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Best of Big Sky 2022: Bringing the community together

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Excitement filled the air at the Independent in Big Sky as more than 150 community members, business owners and employees gathered for the Best of Big Sky 2022 awards party on the evening of Dec. 15. Outlaw Partners has facilitated the awards for years, providing the community with a way to vote for and support their favorite local businesses, historically announcing the winners in print in the year’s final issue of Explore Big Sky. 

This year, however, the first announcement of winners occurred live at an awards ceremony, inviting nominees to celebrate the community’s best together. The evening saw laughter, plenty of hoots and hollers, congratulatory clinks of beverages, a few teary eyes and, more than anything else, a community coming together. 

Below we rounded up the top three winners from each category. Congratulations to all of the nominees and this year’s winners!

Best Business

1st Place Ace Hardware – Big Sky

While the typical visit to the hardware store is usually an in-and-out forgettable affair, anyone who frequents Ace Hardware in Big Sky knows it can be more than that. Upon each visit, customers are greeted without fail by a friendly red-vested hardware helper. You’ll never leave empty-handed because the attentive staff will also help you find what you need, and you’ll likely enjoy some pleasant banter along with your shopping. Kevin Barton has run the store since 1993. It grew from a Mom & Pop operation—no employees beside Kevin and his wife, Tina, for the first six months—into a thriving business that fills out a 14,000-square-foot building. Ace has been a community anchor in the face of rough waters throughout the pandemic. It’s no surprise that the Big Sky voted Ace Hardware for the best store.

2nd Place The Riverhouse BBQ & Events

Riverhouse BBQ & Events is known for its delicious BBQ, spectacular view of the Gallatin River and reliable atmosphere. The Riverhouse has stood as a sanctuary for recreationists and locals since owners Greg “Carnie” Lisk and Kyle Wisniewski opened the doors in 2013 with a fiery passion for dry-rubbed meats, craft beer and a good time.

3rd Place Stay Montana

Community Person of the Year

1st Place Ennion Williams

Ennion Williams is rounding out his third decade of calling Big Sky home this year. He began his summers at Lone Mountain Ranch, fulfilling several roles ranging from chef and fly-fishing guide before rising to general manager. He then moved on to general manager of Big Sky Vacation Rentals. Most recently, he entered the worlds of rodeo and live music as Vice President of Events for Outlaw Partners. 

Williams is invested in this community. He’s held a seat on the Big Sky Transportation District Board for more than 20 years and has been with Gallatin River Task Force since the nonprofit’s inception, serving as the board chair since 2020. 

He’s most at home on the Gallatin River. His passion for sharing his knowledge of fly fishing, and his love for healthy rivers is what brought him here and has kept him as a recognizable face in our community for so long.

Community Members of the Year

1st Place Teachers of Big Sky: Ophir School, Lone Peak High School, Big Sky Discovery Academy, Morning Star Learning Center

For any Big Sky parents who had school-aged children during the pandemic, they know the level of commitment that teachers showed to the kids of Ophir School, Lone Peak High School, Big Sky Discovery Academy and Morning Star Learning Center. That commitment continues every day of the school year in good times and during challenging ones. There isn’t a teacher in this community who doesn’t go above and beyond to enhance their students’ lives in and out of school on a daily basis.

In today’s world, the work of a teacher is rooted in the classroom and academics, but also in the emotional well-being of every child. The teachers of Big Sky excel in making a true difference for the future of Big Sky and its next generation of leaders.

2nd Place Firefighters, Big Sky Fire Department

The Big Sky Fire Department came in a close second during voting, which is no surprise because of their continued efforts to keep Big Sky safe and prepared. Their work is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and they often face the unimaginable when responding to emergencies. We’re proud the community is recognizing these often unsung heroes. 

Emerging Entrepreneur

1st Place First Tracks Tire Service

“No more trips to BOZEMAN,” reads the First Tracks Tire Services website. Any local knows the value in that statement for automobile service, but the owners go beyond their convenient location here in Big Sky. They have one simple goal: to be a trusted tire and routine auto-service provider for the residents and visitors of Big Sky with safety, trust and community in mind. Chris and Tanner have extensive backgrounds as auto technicians and are looking forward to being the go-to spot for all who reside in Big Sky.

‘Making Big Sky a Better Place’ Award

1st Place Wellness in Action

Wellness in Action (formerly Women in Action) was founded in 2005 to address the concerns of community members in Big Sky who were missing out on opportunities for quality education and health and human services. Over the years, WIA has provided a broad range of social programs that include counseling services, education programs and scholarship opportunities for summer and winter camps. 

Currently, WIA provides cost-free and sliding-scale priced counseling, education and support groups focused on substance abuse and suicide prevention, and wellness opportunities. WIA offers camp scholarships so that people may participate in educational, recreational and cultural events in and around Big Sky. WIA collaborates with local schools, health care providers, law enforcement, local businesses, as well as other foundations and nonprofits to enhance the lives of all Big Sky residents.

