Experience a Big Sky summer


Summertime, and the Big Sky living is easy, making it the perfect time to explore and experience Montana. A visit to Big Sky will provide you and your family with many adventures and memories that you’re sure to remember for a lifetime. 

Divided into three areas, Canyon, Meadow and Mountain, Big Sky offers an abundance of outdoor recreation and events during the summertime months. Check out Buck’s local recommendations for each area, and keep up to date on all the local events with the Visit Big Sky events calendar.


Located near the entrance to Big Sky, the Gallatin Canyon is your gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Endless recreation, historic Big Sky establishments like Buck’s T-4, and only a short drive to the West Entrance of Yellowstone, where else would you rather be?

  • Hike– Whether a novice or advanced hiker, Big Sky offers remarkable hiking trails for adventurers of all levels. Some of our favorites include Porcupine Creek, Storm Castle and Lava Lake, amongst many others. Find the perfect trail for you and your fellow adventurers here. Oh, and don’t forget your bear spray!   
  • Whitewater RaftGeyser Whitewater Expeditions, conveniently located next door to Buck’s T-4, and Montana Whitewater Rafting take you down the majestic Gallatin River. A scenic whitewater float provides a more-gentle trip, while a whitewater trip will take you through rapids like Screaming Left, around House Rock and down the Mad Mile. Make sure to keep an eye out for a wide array of wildlife.
  • Horseback Ride– Enjoy the vast Big Sky scenery atop a fellow steed. Jake’s Horses and Canyon Adventures, both located a trot down the road from Buck’s T-4, offer guided trail rides for any experience level, from beginners to the most experienced riders. Giddy on up for an hour, full day trail ride or any amount between!


The Meadow, including the Meadow Village Center and Town Center, is the heart of Big Sky during the summer months, providing dining, shopping and a vast number of events for locals and visitors, alike, to enjoy. 

  • Farmers Market– Held every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Fire Pit Park in Town Center, the Big Sky Farmers Market hosts a variety of local and regional merchants including farmers, professional artisans, artists, food and beverage vendors and more. Check out this weekly event during the summer months, June to September. 
  • Music in the Mountains– A family-friendly concert series, Music in the Mountains kicks off the 2019 season on Thursday, June 20 at the Center Stage at Town Center Park. Starting at 6 p.m. every Thursday, this free weekly outdoor event features up-and-coming touring musicians as well as well-known artists. Mingle, dance and enjoy live music in the heart of Big Sky. 
  • Golf – Surrounded by Big Sky mountain views, the Arnold Palmer designed 18 hole 72 par golf course at Big Sky Resort provides an alternative option to summertime mountain recreation, a leisurely “approach”. Book an early morning or late afternoon tee time, whichever is your hole in one.


A few miles up Lone Mountain Trail, the Mountain Village Center is your hub for anything and everything going on “up top,” as locals would say. Lone Peak, combined with Big Sky Resort, and the surrounding mountains provide access to many more Montana adventures and activities.   

  • Mountain Biking– The 40+ miles of downhill trails at Big Sky Resort offers the area’s only lift accessible downhill trails. With beginner, intermediate and advanced and expert terrain, every rider can find a trail to fit their ability level. Operations for mountain biking open on June 15 on the Explorer lift, with Swift Current and Thunder Wolf lifts opening on June 22.   
  • Scenic Views – Take in the views! Whether you’re on top of the summit of Lone Peak, made easily accessible by Big Sky Resort’s Scenic Lift Ride, hiking or relaxing, Big Sky is surrounded by never-ending scenery filled with high peaks, alpine lakes and rivers, colorful wildflowers and animated wildlife. Blink and you may miss the bears.   
  • Boat Rentals at Lake Levinsky – Give a new meaning to spending a day at the lake. Lone Peak ascends high above Lake Levinsky, providing a dramatic backdrop unlike most. Hangout on the shore or enjoy your time out on the lake in a pedal boat, canoe, kayak or stand up paddle board. All are available to rent from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily. 

Just down the road

  • Yellowstone National Park– Big Sky is only a short distance to the West Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Striking canyons, mountainous rivers, lush forests, abundant wildlife, hot springs and spouting geysers, make visiting the world’s first national park an unforgettable experience, especially for summertime visitors. 

Shoulder-Season Guide to Enjoying Big Sky


Well the snow is melting, and the town has started to slow down… what a great time to come enjoy Big Sky like a local. 

Things to do Around Town 

With a slower pace it’s a perfect time to explore the places you may have missed. 

