Prepare Your Home For Winter


Cold mornings followed by warm sunny afternoons must mean it’s fall in Montana. And with occasional white-tipped mountains, it reminds us that winter is on its way.

Just like we (try to) prepare ourselves for endless ski runs at high elevation, we need to get our homes ready for whatever winter has in store for us this year. In order to protect your investment and keep it in tip-top shape, consider these five suggestions to get your home ready for winter:

home-log-exteriorPrepare the home’s exterior: Making sure everything is in good shape on the outside will help keep the “weather” on the outside, where it belongs. Check gutters to make sure they are clear. Ensure that roof shingles and siding are secure; high winds can loosen them over time. If you have heat tape or something similar to prevent ice dams on the roof, ensure that it’s in working order and secure before it’s covered in snow so it will be effective. Drain irrigation systems, and all exterior spigots if they aren’t frost proof. Water can freeze and crack the fixture.

Weatherproof doors and windows: A simple and inexpensive way to make sure cold air isn’t seeping in is by making sure the weather strips on doors and windows are in good shape. That means not cracked, in one piece, and fitting snugly when the door or window closes. In older homes, adding storm doors and windows adds another layer or weather protection and helps keep energy costs down.

Check the heating system: Furnaces and other heating sources should be serviced annually. Furnace filters need to be cleaned, and the efficiency should be monitored to make sure it’s operating effectively. Gas-burning fireplaces and stoves should be checked and cleaned. Companies like Ambient Air Solutions offer maintenance programs to keep your home on an annual schedule so you don’t have to remember.

Wood Burning Fireplace

Maintain Chimneys: There’s nothing like relaxing in front of a cozy fireplace or wood stove after a successful day on the mountain, but chimneys that are used regularly need to be kept clean of dangerous creosote buildup to prevent chimney fires. Have your chimney swept and inspected for foreign objects each year before you  use it; and if you own a wood stove, make sure and clean it on a very regular basis to keep it energy-efficient.

Stock up on winter necessities: Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure you have salt or ice melt, shovels and other handy items for winter. Many of us wait until the first big storm to rush out and buy them, but we often find the stores are out of stock. It’s never too early once you begin to see those items in the stores. And don’t forget things like candles and matches, and batteries for flashlights in the event of a power loss.

For those who would like some assistance in completing these important items, property management companies like Two Pines Properties and Big Sky Home Management are great resources to help you.

Remember, the sooner you prepare your home for winter, the sooner you can start praying for snow!

Hunting Under the Big Sky

blog_huntingBig game season is upon us in Montana, and with it comes the anticipation of trailing that trophy deer or elk in the pristine Montana wilderness. The area surrounding Big Sky offers amazing opportunities for hunters to practice their sport in some of Montana’s most stunning terrain, including the Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area and the Gallatin National Forest.

Hunting Season Dates
This year, archery season begins September 5, 2015 – October 18, 2015 , depending on the animal, followed closely by rifle season, which opens September 15 for big game animals in most regions. If you were lucky enough to draw a moose or Bighorn sheep tag, those seasons begin mid-September as well. Check Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website for exact dates and current hunting information.

Tips for Safe Hunting in Big Sky Country
Follow these tips to ensure a safe and successful hunting season:

• Never hunt alone: Stick with a group or a partner, or if you must go alone, make sure somebody knows your plan and when they should expect you to return.

• Always carry bear spray and a first aid kit.

• Use firearms responsibly: Don’t point firearms unless you plan to shoot, avoid difficult terrain while carrying a loaded rifle, and always look beyond your target to see what else might be in the line of fire. Keep all firearms unloaded when not in use, and store guns and ammo separately. For more firearm safety tips, visit this link:

• Stay sober: For your sake and others’ avoid alcohol and drugs while you are out in the field. Stay alert and in control, and save the cold beer for when your sitting around the campfire.

• Shape up: Get regular exercise in the off season so that when fall comes around you will be up for hiking long distances. Consider physical training that will help you to prepare for shooting in a variety of positions.

• Check the weather: Make sure your gear and clothing is appropriate to the time of year and your destination. Weather conditions in Montana change quickly, so be sure to bring warmer or weather resistant options as necessary.