Trailblazer Award

1st Place 406 Agave

When it was first inspired by the surrounding mountains, the idea for 406 Agave was simple: to bring high-quality agave home to Big Sky country to complement this wild and beautiful landscape. Their tequila is crafted at a fourth-generation distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, earning its authentic brand, and 406 Agave is the first American company to partner with that unique distillery. They boast two pure spirits, tequila blanco and tequila reposado, that both contain zero additives. The company is building toward making its tequila an ideal companion to the mountain holiday experience, and is a partner with Big Sky Bravery.

Best Restaurant

1st Palce The Riverhouse BBQ & Events

If you know the Riverhouse owners Greg Lisk and Kyle Wisniewski, you’ll know that seeing them working hard amongst their staff on crazy-busy nights that happen almost every day of the year isn’t out of the ordinary. The duo has been at the helm since 2013 providing a place for locals and tourists to mingle together, listen to live music, dance at community events, and cozy up to a firepit during the summer. It’s where you’ll hear regulars and first-timers alike admiring the incredible views from the deck, kids running around, or folks singing along to classic country.

2nd Place Blue Buddha Sushi Lounge

Troy “Twist” Thompson, founder and owner, learned sushi rolling under the legendary Andy Matsuda in Los Angeles before opening Blue Buddha restaurants in Page, Arizona, and then Big Sky in 2019. The Drunken Monk—Blue Buddha’s late-night bar and eatery—is open seven days a week now.

3rd Place Olive B’s Big Sky Bistro

Editors Pick Cortina at Montage Big Sky

One of the newest and best restaurants in Big Sky is Cortina at Montage Big Sky. The menu is a blend of traditional Italian and the best of Montana’s wild game and ranching products, centered around handmade pasta and a wood-fired grill and hearth.

Best Annual Event

1st Place Music in the Mountains

The Big Sky community celebrated a rowdy lineup of local talent on the Len Hill Park lawn this summer as it has every year since 2010 (aside from the first pandemic year). Produced by the Arts Council of Big Sky for the last decade, the event brings the community out every single time because of the welcoming feel, the beautiful setting and the consistently great acts that perform each week.

With all that said, it likely comes as no surprise that the community voted the free outdoor concert series Music in the Mountains as the best annual event.

2nd Place Big Sky PBR

It isn’t quite a summer in Big Sky without the annual Big Sky PBR. The event gathers some of the world’s top bull riders for three nights of bull-bucking adrenaline, Calcutta auction, mutton bustin’ and live music.

3rd Place Dirtbag Ball

Editors Pick Farmers Market

When the evenings get long and the weather warm, there’s nothing quite like strolling through Town Center browsing your favorite local artists and producers at the Big Sky Farmers Market. The market is held each Wednesday evening between June and August.

Most Sustainable/Green Business

1st Place Gallatin River Task Force

In 2000, a group of passionate community members, concerned about the release of treated wastewater into their beloved Gallatin River, formed the Gallatin River Task Force. The nonprofit has since been advocating for one of Big Sky’s crown jewels by monitoring the Upper Gallatin River Watershed, employing water conservation efforts and a water management forum that plans for the area’s growth and development. Task Force members do the work because they believe that friends, neighbors, wildlife and future generations all deserve to enjoy a healthy river corridor.

The group’s work focuses on solving problems across three areas: the ecological health of river systems, water conservation and wastewater management. It is the only nonprofit focused solely on protecting the upper watershed as various factors continue to threaten the river’s health.

2nd Place Big Sky SNO

If you’ve used the water fountains or new recycling and compost bins around Big Sky, you’re aware of the work that the Big Sky Sustainability Network Organization does for the community. The nonprofit works to identify ways to reduce reuse and recycle in everyday life so we can remain sustainable even while we grow.

3rd Place Steele Pressed Juice + Java

Best Nonprofit

1st Place Big Sky Community Food Bank

Big Sky is home to many seasonal employees, and that, coupled with a high cost of living, causes food insecurity. Over the past year, overall need grew by 60% in 2022, according to data from the Big Sky Community Food Bank. People might have used the food bank a few times a year in the past, but in the pandemic era customers have visited the nonprofit up to once a week. A program of the Human Resource Development Council, the food bank works tirelessly to provide those in need with a reliable food source, vouchers for local grocery stores and more.

2nd Place Big Sky Community Organization

Big Sky loves its trails and recreation. Whether you’re biking Hummocks Trail, on one of the area’s many groomed cross-country ski trails, playing softball or heading up to Beehive Basin for an after-work hike, you are enjoying services provided by Big Sky Community Organization. BSCO also operates the BASE Community Center in Town Center.

3rd Place Gallatin River Task Force

Editors Pick Big Sky Chamber of Commerce

The Big Sky Chamber of Commerce plays something of an unheralded role in the unincorporated community of Big Sky. It supports the community through efforts like helping to organize Big Sky Community Week alongside the Big Sky Resort Area District, and providing health insurance options for small businesses.

