Best Places to Watch the Sunrise (and Sunset!) in Big Sky
With a name like Big Sky, it's no wonder our community boasts colorful sunrises and sunsets all year long. Whether you're hitting the slopes at Big Sky Resort, refueling on the patio at Riverhouse BBQ & Events, or even visiting nearby Yellowstone National Park, you'll find sunrises that glow with neon hues of orange and red, as well as and-candy sunsets that dapple nearby peaks in soft shades of purple and pink.
So whenever your travels bring you to Big Sky, keep an eye out for the awe-inspiring marvel. We've rounded up five of Big Sky's best places to watch sunrises and sunsets.
Big Sky Resort
Sprawled across the slopes of Lone Peak, Big Sky Resort is among the area’s top spots to see the sunset—and indulge in the alpenglow that bathes the mountain in colorful hues of red, orange, purple, pink, and yellow.
Slopes remain open to skiers and snowboarders until about 5 p.m. each evening, giving the day’s last visitors an up-close look at colorful sunsets. And if you’re off the slopes by late afternoon, enjoy a cocktail and fresh, farm-to-table fare at Everett's 8800—the resort’s upscale eatery that’s home to nearly floor-to-ceiling windows and mostly unimpeded views of Lone Peak.
Riverhouse BBQ & Events
Just south of Big Sky proper, sitting alongside Highway 191 in the Gallatin Canyon, Riverhouse BBQ & Events is a locals’ favorite—and it’s easy to see why: The roadhouse-style eatery dishes heaping plates of Texas-style ‘cue, routinely hosts live sets from local musicians, and boasts a spacious back patio. There, diners can fill up on brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage, and other dishes while enjoying dramatic sunset views; the patio is east-facing so that you won’t see the sunset directly—but there are a few more scenic spots to watch the day’s last light bounce off the snow-capped mountain peaks around Big Sky.
Rainbow Ranch Lodge
The luxe Rainbow Ranch Lodge sits along the Gallatin River and offers epic sunrise and sunset views from nearly every square inch of the picturesque property.
The ranch has been welcoming guests since the 1930s and, today offers a variety of memorable experiences that pair well with those epic views. Overnight stays include riverside and pondside rooms with east-facing patios and balconies, an infinity pool hot tub that sits under the wide-open skies and affords views of the surrounding Gallatin Range, an on-site cocktail bar that showcases nearby peaks from a covered patio, and the Lemondrop Trail—which begins near the ranch and offers top-down, 360-degree views of the broader Gallatin Canyon from its summit.
Peets Hill/Burke Park
Just an hour northeast of Big Sky sits Bozeman and Peets Hill/Burke Park—noted by the Gallatin Valley Land Trust for offering Bozeman's best sunset views.
The land on which the park sits was once a horse pasture and originally destined to be the site of more than 600 homes—but local organizers fought the plan, preserving what is today one of the region's most popular green spaces. Roughly two miles of trails crisscross the park, offering plenty of benches for watching the sunset (to the west) or the alpenglow bounce off the nearby Bridger Range (to the east).
Yellowstone National Park
Big Sky sits about one hour north of West Yellowstone and the western entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Given that so many visitors to Big Sky pair their visit with a trip to the world’s first national park, it only made sense to include a few of our favorite sunrise and sunset spots in Yellowstone.
If you’re an early riser, you’ll find plenty to love before (and at) sunrise. Steam from the hydrothermal features at Mammoth Hot Springs never looks more mysterious than at day’s first light, while wildlife is typically active in the wee hours of the morning throughout Lamar Valley—including bears, elk, bison, and even wolves.
Meanwhile, Sunset always looks impressive through the spray of Old Faithful, the park’s most famous geyser; on summer evenings, you may enjoy solitude at the typically bustling attraction. Grand Loop Road heads through the heart of Hayden Valley, where you might spot wildlife (such as bison, bears, and moose) while watching alpenglow on the peaks and hillsides rising from the Yellowstone River.