• Check your equipment: Keep rifles and equipment maintained and in good condition, and check out everything before you go — same goes for camping and hiking gear.

• Protect man’s best friend: Dogs traveling with your hunting party should wear a hunter orange vest or bandanna for visibility.

• Take it easy: To make for a safer trip, travel at a comfortable pace and stop when necessary. Mistakes and accidents will be less likely if you and your companions maintain a slow and steady approach.

These combined with preparation and common sense will ensure you have a safe and successful hunting season. For guided hunting trips in the Big Sky area, check out these experienced outfitters, who provide anything from shorter, lodge-based trips to more intensive excursions into the backcountry:


Home Roundup: Hunting Properties

Hunting Properties

updated 10/09/15

In the fall, visitors and residents enjoy a wide range of hunting opportunities in Big Sky and beyond, whether it’s big game they’re after, such as deer, antelope, elk, or moose, or small game, such as birds. But how about having your own private Big Sky Country hunting property, something many passionate hunters have probably dreamt about since they started tracking animals. Imagine your own private hunting cabin tucked back into the land you own and love? Imagine walking right out of that back door and directly into the woods.

Here we present some of the finest hunting properties on the market in Montana.

Grizzly Meadows, Emigrant, Montana
Located in the beautiful Paradise Valley, near the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, wildlife abounds on this 626-acre retreat that sits between Emigrant and Gardiner, Montana. Bordering National Forest lands for almost 2 miles, hunters can set out right from the 11,000+ square-foot, 6-bedroom main home owned by Nascar racing team owner Richard Childress. The retreat-style property is perfect for trophy hunting, world-class fishing, hiking, horseback riding, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, four-wheeling, and snowmobiling. The views from all angles include Tom Miner Basin, Yankee Jim Canyon, the Yellowstone River, and the Absaroka Mountain Range. A true outdoorsman’s luxury retreat.

Wolf Creek Homestead, Wolf Creek, Montana
Located Between Helena and Great Falls, Montana, this grand mountain log home on 320 private acres is nestled into the timbered hillside, surrounded by wild lands. This outdoorsman’s dream home has plenty of storage for toys in the well-insulated 3-car garage and shop, along with hunting access and year-round springs and creeks running through. The 3-bedroom main house features stellar mountain views, hardwood floors, and detailed finishes throughout. Located right next to the creek is a log guest cabin with propane heat and no running water—the perfect accommodations for the hard-core hunters out there.

Gallatin Canyon North 5CN
Looking for your dream home in Big Sky? This fabulous 2,124 Sq. Ft., 3 BR, 2 BA home in the Gallatin Canyon. Located five miles from the entrance to Big Sky, near the Gallatin National Forest, no covenants or zoning! Enjoy pristine views of the surrounding mountains while sitting on your wrap around deck and the might Gallatin River. This home also has vaulted ceilings, jacuzzi tubs, attached garage and a guest apartment. Back door access to hiking, hunting, and skiing.

Fall Hiking in Yellowstone

Fall Hiking in YellowstoneThere’s nothing like Yellowstone National Park in the fall: cooler temperatures, evolving colors, fewer crowds, and the rare opportunity to spot young wildlife of all types. Read on for details about three not-too-challenging day hikes that will satisfy your urge to explore the Yellowstone backcountry, but still allow you to be back in Big Sky by dinner.

Mystic Falls
A trip to Yellowstone wouldn’t feel right without a visit to Old Faithful, no matter how many times you’ve seen it. Extend your visit to the area, and escape the other visitors, with a hike to Mystic Falls, one of the most beautiful and accessible waterfalls in the park that is located approximately two miles north of Old Faithful. At the fork in the main trail, take a left for an easygoing route past the Sapphire Pool and along the Firehole River, culminating in a majestic view of the falls. For a slightly longer, more strenuous hike, continue on and up through the switchbacks until you reach the overlook. Here you will get a stunning view of the geyser basins, an area known for having the highest concentration of geysers in the world.