Best Bar

1st Place Beehive Basin Brewery

On your way out of Big Sky after an epic powder day at the resort, no day is finished without a stop at Beehive Basin Brewery. It isn’t by accident the brewery snagged a “best beer” win at the 2016 Big Sky Brewfest, all of one year after they opened—when it comes to beer, owners Casey Folley and Andy Liedberg (who’s also the head brewer) aim high. 

The brewery operates a seven-barrel brewing system custom-built for them by a company in Oregon. The system allows Liedberg to constantly change up the beers on tap. And with more than a decade’s worth of experience brewing up tasty beers, you’d be remiss to skip out on a visit to Beehive Basin’s location in Town Center or tracking down a pint around town.

2nd Place The Independent

From movies to trivia, with themed cocktails and house-made infusions it’s no wonder the Independent is a community favorite. Co-owners John Romney and Dan Henry reopened the venue on Jan. 7 this year after with help from General Manager Ruth White, who joined the team in May 2021, to help transition from Lone Peak Cinema to its current setup with a theater, bar and upstairs restaurant.

3rd Place The Rocks Tasting Room and Liquor Store

Best Date Night

1st Place Michaelangelo’s Big Sky

Michaelangelo’s is an authentic Italian restaurant with a menu consisting of dishes from northern Italy. It’s run by siblings Emily and Michael Annadono. Michael—who trained in the Piedmont region of Italy and was named one of America’s best chefs by—is the owner and head chef, and Emily is the general manager. Emily has said that it’s been really special to develop and grow the restaurant with her brother, and that the restaurant has a tight-knit staff that has grown to become great friends over time.

The restaurant opened in March 2016, and is the second Michaelangelo’s the pair has run. The pair co-owned a restaurant in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood before Michael ventured out West and fell in love with Big Sky.

2nd Place Olive B’s Big Sky Bistro

Olive B’s menu is so memorable, they’ve made the Best of Big Sky multiple times. Among their already popular menu, the burger reigns supreme, it seems, making your decision the next time you visit an easy one. Although you really can’t make a wrong choice if you want to impress a date by picking a somewhat more refined entree.

3rd Place Lone Mountain Ranch

Best Bartender

1st Place Zach Lowenstein at The Independent

The handsome native of northern California is one of the head bartenders at The Independent—and currently leading an internal competition to pop the most bottle caps without a tool specifically made for the job. Lowenstein is a talker and believes that perhaps the core of bartending is the ability to show someone a good time. Among his goals with every customer is to get to know them, while they get to know him as well.

He harbors a deep love of tequila and can regale customers with tales of riding motorcycles through agave fields in Jalisco, and has worked in Big Sky for three years and recently moved from the Lone Mountain Ranch over to the Independent, which Lowenstein says has the best team in town.

2nd Place Joe Messreni at Drunken Monk

Joe Messreni has been slinging amazing handcrafted cocktails at Blue Buddha’s Drunken Monk since they opened in July 2021. Messreni’s unique and creative bartending style matches the vibrant Japanese-inspired atmosphere of the bar in which he serves. Be sure to try his Flaming Lotus cocktail if you’re in the mood for a delicious, spicy drink.

3rd Place Kara Blodgett at The Rocks Tasting Room and Liquor Store

Best Chef 

1st Place Josh Morris at Lone Mountain Ranch

Josh Morris brings his southern charm and flare to the table at Lone Mountain Ranch. As an outdoor events chef, Morris works outside all day cooking a unique and locally sourced menu. His love for food began around his grandmother’s dinner table in Mississippi and has eventually brought him to Lone Mountain Ranch in 2018.

Morris spends his summers riding horseback roughly 80 miles through the backcountry of Yellowstone to prepare delicious, fresh meals for his guests. If he’s not in the backcountry, Morris is often serving Frito pies with a smile on his face at LMR’s summer rodeo events. In the winter, Morris helps prepare Horn & Cantle’s Montana-inspired meals as a morning sous chef.

2nd Place John Flach at By Word of Mouth

John and Pam Flach have been feeding the locals of Big Sky since 1995 when they purchased BYWOM from its original owner. John is loved for his culinary skills and has been a respected community member for 35 years. Don’t pass up their happy hour deals… the “Dirtbag Deal” is not to be missed, dirtbag or not.

3rd Place Josh Sauers at Blue Buddha Sushi Lounge

Best Coffee

1st Place Caliber Coffee Roasters

Big Sky’s love for fresh coffee and fresh snow go hand in hand. With house-roasted whole bean coffee, a variety of espresso drinks, pour-overs and drip coffee, along with breakfast burritos, breakfast sandwiches and fresh baked goods, Caliber serves skiers on their way to slaying a powder day. Caliber owner Stephanie Alexander has been a barista since 1999 and attended Idaho’s Diedrich Roasters roasting school. She worked at the Mud Hut in Bozeman before starting Big Sky Coffee & Tea.

