The Big Mountain Out Our Backdoor: Lone Mountain Geology

Posted on October 2, 2018 by calliep

The Big Mountain Out Your Backdoor

Even to a hardened alpinist, Lone Peak is a stunning sight. Nestled in the heart of Montana’s rugged Madison Range, Lone Peak, home to Big Sky Resort, is solitary, hulking and gorgeous to behold throughout Montana’s distinct four seasons. But its unique beauty begs a lot of questions. Like, why is Lone Mountain so, well, lonely? And what makes it such a perfect venue for one the the country’s best ski resorts? The answers to these burning questions lie in the faults.


Our backyard, including Lone Peak and the Madison Range, is made up of 1.7 million year old deposits left over by the Yellowstone Caldera’s last explosion. As you drive north from Big Sky along the Gallatin River towards Bozeman, take note of the towering rock fins. Beloved by climbers and hikers alike, much of the exposed rock throughout Gallatin canyon is some of the oldest on the face of the earth.

Big Sky and Fan Mountain


Lone Mountain itself is a volcano that never erupted. While we enjoy skiing, biking, golfing and fishing in Big Sky, our home was a volcanic battle zone some 50 million years ago. The stunning scenery we love is the result of this chaotic geologic period in earth’s history. What was once a burning hot hell-scape is now a powder skiing mecca.

 Lone Peak at Big Sky Resort

Much of Lone Mountain is made up of an igneous rock called Dacite. Dacite is crystalized magma that spread throughout the cone of Lone Mountain all those years ago, giving the peak its solid shape. The hard minerals and rocks in Lone Mountain survived weathering and erosion, unlike the soft sedimentary rock that once surrounded the peak, leaving our beloved ski resort standing tall.


Whether you’re skiing Big Sky as a visitor, or gazing at its flanks from inside a Big Sky Sotheby’s represented home, understanding the geology at work inside Lone Mountain helps enhance our appreciation for our home.


Sunset in Big Sky

 Photos Courtesy of Dave Pecunies Photography







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