America’s best ski lift is an endless aprés topic with as many opinions as drinkers present usually, but from 2025 there will be a new contender for the title that should simplify the debate – the new Lone Peak Tram at Big Sky Resort.
In our Top 3 Best Ski Lifts in The USA feature a couple of years back we narrowed the judging criteria down to “if you could only ride one ski lift in the USA forever, which would it be?” – and came up with the tram at Jackson Hole as the undisputed winner.
Our Number #2 already was the existing Lone Peak ‘Tram’ (hey, it looks more like an oversize paint can, and carries about as many people!) at Big Sky.
Lone Mountain is the Matterhorn of the Wild West, a magnificent peak with no easy ways down and plenty of seriously challenging ones.
Quite amazingly for America, Big Sky put a lift right to the top back in 1995, just like they often do in the European Alps. Which already makes for amazing terrain options you will never get bored with, including the awesome Big Couloir.
As local Freeride Coach Cooper Raasch told us, “When my friends come up here from Jackson Hole for competitions I tell them hey, Corbet’s, that’s not even a real couloir – it’s a cleft in the rock. Now Big Couloir, that’s a couloir!”
The problem has been as word spreads and it’s popularity grew, the queues for the existing lift could get ridiculous and they had to limit access by making it a premium product a couple of years back.
But now the resort has announced the final phase of their Big Sky 2025 development plan, that will see Big Sky Resort transform the winter and summer experience on the resort’s centerpiece, the iconic Lone Mountain. Construction starts this summer.
The marquee projects in this transformation will be a base-to-summit lift network with world-class, on-mountain food and beverage additions, and a summit experience worthy of Europe’s highest peaks.
Key elements of the multi-year effort will start with a new tram to an enhanced Lone Mountain summit experience, connected to the base by a two-stage gondola with two mid-mountain food and beverage complexes and offering four seasons of adventures. The beginner Mountain Sports experience will be elevated with the creation of an on-mountain teaching center and the comfort of large glass-enclosed gondola cabins to transport guests up the mountain.
“The new lift system from the base area to the summit of Lone Peak will revolutionize the way we access ‘America’s Matterhorn’ in both winter and summer. In creating this must-do experience accessible to all, we will offer the premier high-alpine experience on Montana’s highest scenic overlook,” said Taylor Middleton, president and COO, Big Sky Resort. “While offering this incredible new lift access on Lone Peak, we will continue to preserve the core ski experience off the summit by managing the number of skiers every hour based on current conditions.”
“We couldn’t think of a more significant and emblematic series of initiatives to close out the transformation we’re accomplishing with the Big Sky 2025 vision. Coupling a truly world-class tram experience with the most architecturally thoughtful on-mountain food and beverage and Mountain Sports facilities will set a new standard for mountain communities in North America,” said Stephen Kircher, CEO and president, Boyne Resorts. “This innovative project will kick off an exciting new chapter in transforming the future of tourism in Big Sky and across southwest Montana, and sets the stage for planning Big Sky’s next steps.”
If you have never skied Big Sky you are missing out – it is the second largest resort in America in area terms (only Park City since they swallowed Canyons is bigger) with the icing on the cake for good skiers and riders being Lone Mountain. Beyond day trip distance from any major cities, it’s a true destination resort.
It’s a massive, transformative development, akin to some of the incredible lift offerings like Zermatt’s Matterhorn Glacier Ride or Grindelwald’s V-Cableway Project we have reported on in recent years.
Stay up to date with developments and check the latest Big Sky Resort offerings and conditions here