Kickin' the Hive

Beehive Basin, Backcountry skiing Montana
Beehive Basin, Backcountry skiing Montana
Beehive Basin, Backcountry skiing Montana

Kickin' the Hive

Lennon, Derek
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Exploring Beehive Basin.

Nestled high in the Madison Range near Big Sky, Beehive Basin provides one of the best access points for backcountry skiing in the entire region. This classic backcountry zone is a fantastic place to step up your backcountry game with a human-powered adventure. With easy access to wild couloirs, deep powder, inviting bowls, fun trees, and low-angle meadows, skiers and riders of all abilities will enjoy exploring this mountain arena.

Directions
From Hwy. 191, turn west on Hwy. 64 toward Big Sky Resort. Shortly after you pass the ski area, turn right onto Beehive Basin Rd. Use caution as the winding road gets narrow and steep before it reaches the Beehive Basin trailhead at 7,915 ft. Parking is limited. Feel free to park roadside before you reach the trailhead if the road is icy or snow-packed—it’s easy to get stuck. 

Route
A variety of terrain is accessible from the trailhead. One popular option is the Beehive Basin / Middle Basin Ridge. An established skin track follows a path similar to the summer trail as it leaves the parking area. When you reach the open meadows, turn east and find a safe ascent route to gain the Beehive/Middle ridge. When you see a string of prayer flags at 9,250 feet, start looking for a safe place to ski. Rip skins and drop into Middle Basin for up to 1,000 vertical of glorious turns. At the bottom, slap your skins back on and ascend back to the ridgeline. From there, descend into Beehive Basin and head back to the trailhead. 

Vitals
Distance: +/- 4 miles
Elevation Gain/Lost: +/- 2,500’
Time: 2 - 4 hours
Pitch: About as steep as a blue run
Guidebook: Backcountry Skiing Bozeman and Big Sky by Ben Werner
USGS Maps: Gallatin Peak and Lone Mountain 

Avalanche Forecast: Backcountry skiing is risky. Always read and understand the GNFAC avalanche report before you go. mtavalanche.com.

Season: Due to high elevation and deep snow, Beehive Basin can be skied from November to May.

Gear: Beacon, shovel, and probe are mandatory avalanche-safety tools. Ski touring or splitboarding gear is necessary for human-powered travel. A backcountry buddy, an extra layer, snacks, water, and a repair kit are necessary too, and so is an education. Take an avy course before heading out.

Red Flags: An abundance of private property surrounds the Beehive Basin trailhead. Be considerate and stick to the well-marked, highway-like skin track until you access Forest Service land.

Safety Tip: This zone sees plenty of backcountry traffic. Just because someone else skied a slope doesn’t mean you should. Know where you’re going, assess your own risks, and make your own decisions.


Derek Lennon is a skier and writer who lives, works, and plays in the mountains. Follow his backcountry adventures on amountainjourney.com.

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