Lone Star Geyser
Head south from Old Faithful for a slightly longer, more strenuous hike to the Lone Star Geyser, which erupts approximately every three hours for about 30 minutes. Before you leave Old Faithful, check with the visitor center to see if they have a record of the last eruption so you can try to time your visit just right. From the trailhead off of West Thumb Road, hike about 2.5 miles along the river (bikes are allowed on this trail too) and make a right at the junction with the Spring Creek Trail until you reach your destination. If you’re headed back through Old Faithful, stop back by the visitor center and let them know the time of the eruption you may have witnesses so the next visitor will get in on the excitement as well!

Artists’ Paint Pots
To visit one of Yellowstone’s more unusual and colorful geothermal attractions, take this super quick and easy hike located approximately 10 miles north of Madison Junction off of Madison-Norris Road. Watch for bison, elk, and red-winged blackbirds as you cross the meadow and into the forest. The trail then loops up and around Paintpot Hill, offering views of the bubbling mud pots from all angles before connecting back to the main trail.

Be sure to follow these hiking guidelines in order to stay safe and minimize your impact in Yellowstone National Park:

• Check weather and park alerts before getting on the trail
• Carry water and snacks
• Wear appropriate shoes and layered clothing
• Pack bug spray and bear spray
• Hike at a comfortable pace and stay on designated trails

Visit these links for more hiking safety tips and details about day hiking in Yellowstone:

Big Sky Fly Fishing Adventures


Fishing season is upon us my friends.

As the hot weather sets in and the water levels, well, level out, there’s nothing better than spending a day wading or floating the river. Fly fishing in Big Sky, Montana is almost too good to be true due to the combination of cooler mornings and evenings, and an abundance of trout in the area’s blue-ribbon fishing waters. Then there’s the variety of fishing in the area, with mountain lakes and the Gallatin, Madison, and Yellowstone Rivers within range.

The Gallatin River is Big Sky’s fishing hot spot (where the infamous fishing film “A River Runs Through It” was filmed), but where exactly to drop your line in is often the biggest questions to those who are newer to the area. This is where the seasoned local guides come in. With a number of fly fishing outfitters in Big Sky, many offering trips locally and to some of the more far reaching rivers and lakes, fishermen and women of all levels can explore the region’s best fishing holes. Many of the outfitters also offer beginning or introductory fly-fishing workshops, starting with casting lessons on land and in the area’s small ponds.

Here’s the lowdown on fly-fishing outfitters in the Big Sky area:

Big Sky Trout
Location: Grizzly Outfitters, Big Sky’s Town Center
Contact: (406) 579-7094

Guided walk wade and float trips on area rivers, including the Madison, Bighole, and Beaverhead, and by permit in Yellowstone National Park. Located in Grizzly Outfitters, which also sells outdoor clothing and equipment.

Cache Creek Outfitters
Location: 7850 Bridger Canyon Rd.
Contact: (406) 995-3888

Fishing and horseback riding adventures, with permits for the Madison and Gallatin Ranges, and the Spanish Creek and Hilgard Basin areas. Take a trail ride through the Gallatin National Forest and fish the high alpine lakes.

East Slope Outdoors
Location: 32B Town Center Ave., Big Sky
Contact: (406) 995-4369

A year-round outdoor equipment store, with fishing gear and guide services on the Gallatin, Madison, and Yellowstone Rivers.

Gallatin River Guides
Location: 47430 Gallatin Rd., Big Sky
Contact: (406) 995-2290

Located in the Canyon area of Big Sky, they provide guide services, flies, equipment, rentals, and instruction in the area, along with riverside accommodations for groups of up to six.

Lone Mountain Ranch
Location: 750 Lone Mountain Ranch Rd., Big Sky
Contact: (406) 995-4644

The historic Lone Mountain Ranch is an ORVIS endorsed fly-fishing lodge with year-round guided fly-fishing trips for their guests.

Lone Peak Outfitters
Location: 3603 Laredo Dr. Bozeman,
Contact: (406) 599-9158

Guided fly fishing adventures throughout the Greater Yellowstone area, also providing equipment, if needed, and lodging.

Wild Trout Outfitters
Location: Hwy 191, 1/2 Mile South of Stop Light, Big Sky
Contact: (406) 995-2975

A fly shop with equipment and guide services with trips on the Gallatin, Madison, Yellowstone, Missouri Rivers, Yellowstone National Park and area Spring Creeks.