In 2017, she bought and took over Caliber and has provided the community with a cozy space to work, listen to music or stop in for a quick bite, seven days of the week. Caliber is located in the Westfork Meadows Shopping Center where locals can grab a fresh brew and a tasty treat.

2nd Place Steele Pressed Juice + Java 

With origins stemming from their days at the Big Sky farmers market, owner Jen Steele has turned her dream into a reality. Now with a shop in Town Center, Steele and her staff are serving up delicious coffee along with healthy smoothies, snacks and quick meals in a cozy and welcoming spot to settle in for a healthy food and beverage break.

3rd Place Hungry Moose Market and Deli

Best Sandwich

1st Place Hungry Moose Market and Deli

A trip to the Hungry Moose Market & Deli every so often takes longer than expected, but that’s because there’s always a friendly face behind the counter to stop and chat with. Or because visitors run into their friends. After all, as the welcome mat says, Hungry Moose has been “in the belly of Big Sky since 1994.”

The Hungry Moose is known for their ready-to-go sandwiches among other lunch goods like curried chicken salad, housemade tuna salad, healthy wraps and Boar’s Head meats. It’s no wonder many locals head to the Hungry Moose multiple days per week. Also, their beer and wine selection is not to be slept on.

2nd Place Roxy’s Market and Café

Roxy’s is known for their sandwiches. As Big Sky’s largest grocery store, the deli serves equally large portions. The 17,000-square-foot building houses a deli in addition to groceries, produce and an expansive beer and wine selection. The store opened in the fall of 2014. Co-owners Roxy and Michael Lawler also have grocery stores in Aspen and Montecito, California.

3rd Place Riverhouse BBQ & Events

Best Breakfast

1st Place Cafe 191

No matter the time of year, Cafe 191 is always a lively restaurant filled with locals and tourists alike. That’s because their breakfasts are hearty, healthy, fresh, and affordable, with portions that are meant for leftovers. Customers never leave hungry, and often leave relaxed after a stellar mimosa or bloody mary. The breakfast stir-fry and the quinoa and eggs will satisfy healthy appetites, but their whiskey bourbon bison steak and eggs and the buttermilk biscuits and gravy won’t disappoint either. The staff is always smiling and happy to pour a fresh cup of coffee in the morning.

It’s one the best spots in town to start an adventurous day, and it’s been that way ever since opening its doors in 1986. 

2nd Place Blue Moon Bakery

Blue Moon Bakery is owned and operated by the Johnsen family and has already been recognized for their pizza and brownies, and this latest milestone—they’ve won numerous “Best of” accolades over their 25-plus years—proves they can do it all. Plus, what goes better with fresh cinnamon rolls than a piping hot brew for the road?

3rd Place The Corral Steakhouse & Motel

Best Après

1st Place Scissorbills Saloon

Scissorbills Saloon has been a mainstay at the mountain almost since the resort welcomed its first skiers in the 1970s. Aprés brews are located a short walk from the chairlifts and up the stairs on the third floor of the Arrowhead Mall in the Mountain Village. Operating partner Keith Kuhns has created and maintained a fun-loving atmosphere that keeps the locals coming back year after year, as evidenced by the community crowning Scissorbills Best Après.

The privately-owned saloon at the foot of Big Sky Resort has live music Thursday through Sunday evenings, you can put your ski boots up, talk about your best runs of the day, and listen to some great local musicians.

2nd Place Big Sky Base Area

After a day on the mountain, friends catch up and share snowy stories at Big Sky Resort’s base area. With live DJs, a new yurt bar and a deck that faces the sunset on the peak, locals and tourists can’t go wrong hanging out and relishing Big Sky after a day on the hill.

3rd Place Beehive Basin Brewery

Best Lodging/Hotel

1st Place The Wilson Hotel

The Wilson Hotel not only provides quality lodging in Big Sky Town Center, but offers a gathering place for outdoor music, the Big Sky farmers market and a place to play in the park, drink coffee, eat ice cream and soak up the sun. At the helm is General Manager Mandy Hotovy, who moved out West to earn her turns and further her career in the hospitality industry. She’s been in Big Sky since 2018.

The Wilson maintains high occupancy numbers throughout the year and continues to be a hub for community gatherings in addition to offering visitors a high-end experience in the heart of Town Center, with a brewery, restaurant, cinema and equipment rentals all within walking distance of the hotel.

2nd Place Lone Mountain Ranch

The service, the setting, the food, the outdoor activities and the staff define this Montana guest ranch. Whether it’s for the lodging, the easy access to Yellowstone National Park or world-class Nordic ski trails, the Lone Mountain Ranch has something for just about every guest.

3rd Place Montage Big Sky

Best Local Meal Deal

1st Place The Riverhouse BBQ & Events

Fried cheese curds, sweet potato fries, fried chicken and smoked brisket that falls off the fork into macaroni and cheese… The Riverhouse exists to fulfill barbecue fantasies. For those on a budget, they’re committed to serving affordable fried chicken. 