  • Brewery tour-Visit the two breweries in town, Lone Peak Beehive Basin . Head to Lone Peak for a lunch beer and finish off at Beehive for a card game or good old-fashioned cribbage match and stay for three of their tasty beers.
  • Catch a Show-Did you know there is a cinema in town center? At Lone Peak Cinema watch the latest hits in their comfy leather seats with your favorite adult beverage.  
  • Trivia-Come back to the cinema each Friday for TRIVA at its finest. Grab your crew, pick a good team name, & hope that you have spread your knowledge far & wide. 
  • BINGO-Tuesday at the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill, supporting our local American Legion Post 99. The BINGO game starts at 6:15pm but go early and get a bite and beverage. All the proceeds go towards supporting our community and scholarships for our local youth. 
  • Fly Fish- Big Sky, Montana is surrounded by blue ribbon trout fishing, with rivers, alpine lakes and mountain streams, making the area a fly-fishing paradise. Gallatin River Guides(just across the highway from Buck’s will get you all set up)
  • Yellowstone National Park- Check out all the sites before summer hits, located just 45 min from our front door. Watch the animals come out of hibernation and Old Faithful erupt with no one around.
  • Whitewater Raft- Pop next door to Geyser Whitewaterto take on the wild and scenic Gallatin River, which travels through the spectacular Gallatin Canyon and the Big Sky area. Experienced river guides will take you on some exciting and challenging whitewater sections (the spring run-off means raging waters with a whole lot of excitement).

Places to HIKE

  • Porcupine Creek- Just left out of our property enjoy the forest setting in the 2.3 mile loop.
  • Storm Castle- a 4.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail features a great forest setting and is rated as moderate. Don’t forget to catch the view from the top and the prized picture from the top. 
  • Ousel Falls- 1.5 miles round trip Ousel Falls is probably the most popular hike in all of Big Sky. This mellow hike follows the South Fork of the West Fork of the Gallatin River to a stunning waterfall. It’s easy access and appropriate for all ages.
  • Lava Lake- 6 miles round trip Lava Lake is a popular hiking trail that is accessed near the 35 MPH bridge on Highway 191 in the Gallatin Canyon. The Lava Lake Trail parallels Cascade Creek and ends at Lava Lake – the only non-glacially carved lake in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness.

For more information on trails in Big Sky, click HERE.

Where to EAT

Our favorite in house restaurant is closed until May 24th, so it’s a great time to get out and explore. Start the day with our complementary hot buffet breakfast and then start your next adventure stopping at all the favorites. Click here for the full list of open restaurants.

Enjoy the PROPERTY

During the shoulder season our property turns into a place of your own. Enjoy the Patio with river rock fireplace, steaming hot tubs, or grab a book and read it in the outdoor wedding garden or on those colder days take it inside to our hotel lobby enjoying the fire. 

If the slower pace and local feel is what you are after, come visit us during the early spring and late fall. 

Amuse Bouche: A Brief History of Beer from Executive Chef Scott Mechura

This article originally appeared in Explore Big Sky

A Brief History of Beer


Beer is more complex than wine. That might sound like utter nonsense to some, but it’s true. We sip wine; we age wine; we smell wine; we swirl wine. We talk about wine endlessly … It certainly is complex.

Using only three ingredients: grapes, yeast and water, the possibilities are, without question, vast. Contributing to the diversity of grape varietals from around the world are terroir (the microclimate of a grape); the blending of multiple grapes; and temperamental weather, which affects the sugars in a grape. While nature does much of the work, it nevertheless takes great skill to grow and nurture those wine grapes.

Enter beer, also a fermented beverage using yeast to ferment sugars – in this case malted barley – and water. Once harvested, barley isn’t ready to go the way grapes are. It needs to be malted. Malting begins with soaking the barley in water to germinate the endosperm, then heating and drying it to stop the germination. The final malting step involves the desired roasting time and temperature. Different temperatures and schedules for each variety of barley, the country of origin, and the time of year make for additional variances.

Then there’s a fourth ingredient: hops. The female flowers of the Humulus lupulus, hops are the spice and bittering agent in beer, and also work as nature’s preservative. Factor in the hundreds of hop varieties, and you begin to understand why adding that fourth ingredient, with its own variables, makes beer so complex.

Some things you may not know about this historic beverage:

Hops are the predominant seasoning in beer today but historically many fruits, herbs, and spices were used in its place. Some include: chamomile, wormwood, thyme, cherries, myrtle, and spruce.

Until the mid-1800s, when the process of malting barley was perfected, all beers were quite dark.

