home of the Pure Awesomeness Factor Better Data, Better Skiing

Big Sky December Skiing

Big Sky in December: Overview


  • In late December, Big Sky averages having 80% of its terrain open at Christmas. This is a good mark that is helped by the copious amount of mellow terrain across Big Sky's lower elevations. The gnarlier pitches off of Lone Peak require a great deal more snow to get open, but there's a decent chance that some of it will be good for Christmas during most seasons
  • Only about 13% of Christmases arrive with Big Sky getting less than 50% of its terrain open, which makes it a safe play when it comes to planning December and holiday ski trips
  • There are a lot of good flight options into Bozeman beginning in December, which helps keep flights cheaper than into some other, smaller ski airports such as Jackson Hole, Vail-Eagle, Aspen and Montrose (Telluride).
  • Montana can be cold during December days when its northerly latitude means low sun angles and short days, but Big Sky has several of the most advanced chairlifts in North America that include heated seats and backs as well as wind bubbles that seal skiers off from squalls and cold temperatures


  • The Big Sky area has seen an explosion of private home building and still has limited infrastructure to handle peak crowds around the holidays. Expect big lines/no availability at restaurants and slim pickings at the grocery store. The best play is to get reservations months out when possible or to head to dinner as soon as you're home from the slopes. Groceries: get 'em in Bozeman if you can
  • It's cold in Montana in December, so bring your down insulation and don't plan on eating lunches outside. But Big Sky does has some sweet heated chairlifts to help with this
  • Larger accomodations are harder to come by at Big Sky during the holidays, so if for those who want to bring the extended family, search for lodging early. It's true there are a lot of homes on or near the mountain, but most owners like to be out for that week between Christmas and New Year's

Big Sky snow in December

Data show December is the fifth best month Big Sky for overall snow quality when considering the following factors:

  • Snow quantity at Big Sky
  • Snow quality at Big Sky
  • How much snow is required for proper terrain coverage at Big Sky—steeper resorts require more snow to get 100% open.
  • Big Sky's snow frequency (standard deviation)
  • Big Sky's elevation
  • Big Sky's latitude
  • Big Sky's slope aspects - more north-facing slopes protect snow later into winter
Big Sky snow score by month, December in focus

What matters when it comes to snow for December skiing:

Finding good snow early in the season is often a game of chance. But there are mountains and regions that historically perform better than others. We take these factors into account when grading out our scores for resorts and the given season. That said, it's almost always a better bet, in terms of snow and open terrain, to ski in January or Feburary compared with December.

But skiing during the December holidays is a great tradition and it's also one of the only times many families can get away for extended periods.

Those skiing December should look for ski resorts with high average annual snowfalls and low standard deviations. In addition, steep and rocky ski resorts need more snow to get terrain open compared with ski resorts with more modest terrain.

This is also the time of year when slope aspects—north, east, south, west—matter the least. The sun is at it lowest angles in North America in December and has less effect on the snowpack at this time of year than at any other. So ski resorts that possess lots of south-facing and east-facing terrain will generally ski better—assuming there is enough snow—during these darkest times of winter rather than the spring. More explanation on this topic can be found on our snow rankings page.

Big Sky skiing by month:
Big Sky
By Month