The Riverhouse opened in 2013 because the founders, Kyle Wisniewski and Greg Lisk felt compelled to bring dry-rubbed, slow-smoked Hill Country Texas barbecue to Big Sky. Lo and behold, delicious food and a great atmosphere mixed well with the mountain community of Big Sky, as readers might notice in the Best of Big Sky listings—they’re in this list a few times.

2nd Place Mi Pueblito Taco Bus

If you pull into Ace Hardware’s parking lot to snag a quick beef side burrito for lunch, the Mi Pueblito Taco Bus provides hungry recreationists and workers of Big Sky with delicious, finely made and authentic Mexican food from the school bus window, come rain or shine.

3rd Place Blue Moon Bakery

Best Burger

1st Place By Word of Mouth

BYWOM has been Big Sky’s go-to for a burger packed with caramelized onions, pickles, lettuce and a secret sauce since its inception 26 years ago. The family-owned eatery has claimed the Best Burger title for many consecutive years, and there’s no secret why—owners John and Pam Flach are passionate about providing a high-quality menu. The two met while working at Buck’s T4 Lodge back in the day; John was a chef and Pam was a waitress.

Every local knows the craving for a BYWOM burger after a day on the ski hill. The restaurant has grown its offerings considerably since its humble beginnings as a deli and wine shop way back in 1993, earning them another Best Burger plaque.

2nd Place The Corral Bar, Steakhouse & Motel

Drinking, pool, swing dancing and good burgers are all part of the Corral Bar, Steakhouse & Motel’s storied past. Whether it’s the bourbon burger, the fire burger, or the black & bleu, the Corral serves a hearty meal and a good local vibe.

3rd Place Riverhouse BBQ & Events

Best Pizza

1st Place Ousel & Spur Pizza Company

This isn’t the first time Ousel and Spur has claimed the title of Big Sky’s best pizza. And with fresh sauces made in-house to go along with classic hand tossed crusts, it may not be much of a surprise. Owner Jennifer Kettleridge places an emphasis on high quality, locally sourced ingredients to craft her delicious pies and housemade sauce, which elevates the high quality of Ousel & Spur’s Italian cuisine to something beyond just your standard pizzeria. They also offer take-and-bake options for the busy Big Sky local or visitor on the go. 

In addition to the ingredients and care she puts into her food, Kettleridge attributes a fair portion of her success to the outstanding Ousel & Spur employees. As their website reads, “Eat pizza. Drink wine. Enjoy life!”

2nd Place Blue Moon Bakery

Another frequent Best of Big Sky contender across multiple categories, Blue Moon Bakery has kept Big Sky residents well-fed since they opened more than 25 years ago. The family-owned bakery is known for sandwiches and baked goods too. Poke your head in next time you’re around Big Pine Drive—a member of the Johnsen family will likely be there.

3rd Place Milkies Pizza & Pub

Best Architect

1st Place Centre Sky Architecture

Founder and Principal Architect Jamie Daugaard has been crafting custom residential, ranch, resort and commercial architecture across the Rocky Mountain West since 1998. Centre Sky Architecture remembers a Big Sky before the various private clubs—those clubs were some of the firm’s first projects in the area. Today, they work on extensive projects across the region, in addition to ones in the Yellowstone Club, Spanish Peaks and Moonlight Basin. The company’s creative, open-minded and design-oriented team can handle just about any project.

Daugaard attributes the success of his company to the general contractors who execute his work as well as support from the Montana State University Architecture Department and the professors who guided him along his professional path as an architectural student at the university.

2nd Place Bechtle Architects

Bechtle Architects has deep roots in Big Sky. They have served as designers of many of the buildings throughout Town Center and Big Sky Resort. Owner Scott Bechtle runs an entrepreneurial team with a passion for the Montana way of life. They keep busy with a range of projects, from residential remodels to mixed-use buildings.

3rd Place 45 Architecture

Best Real Estate Agency

1st Place Big Sky Real Estate Co.

Staffed with real veterans of the Big Sky real estate market, Big Sky Real Estate Co. is one of the standout firms for home and land purchases in Big Sky. As many of their agents have stated in person and online, they are grateful for the Big Sky Community and the good fortune its residents all have to live, work and play in such a special part of the world. Founding broker Ania Bulis has called Montana home for more than two decades, and her counterpart and founding broker Martha Johnson first became a full-time Big Sky resident in 1988. Between those two and their civic-minded coworkers, Big Sky Real Estate Co. is an asset to the community.

2nd Place L&K Real Estate

L&K Real Estate is one of Big Sky’s top brokerages, boasting more than 70 years of combined experience and total sales that measure in the billions. Co-owners Eric Ladd and Ryan Kulesza have been expanding L&K Real Estate’s offerings to the Bozeman area in addition to the Big Sky area. The dedicated team, supported by an experienced staff, are devoted to helping people find their dream property.

