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. 

Hike & Learn Series Every Tuesday


Hike and Learn Icon

Join BSCO and our community partners for free guided hikes and activities all summer long.

Where: Trails throughout BSCO’s Community Trail System
When: Every Tuesday from July 5 – September 6
Time: 10-11 a.m.
Details: Click on the schedule to review hike details then RSVP below

Hike and Learn Schedule

Meeting Locations and Directions:

Hummocks and Uplands Trails: Meet at the Hummocks and Uplands Trailhead. From Town Center, head east on Aspen Leaf Drive, cross a bridge over the river and continue up the road until you see the parking area and trailhead on your left.

Ousel Falls Trail: Meet at the Ousel Falls Trailhead. From Town Center, head south on Ousel Falls Road for approximately 2 miles, turn left after Crown Butte Road into trailhead parking area.

Crail Ranch Trail: Meet at Historic Crail Ranch. From the Meadow Village head north on Little Coyote Road. Pass the Big Sky Community Park then turn left onto Spotted Elk Road, the ranch will be on your left.

Little Willow Way: Meet at the Big Sky Community Park near the River Pavilion. From the Meadow Village, head north on Little Coyote Road, go past the Big Sky Chapel and pond and turn right into the park. The River Pavilion is to the right near the playground.

Big Sky Community Park Climbing Boulders: Meet at the Big Sky Community Park near the climbing boulders. From the Meadow Village, head north on Little Coyote Road, go past the Big Sky Chapel and pond and turn right into the park. The climbing boulders are on the left near the skate park.


Chef Cat Cora to Appear as Judge for Belgrade ProStart Fundraiser at Big Sky’s Buck’s T-4 Lodge


Accomplished Chef and Television Personality Joins Local Chefs for High School Culinary Competition. Sponsored by The Rapier Family Foundation.

Chef Cat Cora is heading to Big Sky to judge the Belgrade High School’s culinary competition. The Belgrade team recently won the state ProStart contest and is raising money for their upcoming trip to the ProStart nationals in Baltimore in April. The contest will take place April 11, 2013 at Big Sky’s Buck’s T-4 Lodge. Students will pair up with professional chefs from the region for a “black box” cooking competition. Teams will have one hour to prepare dishes using a surprise ingredient. Tickets are $20 and can by obtained from Buck’s T-4 at 995-4111 or any Belgrade ProStart student.

Chef Cat Cora

On and off-screen, Chef Cat Cora continues to make a lasting impression on the culinary community. Her food aspirations began at an early age, and by 15, she developed a business plan for her own restaurant. In 2005, she made television history on Food Network’s Iron Chef America as the first and only female Iron Chef, and in 2006, Bon Appetit named her Executive Chef and bestowed her with their Teacher of the Year award. From partnering with Macy’s for a new restaurant concept that premiered in December, 2008 to her first standalone restaurant at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort in September, 2009, Cat’s bringing a taste of her culinary influence to both coasts. She is host, along with Curtis Stone, of Around The World in 80 Plates, on Bravo.

With national and local support from industry members, educators, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and state restaurant association partners, ProStart reaches more than 95,000 students in 1,700 high schools across 47 states. By bringing together the industry and the classroom, ProStart gives students a platform to discover new interests and talents to open doors for fulfilling careers. It happens through a curriculum that includes all facets of the industry, and sets a high standard of excellence for students and the industry.

The National ProStart Invitational is the country’s premier high school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts. Annually, 350 student competitors put their skills to the test in front of industry leaders, NRAEF Trustees, state restaurant associations, and family and friends – all with an eye on scholarship to pursue further industry education.

“We are tremendously excited to bring Chef Cora to Big Sky and treat her to Montana hospitality”, said Chuck Schommer, Buck’s Owner/F&B Director. “Her dedication and commitment to education and her passion for teaching families healthy eating habits at home make her an excellent role model for these aspiring chefs”. Schommer has been a mentor to the Belgrade ProStart program since 2007, and has helped them win four consecutive state competitions. Schommer, a mainstay of the Montana culinary scene and former guest chef at the James Beard House, has been the culinary force at Big Sky’s renowned Buck’s T-4 for nearly 30 years.

