Bridger Bowl vs. Big Sky

The great debate

It’s the biggest debate around: Big Sky or Bridger Bowl? Does Lone Peak live up to its reputation, and does the mythical Ridge really hold buried treasures and powder turns long after the storm has passed? Hold onto your snorkels, zip up your one-piece, and pack an extra brew, because we’re digging deeper than the accumulated snowpack of both mountains to find out which is the best mountain around.

Not even close. At times the Bridger ridge feels endless, but compare that to Big Sky’s vast terrain—which just grew even larger with the acquisition of Moonlight Basin—and you have the biggest ski resort in America. Edge: Big Sky

The Bridger Bowl Cloud has been known to dump stupid amounts of snow overnight, and in general, the Cold Smoke found there cannot be matched. The Ridge also sits on the leeward side of the slope, gaining additional accumulation and often protected from the gale-force winds that can blow away even the deepest dumps at Big Sky. Edge: Bridger Bowl

When the resort is tracked out, nothing beats carving turns down a long groomed run. This season, Bridger Bowl has added two new lifts, which offer more groomers and glades and expands the territory of the resort. However, the cramped corduroy at Bridger will never live up to the endless rollercoaster groomers of Big Sky and the former Moonlight. Call it a matter of unfair geology. Edge: Big Sky

For anyone living in Bozeman, which is the vast majority of people in the area that have jobs or attend school, Bridger Bowl is just plain closer. Afternoon Ridge hikes and morning face-shots have never been a problem. Skiing Big Sky can be an all-day ordeal and that bums us out. Edge: Bridger Bowl 

The technical ridgeline at Bridger Bowl has spawned many professional skiers who honed their skills in the hidden stashes and steep chutes and gullies. While Big Sky’s terrain might lack technical difficulty, it makes it up for in big, steep ground. Out on Lone Peak, somewhere between puckered butt cheeks and uncontrollable vomiting, skiers cross the line and take it to another level. Edge: Big Sky

We live in Montana—generally, there aren’t any. But on those deep days and busy weekends, it can be a problem. Waiting an hour to get onto Schlasman’s is not much different then standing in line for the tram, but on the average ski day one would be hard-pressed to complain about the wait at either resort. Edge: Tie

It’s all over Big Sky—money-grubbers gazing up at the high-rise hotels that line the base area. Unfortunately, many people see them as an eyesore and a sign that anything pure has already been lost. Bridger Bowl has been able to stave off this type of commercialization so far and that’s just the way we like it. Edge: Bridger

After a few drinks slopeside at Bridger, hitchhike back to downtown Bozeman and you can party in your sweaty ski gear until the bars close and then stumble home to wake up and do it again. Big Sky has numerous notable bars that we love to get weird in, but sometimes the distance is a problem. After a thorough examination, we can’t really remember which was better… Edge: Tie

Every year, the price of a season pass rises: we cringe, close our eyes, and buy them anyway. But one resort takes the overpriced award with a pass that will cost as much as the van that you will need to live in to pay for it. Edge: Bridger Bowl 

The Ridge is a special place. Every time you take that last step to the top, it feels like the first time—and beholding the raw and rugged Crazy Mountains rising in the distance will never get old. But pulling off the highway and heading up the mountain to Big Sky, gazing at the white triangle and knowing that she’s yours for the day, is equally special. And from the top of Lone Peak, you can look out over numerous mountain ranges and states—that view is rivaled by few places. Edge: Big Sky

Winner: Tie
At the end of the day, when the boots are off, the beers have been consumed, and the sun has set on another ski day in southwest Montana, we can’t definitively say which resort is better—and it doesn’t really matter. As far as we’re concerned, anyone out on either hill, skis on their feet and friends following close behind, is the luckiest person in the world.