3rd Place Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty

Best Property Management

1st Place Two Pines Property Management

Two Pines Properties, owned and operated by Wes and Alex Hoecker, like to keep it simple: they provide the best possible service to all of their owners and guests. While they began with a single condo over a decade ago, the Hoeckers have since grown into one of the most respected property management companies in the region.

Business success aside, the husband and wife team is hardworking and humbled simply to be living in Big Sky and supported by the community they love so much—a community that has stepped up for the couple during challenging times as they got the business off the ground. They share their Best of Big Sky title with all the people who make their work happen, from cleaners to owners to staff and everything in between.

2nd Place Hammond Property Management

Hammond is a family-owned company that was founded in 1997 and wields the power of more than 100 years of combined experience in property management and maintenance. Among the company’s specialties are HOA management, snow removal, maintenance—they have a maintenance shop on U.S. Highway 191—and all aspects of condo complex services.

3rd Place Stay Montana

Best Wedding Venue

1st Place Lone Mountain Ranch

Lone Mountain Ranch provides one of the most authentic experiences in Yellowstone Country, and has earned its stripes as a world-renowned establishment. On a single property, visitors can experience horseback riding, cross-country skiing, family-focused activities, luxury lodging and fine dining all surrounded by some of Big Sky’s most breathtaking vistas. As one might expect, LMR has been featured in Rocky Mountain Bride, Martha Stewart Weddings and—believe it or not—National Geographic.

They were voted the best spot to tie the knot, as friends and family will relish any event at such a memorable location. Lone Mountain Ranch has newlyweds covered with individual packages available for summer and winter honeymoons.

2nd Place The Riverhouse BBQ & Events

What’s a barbecue joint doing on a Best Wedding Venue list? It’s to do with the “events” side of their name. Riverhouse has incredible views of the Gallatin Canyon, a large tent along the Gallatin River, delicious food and a fun vibe.

3rd Place Rainbow Ranch Lodge

Best Wellness Business

1st Place Big Sky Natural Health

Big Sky Natural Health is operated by Dr. Kaley Burns, a licensed naturopathic physician who brings a passion to create a healthier body and mind in each person, using an individualized approach honed over years in practice. Big Sky Natural Health supports the community’s active residents and provides a refreshed focus on health. 

Dr. Burns has a passion for endurance sports, having coached and competed in multiple Ironman events. Among the offerings she and her team provide are altitude IV therapy, NormaTec compression, nutritional counseling, acupuncture, cryotherapy, platelet rich plasma facial rejuvenation and herbal remedies. Also included are mobile IV services for group events, which include hydration IV therapies that take about 30 to 45 minutes.

2nd Place Santosha Wellness Center

Owner Callie Stolz and her team at the Santosha Wellness Center offer a variety of practices and holistic healing services from around the world, including massages that aid in recovery and various styles of yoga.

3rd Place Lone Peak Physical Therapy & Performance

Best Fitness Center

1st Place BASE

BASE is an acronym that stands for Big Adventure Safe Environment, and as Big Sky’s first community and recreation center, it provides locals with exactly that. BASE has become a community hub since opening its doors to the public in March, 2022. Offering more than 20 fitness and wellness classes each week, a workout area with cardio and strength equipment, pick-up sports in the full size gymnasium, a climbing wall and weekly youth programs, it’s no surprise that BASE is the community’s pick for best fitness center.

Pick-up pickleball and basketball games have become a popular weekly gathering for all ages, and it provides an after school place for Big Sky kids to stay active and fit together.

2nd Place Moving Mountains

Moving Mountains is a fitness center geared toward Big Sky residents looking to build their mountain-specific fitness or get their lifestyle aligned with where they’d like it to be. This fitness center aims to make the outdoor activities Big Sky is known for even more fun by physically preparing athletes to push their goals in the mountains.

3rd Place  Lone Peak Physical Therapy & Performance

Best Cannabis Dispensary

1st Place Lone Peak Cannabis Company

Lone Peak Cannabis Company got its start back in 2010 as a medical cannabis business and has grown over the years into Big Sky’s favorite dispensary. LPC has developed a reputation for quality in part because of strategic partnerships it has struck with organizations like Collective Elevation, one of Montana’s largest living-soil cannabis grow facilities. LPC owner Charlie Gaillard has said such partnerships align with his company’s mission to provide the best products available to customers, while growing cannabis in a way that’s better for both the environment and the consumer. 

LPC specializes in organic, top-tier medicinal and recreational cannabis in addition to offering special deals and discounts to frequent members.

2nd Place Herbaceous

Herbaceous is a family-owned business co-owned by Tanya Simonson here in Big Sky. The company serves both recreational customers and medical patients and has two locations: one near its farm in Butte and one just east of Four Corners on Bobcat Drive.

