We decided to take advantage of a few freebies with our coupon book before they expired, and headed up to Big Sky, Montana (about 40 miles north) for a full day of playing tourist. Our pass for Montana Whitewater offered two options: a zipline tour, or whitewater rafting. When I first mentioned to Dan that I would like to try Whitewater Rafting, he was very surprised, as I do not swim. However, I knew I would feel a lot safer in a boat, with multiple people, a helmet and life jacket than zipping over trees held on by nothing more than small cable. The company offers several different tours , and we opted for the less challenging 1/2 day on the Gallatin River with Class 2-3 rapids.
If you want to go whitewater rafter, the earlier in the season, the better the water will be, in terms of water level and speed of the water. After mid-June, you will not really encounter much “rapids”, and the company will offer river tubing tours. So the earlier you can go, the more challenging it will be. Of course, the earlier you go, the colder the water temperature is! In our case, it was a brisk 40 degrees, so every splash was a bit refreshing!
There were three rafts in our group. The guides give a lot of safety instructions, and you practice your strokes as a group. Then each raft is on its own with a guide, going down the river, for the next 90 minutes or so.
We bounced off a few rocks, and our guide Nicole, informed us she is an ‘equal opportunity splasher’, and she would turn the boat in different directions so we all got wet. Fortunately, this tour company provided free wetsuits and neoprene boots, which helped, but it was still chilly.
There were areas of calm water, followed by rocky, fast-moving water, which made for a fun morning. Enjoy our little sequence where we all got wet!
The Gallatin River runs along Highway 191, and the scenery is very beautiful.
We had a great time with Montana Whitewater, and would definitely recommend this company. The cost for a 1/2 day tour is $55.00 per person, and does include wetsuits. There are other tour companies, but they charge you extra for the suits. If you go early in the year, you definitely want to have them. We had free passes, but this was definitely something we would pay for with this company.
We stopped along the river for a quick picnic lunch, then headed into the city of Big Sky. On our drive in, we saw a sign for Lone Peak Brewery, so we decided to stop in and sample some of their local brews. Our 5 sampler came on a mini ski!
Of the beers that we sampled, we liked two, Hippy Highway Oatmeal Stout, and a bourbon beer that was finished off for several weeks in a used bourbon barrel. Unfortunately, they do not can or bottle either of these two flavors. So if you want to try them, you will have to come to the brewery!
We continued on to the Big Sky Resort, for our complimentary scenic ski lift ride ($16/adults) from Mountain Village (7500 feet) to Swift Peak (8800 feet). There is an additional tram that will take you to the top of Lone Peak (11,000 feet), but we did not have time for that tour. The lift was very quiet, and took about 15 minutes to get to the top. I found that staring at my feet helped with the heights!
In the summer, the trails open up for hiking and cycling, and they have special lifts to take the bikes to the top.
Even though we did not go to the top, it was still a beautiful view of the mountains.
You can see the city of Big Sky down below.
A view of the resort area coming down on the chair lift.
For those that love skiing, there are many trails for all abilities.
After our quick tour, we headed over to 320 Guest Ranch for our complimentary Pig Roast which they have on Mondays in the summer. For $15, you get a pulled pork sandwich, coleslaw, potato salad, beans and a cookie. While the ranch itself is very nice, we were happy that we did not have to pay for the meal. This went into our “glad it was free” category.
We enjoyed our time Big Sky. It is a wonderful, and growing city.
Quote for the day: “When you put your hand in a flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and the first of what is still to come.” – Leonardo DaVinci