Chamber moving forward with plans for entryway monument and wayfinding signage

By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor

BIG SKY – Green circle, blue square and black diamond. Those recognizable ski area symbols may soon mark 35 new signs in Big Sky to represent the meadow, canyon and mountain villages, respectively.

The signs and a new entryway monument at the Highway 191 and Lone Mountain Trail intersection are part of a branding effort led by the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, which has also brought a Billings-based marketing firm to create a brand for the town, and drawn interested parties together to a series of workshops.

A group of about 20 stakeholders, led by the Chamber, has been working with Bozeman-based CTA Architects/Engineers to design the structures and obtain permits. Ryan Hamilton, the Town Center project manager, is leading the charge on this project on behalf of the Chamber.

Hamilton said stakeholders are reviewing the specifics of the design, location, branding and content of every sign.

At a recent workshop, representatives from Big Sky Resort Tax, the Chamber, Big Sky Resort and businesses in Gallatin Canyon came together to review CTA’s proposed designs and locations. The Chamber is also seeking feedback from the Big Sky Owners Association, the Yellowstone Club, Moonlight Basin and businesses in the meadow.

CTA representative Wayne Freeman described the current plan for the entryway monument as a “big flag,” a seven- by 10-foot ‘welcome to’ and destination guide sign made of corten steel (which rusts, oxidizes and becomes weather resistant), bolted to two large pieces of timber, and set on two metal posts. The corten, he said, is a popular material in Big Sky architecture.

The group hasn’t yet heard back from the Federal Highway and Transportation administration on approval, but is working with them.

For the 60 mph traffic on Highway 191, that size might not actually be that large, said Glennis Indreland from Big Sky Resort.

The collaborative group also discussed the size and color of the lettering to be used on the signs, whether the proposed four-inch letters would be big enough to see easily, and the fact that they use the same font as the State of Montana tourism campaign.

Maintenance and wind resistance for the monument were also brought up, as well as specific wording on the signs.

The group went through each proposed sign, addressing details that would make the signs easier to read and consistent.

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good,” said Les Lobel, reminding everyone not to get too nit picky.

Mike Scholz from Buck’s T-4 and the Resort Tax board also had a breakthrough idea: “Let’s use the backs of the signs for branding.”

The group is making progress, and now is nearing the end of the design and permitting process.

“It’s been a long standing need in the community,” Hamilton said about the signage. With his background in project management, Hamilton has the experience to work with the Chamber and organize the many parts of this project.

“Zoning, easements, signage, negotiations, working with the Department of Transportation and the county—that’s what I do,” he said.

After two years of work, the wayfinding signs are six months out from completion, as long as all goes smoothly. The entryway monument may be the next year’s big project.

“We’re dealing with the county, the state and with federal regulations on Highway 191. It’s a community-wide effort done with public money, so it’s a slow process.”

The Chamber will reveal the proposal at an April 11 Town Hall meeting, at 1 p.m. at the Big Sky Chapel.

After that, CTA will apply for finalized permits.