Thinking about visiting Big Sky Resort?
I don’t blame you. This awesome mountain resort is one of Montana’s biggest attractions. But being in Montana, that can make travel to this remote part of the country a little… confusing.
I’m here to help. I’ve taken tons of ski trips to Big Sky, and I’m here to share the honest scoop on all of your options for getting to Big Sky.
Disclaimer: Driving conditions can vary. Always drive with caution and do you own research before traveling.
Where is Big Sky Resort
Big Sky is located in Southwest Montana, just across the border from Idaho and Wyoming.
In good weather*, drive times from other Montana towns are:
- Bozeman, Montana to Big Sky: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- Butte, Montana to Big Sky: 2 hours, 15 minutes
- Helena, Montana to Big Sky: 2.5 hours
- Billings, Montana to Big Sky: 3 hours, 20 minutes
In good weather, drive times from other common locations are:
- Idaho Falls, Idaho to Big Sky: 3 hours
- Pocatello, Idaho to Big Sky: 3 hours, 40 minutes
- Jackson, Wyoming to Big Sky: 3 hours, 40 minutes
- Salt Lake City, Utah to Big Sky: 5 hours, 45 minutes
*Big asterisks alert: Winter driving times are very different! Read on to find out why…
Flying to Bozeman (The Best Way to Get to Big Sky)
For most visitors, flying into the Bozeman airport (BZN) is by far the best way to get to Big Sky.
The airport currently runs direct flights from 20 major U.S. cities. (You can find the full list on the BZN airport page)
Once you land in Bozeman, the drive from the airport is barely over 1 hour. Even better, this is one of the easier, more straightforward drives in the world of ski vacations. From the airport, you’ll hop onto U.S. 191, which sits in a mostly flat valley between the mountains and runs along a beautiful river. This means the road is pretty curvy, but unlike many ski destinations, there’s no real crazy mountain passes or white-knuckle guardrail moments.
Most of the drive looks like this:
If it’s snowing, the highway isn’t always completely cleared and you may run into sections with a little bit of snow on the road, so I still recommend renting the most winter-capable car you can afford. That said, the state does a pretty good job keeping this path maintained, and again, this is one of the easiest airport commutes in all of skiing.
Driving to Big Sky
If for some reason you can’t find a decent flight to BZN, many vacationers are tempted to make the drive from other nearby airports, or otherwise loop Big Sky in with a trip to other mountain destinations.
Here are my thoughts on some of the most common of those approaches.
Driving from Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Big Sky
This is a frequently requested choice, since Jackson Hole is the other largest ski resort in the area. (See my detailed Big Sky vs. Jackson Hole comparison for more info.)
This drive is usually estimated around 3 hours, 45 minutes, but the duration can vary widely due to winter weather. And this route is certainly more exposed to winter weather…
From Jackson, you’ll first have to head over Teton Pass along the Wyoming/Idaho border. While this is a well-maintained and frequently traveled road, it’s also legitimately one of the steepest mountain passes in the entire country. (Note: if it’s snowing, Teton Pass does often close for about an hour at a time for avalanche mitigation, so plan accordingly.)
From there, you’ll head through mostly rural flatland until West Yellowstone. While these roads are kept open decently well, the bigger concern is wind. Often, wind-blown snow will get deposited and iced over onto the roads, which adds to the sketch factor and is sure to slow down the drive, lest you want to end up in a ditch in the middle of nowhere!
From West Yellowstone to Big Sky, expect either snow-packed or icy roads. (As one local put it, if these roads aren’t icy, then it’s summer!)
This is also a really remote part of the country, with long stretches without any sort of amenities. You’ll definitely want to pay attention to your gas levels!
P.S. – Watch out for wildlife! Especially past West Yellowstone, we’ve had to share the road with Big Horn Sheep and Bison before!
Driving from Idaho to Big Sky
Another common option is to fly into Idaho Falls IDA airport (approx. 3 hours to Big Sky).
But to be honest, if you’re taking this route, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t just look into flying to Bozeman instead. Prices are usually similar, and the Bozeman to Big Sky drive is much more straightforward.
Driving from Idaho Falls to Big Sky comes with many of the same precautions as the Jackson route, explained above. (This drive shares all the same roads except for the Teton Pass to Ashton part of the trip.)
So, again, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time, take it slow, and keep an eye out for wind, blown snow, ice, and wildlife. And again, you’ll want to make sure you’re plenty gassed up and prepared for very remote stretches of winter driving.
P.S. – Pocatello Regional Airport (PIH) is another option, although it’s usually more expensive and with less options than Idaho Falls.
Driving from Salt Lake City
This one is a common choice for skiers who want to add a Big Sky road-trip onto a visit to Salt Lake City’s many ski resorts.
That said, you’ll be looking at nearly 6+ hours of driving. I’ve made the winter drive from SLC to Idaho Falls a few times, and I recall it being pretty straightforward. However, once past Idaho Falls, the route comes with many of the previously discussed warnings about ice, snow, wind, and wildlife.
This one is definitely an adventure, and I’d strongly suggest you have the winter driving experience and winter-capable vehicle before tackling this challenge.
Driving from other Montana towns
Lastly, you can always look into Montana’s other towns and airports, including:
- Helena (HLN) – approx 2.5 hours
- Billings (BIL) – aprox 3 hours, 15 min
- Great Falls (GTF) – approx 3 hours, 45 min
- Missoula (MSO) – approx. 4 hours
All of these are farther from Big Sky than Bozeman, and usually less convenient and/or more expensive, in my experience.
Final Thoughts on Getting to Big Sky
For most visitors, I’d recommend flying to Bozeman and making the convenient, scenic 1 hour drive to Big Sky.
If you choose to start your trip from other options such as Jackson Hole, Idaho Falls, or Salt Lake City, make sure you’re prepared for the challenges those drives can bring.
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