already purchased a pass to Big Sky or Moonlight can upgrade to a joint pass that provides access to all of this area — aptly called “The Biggest Skiing in America” pass — anytime during the month of December. The upgrade can be purchased for $199 for Big Sky pass holders and $649 for those who have already purchased a pass to Moonlight.

[pullquote align=”right”]Skiers and riders can expect both Bridger and Big Sky to be a little larger, and a little different, from when they closed last season.[/pullquote]

Bridger Bowl has also introduced a major update of its own. Bridger replaced the Alpine lift — an iconic red double-chair that has been making its rounds since 1969 — with two new triple chairlifts. The lifts will be named Alpine and Powder Park, and will provide easier access to terrain on the north side of the mountain. The lifts will clear up more space for beginner and intermediate skiers. The installation of the new lifts reportedly cost $4.9 million, with the money being provided through donations and Bridger Bowl’s budget surplus from previous years.

The changes at both resorts come hand-in-hand with higher prices, which will put a larger dent in the typical college student’s budget. Adult full-day lift tickets will increase from $49 to $51 at Bridger Bowl, while a full-day adult lift ticket at Big Sky has increased by $10 to $99. Both resorts have discount prices for students and feature lower rates during the early season. Check out bridgerbowl.com and bigskyresort.com for more information.