Beer has a deeply rooted history with humans and, much like wine, is territorial and comes with regional pride. Today, beers are still made in Germany, Belgium, Poland and Czechoslovakia that possess up to 85 percent of their local market share (no U.S. city comes close), yet as little as 20 km away, neighboring communities may have never heard of that beer.

Beer predates bread with regard to yeast being used to ferment grains. Archeologists have traced variations of beer as far back as 6000 B.C. to Egypt and what is now Iran. Ironically, alcohol is banned in Iran today.

A now virtually extinct style, known as “stein beer” (German for stone), was made by heating large rocks, usually granite, to a white-hot temperature. The stones were then submerged into the unfermented beer, or wort, to bring the liquid to a boil.

We’ve enjoyed two renaissances of craft beer here in the U.S., one in the early 1980s through the late 1990s, and one during a resurgence over the last five years. But we still have a fraction of the breweries we had before prohibition.

Belgium is roughly the size of Iowa, yet has some 600-plus breweries. Imagine how fun Iowa would be with that many brewpubs!

The next time you enjoy a beer, whether it’s an obscure ale from the far reaches of the globe, a light beer made in America, or a quality craft beer brewed right here in Big Sky, think about the many technicians and artists that made it possible. Sláinte!

Amuse Bouche: Our Culinary Roots from Executive Chef Scott Mechura

This article originally appeared in Explore Big Sky

Explore Our Culinary Roots


In America, we tend to have a myopic view of food and its origins, but as a nation comprised mostly of non-indigenous people, it stands to reason we have adopted ingredients and cuisines from all over the globe.

But every place tells a similar story about food origins. Here are a few misconceptions:

U.S.: There may be no cooking method that garners more pride right here in America than barbeque. The method of indirect heat and smoke using any variety of flavored woods creating that succulent, smoky rib, brisket, or other protein you may find regionally, is a source of much pride.

Having lived in Texas for three years, I feel there is no other cuisine that possesses a greater facade of being homegrown in the red, white and blue. But this method of cooking has roots that run centuries deep. The Spanish and Portuguese took the barbecue idea to Brazil and Argentina. And, sorry Texas, Florida was the first state to see what became barbeque, as we know it.

Italy: Stop anyone on the street and ask him or her what foods define Italy. They’ll probably mention items like pasta and tomatoes.

We associate the tomato with Mediterranean cuisine and Italy probably tops that list, but this fruit is actually native to the Andes. The tomato moved through South America and was introduced to Europe via the Spanish Revolution. In fact, Italians regarded the tomato as poisonous – it’s a member of the nightshade family like potatoes and eggplant – for centuries.

Pasta didn’t originate in Italy either. Historians widely believe that Italian explorer Marco Polo brought it back from China on his more than two-decade exploration of Eastern Asia.

Ireland: Here’s some news: Ireland is not the original home of the potato. South America is rich in flavor – spices, chilies, roots, and vegetables – and it’s also native to many of the world’s staples that we now see commonplace in other cultures and continents, including the potato.

How did the spud make its way from the Peruvian Andes Mountains to Ireland and elsewhere? Most South American peoples were prolific farmers but not conquerors, so rather than exploring and taking their native foods and practices with them, foreign explorers, merchants, soldiers and traders actually took these foods from them. In this case, Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors brought the potato back to Europe.

Africa: Peanuts are entrenched in Western African diets, as well as in many Vietnamese and Thai dishes. The peanut is almost commonplace in Southeast Asia, yet its provenance is actually quite lengthy.

Peanuts made their way from South America across the Atlantic to Asia, then back again to North America, with some stops along the way, including Western Africa. Peanut butter first appeared in the U.S. at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, and my grandfather said peanut butter was a commonly issued food for the troops in World War II.

New Zealand: The kiwifruit (in New Zealand, to simply refer to a “kiwi” is to refer to the bird, not the fruit) is yet another food native to China. Originally called the Chinese gooseberry, it initially made the trip to New Zealand in 1906.

Oddly we never see kiwifruit in, or associated with, Chinese cuisine. The kiwifruit was also introduced to the U.S. via the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. And, despite the relatively recent flight of the kiwifruit from China’s nest, this little green gem is now commonly eaten from the U.S., to Canada, Chile, France, and Greece.

Germany: Schnitzel is a German and Austrian tradition, no doubt, but ironically it’s prevalent on Israeli menus from Tel Aviv to Brooklyn. This is a prime example of how cultures readily adopt not only foods, but also dishes, no matter their history.

