Big Sky marketing director Chad Jones moved to Montana in 1997 to attend grad school at the University of Montana, and a master’s degree in anthropology proved perfect for becoming a fully certified (AASI) snowboard instructor and examiner and eventually assuming the reins of Big Sky’s marketing department. A trail runner and road rider first and foremost, he’s a cardio animal who competes in triathlons in his spare time (personal best for a half-Ironman: 5 hours 22 minutes). To put it simply, he knows the off-season terrain around Big Sky as well as anyone. “I enjoy snowboarding, fly fishing, golf, riding motorcycles, and road biking,” he says. He also enjoys “nerding out with photography and video” and incorporating it into flying remote control helicopters, giving him an even greater perspective of the area’s vast terrain.
Here are a few of his favorite things about Big Sky:
Place to mountain bike: The best place to mountain bike is Big Sky Resort. It has some pretty rad runs. Soul Hole and Revenge are awesome, too.
Place to road ride: There are tons of amazing road rides in the area. You can do hills on the Triple Tree ride and partner that with a long push up to Hyalite Reservoir for a long hill workout. Kelly Creek has some great climbs, too. I like the Cottonwood loop for a nice long variable ride (30 miles or so). You can also ride to Livingston on Jackson Creek and then to the Frontage Road to Livingston; the full ride is about 70 miles, with very few stoplights or even stop signs.
Place to ride with the family: There are some great family- and kid-friendly trails around the town of Big Sky that are perfect for the parents and toddlers. The mountain’s a little steep for families, though.
Place to paddle (flatwater): A lot of people head to Lake Levinsky for a quick paddle. They also head to Ennis Lake, Canyon Ferry, and Hebgen.
Place to paddle (whitewater): The Gallatin River, in early season right at the base of the resort.
Place to paddle with the family: We have a small lake here, Lake Levinsky, where people can rent standup paddle boards and kayaks. People also hit Ennis Lake, Canyon Ferry, and Hebgen. Later in the season the Gallatin is good for family floats through Geyser Adventures. Families also like to come to the base of the resort where they can zipline, do a ropes course, putt-putt, and more.
Place for a beer and to re-fuel: There are several places for a beer and food at the resort, all of which have great scenic views of Lone Peak. The Carabiner is a cool restaurant and bar that serves signature cocktails (see what’s on special) and great food. For fueling up beforehand, the Blue Moon has great breakfast sandwiches, Bugaboo Cafe has amazing, more mainstay breakfasts, and Olive B’s has a great brunch on weekends–though you probably won’t feel like doing much activity afterwards.
Photo courtesy Big Sky