Big Sky CountryIyna Bort Caruso
Montana is one of the largest states in size and sparsest in density in the United States. The population barely tops one million. Vacation home buyers looking for big sky drives and untamed outdoor adventures find it in this four-season playground of protected lands, national parks and historic sites.
This is the home of Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake and three of the five entrances to Yellowstone National Park. Big-time ski resorts give downhill and cross-country enthusiasts access to millions of snow-covered acres. Another perk Montanans enjoy: no sales tax.
Fast-growing Gallatin County is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. A substantial percentage of county land is publically owned. The area has a thriving technology sector with more than 90 high tech firms are located here.
The Gallatin County region boasts 300 days of sunshine and 400 feet of snow. Powder hounds love the combination. The absence of lift lines makes it even better. And there’s plenty of recreational opportunities beyond the slopes including fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking and golf.
The surroundings may be rugged but the real estate options are positively luxurious with such developments as Big Sky Resort, Moonlight Basin and The Yellowstone Club offering private ranches, slope-side chalets, custom homes and base lodge condos. The Yellowstone Club is the world’s only private ski and golf community. Members have access to their own private powder, a Tom Weiskopf-designed 18-hole golf course, fitness center, heated pool and spa.
Gallatin’s county seat is the city of Bozeman, home to Montana State University and one of the largest cities in the southwest part of the state with a population of about 36,000. Transplants like it for the sprawling ranches and access to blue ribbon fly fishing rivers. Bozeman’s desirability is reflected in escalating real estate prices for riverfront properties, sporting estates and ranches.
In northwest Montana is the popular Flathead Valley, another four-season destination. Second-home owners flock here for the premier golf courses, pristine lakes and rivers and world-class skiing (of course). The expansive winter palette of ski terrain can feel like a personal slope. Twenty-eight mile long Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. Choice communities include the historic railroad town of Whitefish, just 50 miles south of the Canadian border, and the town of Bigfork, designated as one of the best small art towns in the West. Both offer Montana hospitality and western flair. Whitefish Hills, a gated community, is emblematic of the choice residential properties here.
Montana is served by direct flights by major carriers to many U.S. cities. But its charm is that it can feel like uncharted territory.