Studying foods and their history can be incredibly interesting, just make sure you’re sitting next to a globe or a map of the world.

Crabapple Picking in the Gallatin Valley Autumn


Just about 5 years ago to the date, I attended a jam and jelly making class, put on by Blue Chair Fruit's Rachel Saunders.  This class changed my life forever (Kris describes it as "possessed").  That fall, I purchased a freezer full of local fruit while in season. I made jams, jellies, marmalades, butters, sauces--you name it. Every waking moment I was thinking about what I could put in a jar next. Every day off all winter long our house smelled just like grandma's on a Sunday.

So fast forward.

I finally realized I missed one important part of Rachel Saunders' class.  Rachel preached "pick what is in season and process it when it is in its prime and ripe".  So now I try to pick and process as much as possible while fresh.  Ok, I still have fruit that I freeze, but let’s face it, "in-season" tends to happen all at once in Montana.

Here is a recent foraging excursion Kris and I went on two weeks ago, and the fruits of our labor.

Chuck Picking Crabapples Kris Picking Crabapples


CrabapplesThe trees were loaded this year, and in no time at all we had 25 lbs of tart little crab apples. Now starts the discussion about what to make? I am always cautioned not to get too weird, and to control the spice level so other people can enjoy whatever I am making.  This batch of crab apples will make Crab Apple Fireball Jelly, Crab Apple Butter and Crab Apple vinegar. I've included the recipe for the jelly below. Enjoy!


[su_heading size="20" align="left"]Crab Apple Fireball Jelly[/su_heading]

  • 10 lbs Crab Apples
  • 16 Cups Water
  • 15 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 2/3 Cups Lemon Juice
  • ½ Cup Fireball Whiskey, plus some for the cook.

Wash the crab apples, remove the stems and and cut in half.  Place in stainless steel stock pot, add the water and and slowly simmer over low heat covered until soft, about 20 minutes, do not stir it breaks up crab apples and clouds the liquid.

In a cheese cloth lined mesh strainer strain the boiled crab apples.  The crab apple juice is for the jelly. Reserve the boiled crab apples for making the butter.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Wash the appropriate number of jars, ring and lids. No need to sterilize the rings and lids in the oven or hot water.  Place the jars on a sheet pan lined with a wire rack and sterilize in a 250-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Place 3 spoons on a plate in the freezer for testing the jelly.

Place the strained crab apple juice in the copper jam pan, add the 15 cups of granulated sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil and simmer, scraping off scum as mixture boils. Save the sugar scum for the crab apple butter.

As the crab apple jelly reduces, it will darken in color.   Turn the heat down continue to skim the boiling mixture and simmer until the jelly reaches your desired thickness. This can be tested by placing the jelly on one of the frozen spoons and cooling.  The set point will be plus or minus 220 degrees.  This batch set at 219 degrees.

Add ½ cup of Fireball Whiskey and continue to simmer until mixture returns to 219 degrees.

Pour jelly into jars leaving ¼ inch head space, screw on rings and lids. Heat in 250-degree oven for 15 minutes to seal. Remove the jars of jelly from the oven and let cool at room temperature. The jars will pop as they cool and seal. This my favorite part and the cooking process and means success. Retighten the rings as the jelly cools.   Store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use immediately.  Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature.


Amuse-Bouche: Is Gluten Free A Trend? from Executive Chef Scott Mechura

This article originally appeared in Explore Big Sky

Is Gluten Free A Trend?


Over the last 30 years, from my days as a young cook to those as a chef, I’ve seen many food trends, innovations and movements. A few that come to mind are the popularity of Southwestern cuisine in the early ‘90s; the Atkins diet of limited carbohydrates; and the South Beach diet, which temporarily eliminates then slowly reintroduces carbohydrates while decreasing protein portions.

I see food trends come and go, and in chefs’ circles we often try to predict how long a particular trend will last. We usually all agree: not very long. And we’re usually right.

The gluten-free diet seems to be front and center as the current haute food trend. As a chef, I initially believed it to be just that, a trend. But maybe now it’s time to eat crow.

A couple years ago, my wife was suffering from what was eventually diagnosed as Hashimoto’s disease, which comes with a list of symptoms too long to mention. The first order of business from her naturopathic, or natural-path doctor, was to eliminate wheat – to “go gluten free.”

What a silly concept, my chef brain thought. Wheat, barley, and other grains are good for you, right? We have been eating them for 10,000 years. I played along however, wanting to support her, to eat like her so she felt more comfortable. “Who knows? I may even learn something,” I thought.