3rd Place Greener Pastures

Best Builder

1st Place Big Sky Build

Big Sky Build is the brainchild of John Seelye, who has lived in Big Sky since finishing college. Like many locals, he fell in love with the community and its surrounding mountains. What began in 1997 as Big Sky Woodwork & Design has evolved over decades into a company that specializes in all phases of the building process. As the 2021 winner for Best Business, Big Sky Build’s team continues to exemplify hard work, extensive expertise in their industry, and dedicated community involvement.

The team that Seelye has built not only excels in building beautiful homes but also serves as a true community leader. The community has voted Big Sky Build as Best Builder six times and Seelye, founder and president, was named business person of the year in 2016.

2nd Place Porlier Custom Homes

Porlier Custom Homes is owned by Steve Porlier, a family-focused home builder. Porlier earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Oklahoma before gaining a reputation for excellent craftsmanship with high-end homes in Dallas. He moved to southwest Montana in recent years and has several active projects around Big Sky.

3rd Place Lone Pine Builders

Best Outdoor Retailer

1st Place Grizzly Outfitters

Grizzly Outfitters has been providing Big Sky with outdoor gear, rentals, tune-ups, repairs and sound local advice since 1994. Owners Andrew Schreiner and Ken Lancey met in Big Sky Resort’s ski rental shop and together opened Grizzly Outfitters in the building that is now home to Big Sky Thrift and the Social Impact Hub. After a few more moves, Grizzly Outfitters settled into their space in Town Center, significantly expanding their inventory and offerings, becoming further entrenched as a community staple. 

Schreiner and Lancey built up the business to such a high level that Colorado-based retailer Christy Sports purchased the company in December 2022, committing to keeping the staff and maintaining the high level of service Grizzly has offered to Big Sky over the years.

2nd Place Gallatin Alpine Sports

With 25 years under their belt, Gallatin Alpine Sports has Big Sky covered for nearly any adventure out there. Owner Tom Owen and his crew provide gear and rentals in-store and via delivery for everything from the rivers to the mountains, and are particularly knowledgeable about Nordic skiing and mountain biking.

3rd Place East Slope Outdoors

Best Boutique Retailer 

1st Place Montana Supply

Mountain Supply, a mountain lifestyle shop located in the Town Center, offers a wide variety of clothing, accessories, books, decor and seasonal items. The inventory all exemplifies a modern Western style that is well-suited for locals and visitors to southwest Montana. The business is co-owned by husband and wife Josh Tozier and Alaina Stinson and offers a wide selection of many shoppers’ favorite brands, expertly curated to fit the mountain aesthetic.

2nd Place Shelly Bermont Fine Jewelry

Shelly Bermont has worn a lot of hats and excelled in many careers during her lifetime. She found her artistic calling here in Big Sky at her jewelry store, Shelly Bermont Fine Jewelry located in the Meadow Village. Whether casual or sophisticated, Bermont and her team of Geologist Institute of America-certified employees work one-on-one with every customer to create pieces that emulate Big Sky’s beauty and unique setting.

3rd Place Rhinestone Cowgirl

Best Art Gallery

1st Place Courtney Collins Fine Art

Courtney Collins is not just a gallery owner, but a friend to many of the artists she represents. Her Town Center gallery features a collection of Western artists representing life in the Rocky Mountains through contemporary and traditional fine art. After working in Jackson Hole, Wyoming as an interior designer for 15 years, she grew her knowledge and relationships within the Western art world and decided to sell pieces to those who would cherish them for years to come. Collins opened her Big Sky gallery in 2020 and has since become a respected curator of museum-quality pieces in town and beyond.

2nd Place Gallatin River Gallery

Owner and artist Julie Gustafson started Gallatin River Gallery 22 years ago in a small space near U.S. Highway 191 and thanks to a successful run, has since moved to a larger space in the Meadow Village.

3rd Place Dave Pecunies Photography

Best Spa/Salon

1st Place Man of the Woods Barbershop

Man of the Woods opened in January 2021 as the brainchild of Kyle Pemberton. Pemberton graduated from a Boise, Idaho barber school and helped open Bozeman’s Sellsword Barber Company in 2018. Before starting Man of the Woods, Pemberton and his wife converted an old school bus into a mobile barber shop and traveled the U.S. to offer free haircuts to anyone in need. They made it to 23 states and gave roughly 300 free cuts before returning to Bozeman at the beginning of the pandemic. Soon, Pemberton realized his dream of opening his own barbershop and knew Big Sky would be a perfect location. Man of the Woods brings the feel of a classic big-city barber shop—a place to sit, relax and catch up on local news while getting a clean shave and cut—to the small town of Big Sky.

2nd Place Santosha Wellness Center

Santosha Wellness Center has been providing Big Sky with a variety of health, beauty and wellness services from around the globe for more than ten years. Santosha provides Big Sky with a place to indulge in a natural and holistic approach to healing and growth, with services including massage therapy, skin care and yoga classes.

