Big Sky Resort has become one of the major players in the North American ski industry. Continued investment over the past decade has seen the Montana ski resort accumulate one of the most modern lift fleets in the country, with more impressive replacements on the way. But was this what Big Sky’s founder intended?
Surprisingly, this is arguably not what Chet Huntley, the founder of Big Sky Resort, wanted. Out of the 11,000 acres initially part of the resort, he wanted to keep 70% of it as conservation land. The goal was to avoid the crowds that had become part of other major ski resorts at the time.
Chet became known for being the host of The Huntley–Brinkley Report on NBC, and opened Big Sky Resort in December of 1973. He died only a couple of months afterward, ultimately not allowing him to fulfill his full vision for the ski resort. Boyne Resorts purchased the resort in 1976 and has rapidly modernized Big Sky over the past decade.
SkyLab Media House made a short film about the original vision of the resort, which predominantly features Chet’s interviews describing his ambitions for Big Sky. Called Don’t Change – Chet Huntley’s Vision for Big Sky, the five-minute film features vintage and modern skiing clips and a lot of modern real estate development, all set to the classic tune of Don’t Change by INXS.
Various factors have led to their massive growth. The Bozeman area has seen a meteoric rise, the Yellowstone Club next door to Big Sky has brought many rich people to the area, and Boyne Resorts has seen the potential of the ski resort for a long time. With these factors, it feels like change was ultimately inevitable.
Big Sky has become a bucket list destination for many, including myself, but I can definitely see why locals miss the old days. I imagine Chet would love some of the things that have happened, like the Lone Peak Tram, but also disapprove of all the real estate development.
The video from Skylab Media House is below.
Film Description: “The unique culture and lifestyle of Big Sky’s residents is still alive, but it is changing rapidly. This short film echoes the words of Big Sky’s founder Chet Huntley and his vision for what the community of Big Sky will be, and what it won’t be for future generations. As Chet once said ‘It might be appropriate to go back and just think for a little bit, and do things with longer spaces in between.’ Winning film from the 2023 Big Sky Shootout Film Festival. ”
Image/Video Credits: SkyLab Media House