Landscaping Co.

Big Winters = Big Summers

May 22, 2023

After a snow-filled winter, outdoor enthusiasts are getting ready for one of the best summers in years. Here’s how to take advantage of it in and around Big Sky.  What we got this winter was an old-time sustained winter that kicked in early and didn’t let up until weeks after the lifts stopped spinning. It was that consistency that made it great.

All that snow—and the prolonged cold temps that kept it on the ground—is setting us up for a summer to remember. At least that’s true if you love tacky dirt to run and ride on, rollicking whitewater spring, cold and deep water for fishing, verdant golf courses, and—we hope—a delayed or perhaps mild fire season if the predictions for an El Niño keep the moisture coming. It all begins with the snowmelt, which J.D. Vingman, Outfitter 614 with Wild Trout Outfitters says was steadily coloring the water in the Gallatin by mid May. As the water comes up, says Vingman, “Mister Fish moves into predictable locations when the river rises. They like the slowest water that they can find. You can’t see them in there, but if you throw them something soft and squishy like a Wooly Bugger or a San Juan Worm they’ll eat it. Later, when the high water backs off in late June, we switch to sight-fishing with the salmon fly hatch. That’s when you know summer is getting close. The water needs to warm up for the hatch.” Vingman is hoping for a slow snow melt and enough rain to keep the rivers deep and cold and the fish stress free. Last year’s late-season drought was hard on fish and the people that love them.

A steady flow is also on the mind of the whitewater and floating crowds. Eric Becker is entering his 32 year as the owner/operator of Geyser Whitewater Expeditions. He’s looking forward to late May and early June when the river is way up for his most adventurous clients looking to raft Class III and IV whitewater past House Rock and the Mad Mile. But it’s when the madness eases that the Gallatin float season really kicks in. By the end of June, even the Mad Mile backs off to Class II and III water. And it’s then that the scenic tours are best, with long meandering floats on relatively gentle Class I and II water on other stretches of river. “By late June we have six departures a day and run three different half-day trips,” says Becker. “This summer the rafting will be great no matter what.”Something similar can be said of the impending trail scene in Big Sky. Moist loamy soil is known as “brown pow” and “hero dirt” by mountain bikers for a reason: that spongy surface doesn’t deliver as much chatter through your arms and legs and it makes the cornering feel as if you’re on rails. Snowmelt is the key to that experience. A steady melt saturates the trails, which at Big Sky’s elevation don’t turn to dust easily. “It takes patience to be a mountain biker in Big Sky,” says Gene Bruber, manager of Gallatin Alpine Sports which is currently building an entire new fleet of high end rental bikes. “Wait for the sweet spot when you aren’t slapping through mud and you get that exceptional grip for your tires. That’s when Big Sky riding is at its best.” Want to support the trail scene? The Big Sky Community Organization’s Gala is set for July 7th. They’re kicking off the season with a renewed focus on safety—and building parks and trails. As testament, check out Tanner’s Way, a new connector trail that links Town Center to the North Fork Trailhead. Crossing two private parcels, the BSCO helped create the easements with the support of the Kircher and Noble families.  By June 10th (weather dependent; everything in Montana is weather dependent) the resort should be open for summer operations which includes lift serviced mountain biking, hiking, trail running, chairlift rides, and luxuriating on high altitude decks. The mountain plans to run the Ramcharger, Swift Current, and Explorer chairs all summer without any conflict with the resumed installation of the new tram. But if you’re a Rut contestant, take note: the event is pushed back to September 15th this year because of the lift install. That’s enough action to keep the adventure set busy, but Big Sky is also blooming with cultural happenings. The resort is hosting a new gathering called Savor Big Sky June 29 through July 2. The itinerary includes the work of standout local chefs and global celebrities that will culminate in a Grand Tasting event at the base area backed by a marquee band—stay tuned for the headliner announcement. Expect a steady stream of dinners, lunches, brunches, wine seminars and a spin on an ice cream social involving adult beverages.

Town Center and the clubs will also be pulsing with events. The much loved Farmer’s Market is back and bigger than ever, running every Wednesday from 5:00 to 8:00pm. Expect 80 to 100 vendors at the market which feels more like a street fair these days. “The market runs from Town Center Plaza all the way to Firepit Park,” says Market Master Erik Morrison. “Local artists are booked to play at both ends of the venue. And our vendors cover everything from outfitting to art to conservation and beyond. But the farmers are still there and as treasured as ever. Many of them are growing produce just for this market. After such a long winter I suspect the town will be out in force this summer every chance they get. The Big Sky Farmers Market is a legacy event. It helps define Big Sky. We are committed to keeping it part of Big Sky’s identity. Everyone’s looking forward to summer in Big Sky.”

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