3rd Place Tribe Salon

Best Artist

1st Place Heather Rapp

Since moving to Big Sky in 2007, Heather Rapp has brought joy to those who come across her vibrant work at the farmers market and in shops all around town. Her colorful landscapes and wildlife paintings are now featured in the Big Sky Artists’ Collective in Town Center. Rapp is an avid outdoorswoman, hiking to inspire her bright paintings which often showcase Big Sky’s slice of the outdoors, with abstract juxtapositions between reality and imagination. She holds a BFA in graphic design from the Art Institute of Portland in Oregon, and writes, “murals and larger canvas pieces are what fuel my creative freedom and artistic fire.” 

She’s grateful for all who continue to showcase and purchase her art, which allows her to live the dream of being an artist in Big Sky.           

2nd Place Anna Middleton

Watercolor landscape painter Anna Middleton paints the chutes and crags of Lone Mountain, as well as landscapes from her summer travels. She’s a ski patroller, outdoor educator, wildflower admirer, crazy creek lover and mountain lake enthusiast. Her stickers, postcards and prints are featured at shops including the Hungry Moose Market & Deli, and at Big Sky Resort. Her work is priced on a sliding scale to allow access for more consumers.

3rd Place Cezia Costales

Best Photographer

1st Place Ryan Turner

Photographer Ryan Turner captures the essence and spirit of Big Sky country. Turner originally discovered the Gallatin Valley when he visited during a ski trip in college. After graduating with a fine arts degree in 1996, Turner returned and followed his dream of opening a gallery in the mountains. Today, the talented photographer shares his art in Town Center.  During his residency in Big Sky, his work has also been featured in 60 different publications including Powder Magazine. He finds himself drawn to the light, the way it ignites a situation, brings focus to a subject and impacts mood. Turner is passionate about using light and scenery to create art that can be appreciated in various presentations.

2nd Place Dave Pecunies

From landscapes and wildlife to real estate and sporting events, photographer and videographer Dave Pecunies has captured a multitude of subjects in Big Sky. Pecunies has a passion for skiing and the outdoors and came to Big Sky in 2015 from New England. Now, his gallery in Town Center features several other artists in the new Artists’ Collective gallery.

3rd Place Jonathan Stone

Best Local Musician

1st Place Dammit Lauren!

Dammit Lauren! is a local rock and roll trio with a unique sound which sits at the intersection of 90s alternative rock and “post-grunge.” Lead singer Lauren Jackson, guitarist Brian Stumpf and drummer Casey Folley focus on original music that blends a soulful alternative rock sound, rocking jams and pop hooks. In July 2022, Dammit Lauren! released their second album, “Electric Restlessness.” The local Big Sky band plays at many events in town and at Big Sky Resort, but their resume includes an impressive list of Montana festivals where they’ve opened for bands on national tours like Jamestown Revival, Kitchen Dwellers, The Lil’ Smokies, and Black River Revue.

2nd Place Brian Stumpf

Local musician and former Dirtbag King Brian Stumpf creates the soundtrack for après in restaurants and bars around town. Throughout the pandemic, Stumpf broadcasted popular live shows online to reconnect community members deprived of live music. Stumpf says that with all the change occurring in Big Sky, the people are what still make this a special community. His music remains part of the local culture.  

3rd Place Hanna Powell

Best Outfitter

1st Place Gallatin River Guides

Gallatin River Guides say that “river life is better than real life.” They have been guiding fly-fishing trips across the Big Sky and Bozeman area for more than 30 years, inviting visitors and locals alike to experience our coveted rivers. Gallatin River Guides hosts the Montana Fishing Guide School, teaching anyone how to guide a fishing trip. They also lead the Montana Women’s Fly-Fishing School. Throughout the year, they run half-day, full-day and multi-day fishing expeditions on the Gallatin River and beyond, “wherever fish eat flies,” according to their website. Owner Mike Donaldson grew up fishing in southwest Montana; he and his guides know the secret spots to open doors for beginners and passionate anglers.

2nd Place East Slope Outdoors

Previously called East Slope Anglers and Mad Wolf Ski & Sports since its founding in 1984, East Slope Outdoors has been a staple in the Big Sky community for more than 35 years. Owned by “Super Dave” and Katie Alvin, East Slope offers guided half and full-day fly-fishing trips, floats on the Madison and Yellowstone Rivers and gear rentals.

3rd Place Geyser Whitewater

Upcoming Events

october, 2023

Filter Events

04octAll Day17Fall Community Cleanse(All Day) Santosha Wellness CenterEvent Type :OtherEvent City:Big Sky

04oct7:00 pm9:00 pmTrivia at The Waypoint7:00 pm - 9:00 pm The WaypointEvent Type :OtherEvent City:Big Sky

10oct5:00 pm9:00 pmWine and Dine Tuesdays5:00 pm - 9:00 pm Rainbow Ranch Lodge & RestaurantEvent Type :OtherEvent City:Big Sky

10oct5:30 pm7:00 pmAmerican Legion Off-Season BINGO!5:30 pm - 7:00 pm Riverhouse BBQ & EventsEvent Type :OtherEvent City:Big Sky