In 1902, Frank Crail ﬁrst set foot in the Big Sky area. While hunting elk in the shadow of Lone Peak he fell in love with the beauty of the surroundings. He purchased the land from the original homesteaders and established the ﬁrst cattle ranch in the area. Today, the original Crail Ranch house still stands in the meadow area by the golf course.
Following his lead, others moved into the area. Cattle ranching was soon superseded by dude ranches. Most of these, The 320 Ranch, Elk Horn Ranch, Lone Mountain Ranch, Covered Wagon Ranch and the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch are still in full operation today. This was the beginning of the Big Sky tourist trade.
Native Montanan Chet Huntley had a dream for the area as well. In 1969, Huntley and a group of investors including Conoco, Burlington Northern, Montana Power, Chrysler Corporation and Northwest Orient Airlines purchased the Crail Ranch land. In 1973, his dream of creating a year round resort community began to materialize with the ofﬁcial opening of Big Sky Ski & Summer Resort. In 1976, the Boyne Corporation acquired the property and began steps to develop and improve the area. Today it is a bustling year round resort community.
The drive to Big Sky through the Gallatin Canyon is arguably the most beautiful drive in the state, and the area surrounding the resort is arguably some of the most beautiful and dramatic mountain scenery found anywhere in the country. From atop the singular and majestic Lone Peak, the view is one of the endless mountain peaks. To the immediate north are the dramatic Spanish Peaks and the Spanish Peaks Wilderness area. Just 18 miles to the south is the boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Over 3 million acres of pristine land surrounding Big Sky is set aside as wilderness area. Big Sky sits in the middle of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, which has some of the cleanest air and water quality in the world. Its not unusual to see moose, mountain goats, elk, big horn sheep, eagles, bear, deer or coyotes wandering around. The nearby Gallatin river is one of the best blue-ribbon trout streams in the world and was the site where “A River Runs Through It” was ﬁlmed.
Madison River flowing to Hebgen Lake in Madison Canyon Area near West Yellowstone, Montana
Madison River flowing into Hebgen Lake in West Yellowstone, Montana
Red Cliffs on the Gallatin River in Gallatin Gateway, Montana
Hebgen Lake at Rainbow Point Campground in Gallatin County, West Yellowstone, Montana
Enjoying the sunshine in West Yellowstone, Montana
Snowmobiling West Yellowstone
Snow Ghosts are seen while snowmobiling in West Yellowstone, Montana