After about two weeks of eating gluten free, I remember one day telling her that I felt the same as before and that I thought it was all a bunch of “nonsense.” The naturopath told me to be patient, informing me it takes more like three to five weeks for gluten to leave your system.

Chefs are not known for patience. Besides, we know what is good, flavorful food and what is healthy. While I patiently adhered to my gluten-free diet for another two to three weeks, I was certain I’d be able to call out the naturopath and tell her it was still nonsense. But I couldn’t. I was more focused, I had more energy, and when I ate a fairly large meal after not eating all day (it’s a chef thing), I didn’t feel like I’d just consumed a bowling ball.

The truth is that while we have, in fact, been eating grains for 10,000 years, we didn't eat them for the previous 90,000 to 100,000 years. We began heavily modifying our wheat sometime in the 1960s to a point where our bodies barely recognize it, let alone are able to digest it. This brings us to where we are today: a society that suffers collective health challenges that were rare a few decades ago.

Over the years, I’ve dealt with many special requests and menu variances. Some still surprise me – I once had a dish sent back because the guest hated the color of the dish their entrée was plated on.

But as a chef, I would like to see the gluten-free diet take its rightful place among the dietary challenges we face today, such as tree nut and dairy allergies, and diabetes, to name a few. So don’t be afraid to ask for a gluten-free meal for fear you’ll be viewed as trendy. In the end, will a gluten free diet be only another passing fad? I certainly hope not.

Amuse-Bouche: The Latest Bite from Executive Chef Scott Mechura

This article originally appeared in Explore Big Sky

The Real History of Food


To study food is to study human history.

In America, we tend to have a myopic view of food and its origins, but as a nation that is comprised of many non-indigenous people, it stands to reason we have adopted ingredients and cuisines from all over the globe. Even right here at home, Native American diets, like most peoples, varied regionally, but three ingredients (affectionately know as the “three sisters”, remained staples throughout the entire future United States: Squashes, beans, and corn (corn and it’s history is worthy of a whole entire conversation on its own). But every continent tells a similar story…

For example, stop anyone on the street and ask him or her what foods define Italy. More than likely they will probably mention items like pasta, and tomatoes. We definitely associate the tomato with Mediterranean cuisine and Italy is probably on the top of that list, but they are actually native to the Andes, moved through South America, and were introduced to Europe via the Spanish revolution. In fact Italians regarded the tomato as poisonous (it is a member of the nightshade family like potatoes and eggplant) for centuries.  Nor did pasta actually originate in Italy. Rather it is widely believed by historians that Marco polo brought it back from China on his more than two decade exploration of eastern Asia.

Some food history creates more questions than answers. For example, the subcontinent is so rich in flavor: spices, chilies, roots, and vegetables, when many of their staples originate elsewhere. And South America is native to many of the world’s staples that we now see commonplace in other cultures and continents. How did the potato make its way from South America to India? Most peoples there were prolific farmers but not conquerors, so rather than exploring and taking their native foods and practices with them, conquerors, merchants, soldiers, and traders took these foods from them. In addition to tomatoes, potatoes and peanuts found themselves headed to new worlds as well.

Peanuts find themselves entrenched in Western African diets, as well as in many Vietnamese and Thai dishes, again, almost commonplace there, yet what was their provenance from South America?

Schnitzel. A German and Austrian tradition no doubt, but the irony is that not only is schnitzel popular in places like Hungary, but it is almost commonplace on Israeli menus from Brooklyn to Televive. Or is it ironic? Food and human history are once again intertwined in such a simple dish. A people that have been persecuted for generations would never hang that cultures flag, or willingly speak their language, and yet without hesitation will adopt their cuisine. Conversely, cultures and entire nations have not only fought over faiths and holy land but something as elementary as hummus. Both Israeli’s and Palestinians have laid claims to hummus and have even shed blood and taken lives over its origin.

Barbeque. There may be no cooking method that garners more pride right here in America than barbeque. The method of indirect heat and smoke using any variety of flavored woods creating that succulent, smoky rib, brisket, or any other protein you may find regionally is a source of much pride. Having lived in Texas for three years, there is no other cuisine that possesses a greater facade of being homegrown in the red white and blue. But this method of cooking has roots that run centuries deep. And they run through the Caribbean. The Spanish and Portuguese then took this cooking method to Brazil and Argentina. And (sorry Texas), Florida was the first state to see what became barbeque, as we know it.

Politics agendas may prevail, armies may conquer, but food is the true trail map of culture and humanity.