The Belgrade High School ProStart program was started by Family & Consumer Sciences teacher Bev Tompers. Since instituting the program in 2007, Tompers, Schommer and mentor Debbie Finkbeiner of Belgrade’s Black Cat Catering have given over 100 aspiring culinary professionals a head start in their careers. Many are working in the industry today.

In addition to the black box competition, the evening will feature a live and silent auction. Hors D’oeuvres will be served at 6:00 and the competition begins at 7:00. Tickets are $20 and are available at Buck’s T-4.

Montana | The Last Best Place


If you’ve been to Montana, then chances are you’ve heard someone refer to our state as the “Last Best Place”—and if you’ve been here you know why. I anticipated that this post would be about convincing you the validity of this description, maybe with some visual proof. But with a little research, I found there was an even better story that would do all the convincing for me.

So where did this little adage come from? Well, in 1988 writer and professor at the University of Montana, William Kittredge, joined with Annick Smith to publish an anthology of Montana based writings called, The Last Best Place. Once the title hit the public, it was as if Kittredge had finally summed up in just four words what everyone in Montana had already been thinking and feeling. The slogan began to appear everywhere, even in the state tourism office.

However, what had become unanimous coinage for the great state of Montana was challenged by corporate privatization when a Nevada businessman, David E. Lipson, wanted to trademark the phrase “the last best place” for his businesses in 2002. While a trademark does not prevent public use it creates limitations and the possibility of trademark infringement. In Lipson’s case, the proposed trademark was so broad, it would have virtually given his businesses a “de facto monopoly” on the phrase according to the New York Times.

Well, many people had a bit to say about this potential trademark, including Governor Brian Schweitzer and Senator Max Baucus. "Trying to trademark “The Last Best Place” is as ludicrous as someone trying to patent a Montana sunset,” Baucus said. The best part is that Baucus stood by these words and fought to ban the trademark. In 2009, he included language in a congressional bill that prevented trade marking of “Last Best Place.” He said, he’d include it every year if necessary.

I can tell you that just like Montana isn’t your normal place, neither is this instance of trademark prevention.  The symbols of Smokey the Bear and the Olympic Rings cannot be trademarked, but even these are extremely rare instances. Washington trademark lawyer, Patrick Jennings, told the New York Times, "For slogans, such as a name like The Last Best Place, it’s extremely unusual." Just further evidence that Montana isn’t your usual place.

Senator Max Baucus
The New York Times

22 Chefs, 22 Pizzas, 22 Smiling Faces


Ophir-2nd-Grade-Pizza-004Recently, we had 22 miniature guest chefs on premises at Buck’s T-4. We had the privilege of hosting a field trip for the second graders from Ophir school in Buck’s kitchen. It was one big pizza party where all the students had the opportunity to create personal pizzas.

Doug Starz, Todd’s right hand man in Buck’s pub came up with the idea while reading to his son’s class at Ophir School. He asked if the kids would like to do something different during his reading time in the future and came up with a couple suggestions. The make your own pizza party at Buck’s was a unanimous hit. The children’s teacher, Miss Ellis, found creative ways to incorporate the fieldtrip into her lesson plan.

In preparation for the fieldtrip the kids used pizza toppings to practice their multiplication tables. They also learned about steps in a process, just like when you build a pizza from the crust up. And probably the best lesson was the Pizza Pokey, a twist on the classic Hokey Pokey song. It goes something like, “You put some sauce on, you take some sauce off…” Jayne, the hotel manager, heard all the little voices singing from all over Buck’s property.

Each student was assigned their own chef’s uniform, consisting of a big white apron and a tall chef’s hat. Executive Chef Todd Christensen made up the pizza dough and Doug cut up an assortment of toppings for the children to choose from. Each student made their own personal pizza with the help of Todd and Doug. The best part was having a big party where all the kids enjoyed eating their creations.

“The whole field trip was amazing,” Miss Ellis told me. “I had no idea it would be such a blast. Everyone at Buck’s was so generous with their time and resources. The kids just had a wonderful time.”

When Doug approached Todd and Buck’s Food and Beverage Director Chuck Schommer with the pizza party idea, they were immediately on board. Buck’s is always happy and open to participating in the community in any way it can. Besides, it’s usually a great deal of fun. Just look at these pictures of Todd, Chuck and Doug. Who’s having more fun, the kids or them? Hard to tell if you ask me.



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Dirtbag for Parents: Buck’s T-4 Hosts Ophir School 30th Annual Pie Auction


Bon Jovi. Bubbles. Spiked Punch. Disco Balls. Sparkly streamers. And lots and lots of pie. 80s prom? Nope, just the 30th Annual Ophir School Council Pie Auction.

On Saturday, February 20th Buck’s T-4 hosted the annual pie auction for the first time since its inaugural year. The event raised a whopping $35,000, despite the current economic times and had over 200 people in attendance. Our community really knows how to rally together, go Big Sky!

While the event had all the traditional elements—raffle, silent auction and live pie auction—the organizers also added a high school prom theme. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Montana Room at Buck’s T-4 look so spectacular; what, with all the silver and blue streamers, twinkle lights, sparkling stars, balloons galore, and of course patrons dressed from head to toe in prom regalia.

The big three at Buck’s, Mike Scholz, Chuck Schommer and Dave O’Connor were happy to see the event return to their venue and eager to help make the night a huge success. The night before I caught Chuck, Food and Beverage Director at Buck’s, preparing Jell-O shots and testing out different punch recipes (spiked, of course) to be served at the prom. The evening’s appetizers were reminiscent of school lunches with Executive Chef Todd Christensen coming up with some new twists to old favorites—grilled cheese with brie, bacon and apples, five cheese macaroni, and grilled baloney sliders with caramelized onions.

The icing on the cake was the variety of prom attire. At least three decades worth of fashion faux pas were represented—70s, 80s, and 90s—as well as some of the more stereotypical points of high school fashion. A cute couple had an early dinner at the bar dressed in classic nerd ensembles, complete with pocket protectors and thick-rimmed black glasses sporting a classic band of white tape wrapped around the center. Others were dressed to the nines in heels and dresses that never have the opportunity to make it out of the closet. The Montana Room easily doubled as a set for Sixteen Candles or Pretty in Pink.

Pies and cakes of all tastes and proportions were donated for bidding. Lauren Hafer of Buck’s T-4 created a lush butter cream cake in the shape of a flying pink elephant. The Yellowstone Club donated four different creations, one of which was a set of four pies representing the first four letters of the alphabet. A local created a beautiful cake in the shape of a handbag with an O for Ophir as the monogram. I saw two beautiful creations from Big Sky resort, one an elaborate half dome with a marble print, and the other, fresh raspberry tarts adorned with fresh magenta orchids. All the pie bidding raised a total of $4,910.

The pie auction has grown from its simple origins into the biggest yearly fundraiser for Ophir Schools. The money raised is vital to supporting the ski and swim programs, field trips, classroom supplies and much, much more. Many community members and businesses donated pies, items for auction and raffle as well as their time putting the event together. Buck’s T-4 donated use of the Montana room, labor and linen costs and also 10% of the total bill of guests dining in the main dining room as well as $1 for each person eating in the pub between the hours of 5 and 6pm that night.

There was only one minor hitch through out the whole event—a late night pie fatality in Buck’s T-4 parking lot. Two happy winners were in the process of escorting a delicious strawberry shortcake style cake to their vehicle when to their dismay they lost control and the pie was lost to the pavement. Those of us left at Buck’s rushed to the scene of the accident and found the two women making the most of the situation. After all you can’t let a good pie go to waste. I did what any Good Samaritan would do and grabbed a fork.