Held in Whitefish, Montana at the gateway to Glacier National Park, Under the Big Sky is a country and folk music festival that takes place at a ranch in the mountains. Montana is already at the top of the list for summer RV destinations, and this unforgettable two-day festival offers yet another reason to pack up your camping gear and head to Big Sky country.
Under the Big Sky is more than just a music festival; it’s an authentic Montana experience set on a 350-acre ranch that serves as an amphitheater. While you’re at this event, you can dance to nationally known and upcoming artists, watch rodeo events, enjoy food and drinks, go for a walk in nature, or just sit back and marvel at the alpine scenery. This family-friendly festival draws music and mountain lovers of all ages.
For RVers, this event also serves as a jumping-off point to RV camping destinations like Glacier, as well as Waterton Lakes National Park just across the Canadian border and Yellowstone National Park to the south. The town of Whitefish is also a summertime paradise dotted with old western saloons, restaurants serving bison, elk, and huckleberry pie, and gift shops stocked with Montana delights.
Expect tickets for Under the Big Sky to go on sale at least six months before the event, with prices increasing as summer draws closer. Choose between two-day general admission tickets or two-day VIP tickets, which provide upgraded parking, restrooms, and VIP areas and usually include access to a VIP barn and beer garden (these tickets are 21+ for this reason). General admission tickets are typically priced between $100 and $120 depending on how early you purchase them, and VIP tickets will usually cost around $250.
Under the Big Sky is held at Big Mountain Ranch on the outskirts of Whitefish, Montana. The venue is about three miles from downtown and about nine miles from the Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell. Whitefish is surrounded by mountain wilderness, so expect slow backroad-style driving as opposed to big city highways. Summer can bring tourists to the area, so you certainly won’t be the only person on the road with an RV.
Parking at the event is divided into separate lots for general admission ticket holders and VIP ticket holders. There is also a separate area for shuttles, buses, and rideshares to drop you off at the event, making it possible, and perhaps even preferable, to leave your RV at your chosen campground in the Whitefish area and find alternate transportation to the Under the Big Sky Festival. While the region is known for welcoming RVers, you may want to consider traveling in a smaller campervan or be prepared to use a tow vehicle if parking at Big Mountain Ranch is preferred.
Whitefish was once a remote mountain town without the amenities of a big city, but as it has grown into a popular vacation destination, transportation options have flourished. In addition to a shuttle provided to and from Whitefish by the festival organizers, you will also find several rideshare options and locally run taxi services.
There is no RV camping onsite at the Under the Big Sky Festival. However, nearby camping options are widely available, as Whitefish and the surrounding area cater to those who love spending time in the outdoors. You can expect to find both nearby RV parks and more rustic accommodations the further you travel from town.
Nearby campgrounds include locations in Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Kalispell, Hungry Horse, West Glacier, and East Glacier. All of these are great choices if you’re looking for an RV campground that gives you access to the amenities of a town set against a mountain backdrop. Whitefish Lake State Park sits just under 10 miles to the west with plenty for every camper to enjoy, and Whitefish / Kalispell North KOA is about the same distance but to the south.
If you’d rather dive into the wilderness, you’ll find camping in Glacier National Park about 25 miles to the east. Not all campgrounds are RV-friendly in the park and are typically first-come, first-served. Accommodations are in high demand in Whitefish in the summer, so book early and have a back-up campground in mind if you’re hoping to stay somewhere that doesn’t take reservations.
When it comes to getting to and from the festival, using a shuttle or rideshare service will be easiest. If you ride a bicycle to the event, you can take advantage of a bike valet. This is a grassy setting on a ranch, but the event organizers will provide ADA entrances and viewing areas. Keep in mind that there is no re-entry to the festival once you exit.
Summertime in Whitefish is western paradise, so pack clothes for warm summer days and don’t be afraid of cowboy boots and fringe. Sunglasses and a hat are recommended, as are comfortable shoes. Bring layers for after the sun goes down in Montana. This event is rain or shine, so bring a rain jacket just in case.
Bring a picnic blanket for lounging in the grass or a camping chair if you prefer. Chairs must have low backs. You are welcome to bring a small parasol for sun protection, but umbrellas and tents are not permitted. Pack a small backpack (no larger than 18 inches tall in recent years) with sunscreen, bug spray, your wallet, and cell phone.
Event organizers recommend bringing chapstick and eye drops for the dry mountain climate. Bring a reusable water bottle so that you can stay hydrated. Under the Big Sky provides water refill stations. Medications must be in their original containers. The festival offers a designated space for insulin storage.
Cooking is not permitted at the event, but a wide variety of food vendors will be on site. Depending on where you camp with your RV in the Whitefish area, outdoor cooking may or may not be allowed by an open flame. Montana is bear country, so expect restrictions related to campground cooking and food storage, especially if grizzly activity has recently been reported. Whitefish and Kalispell both offer several grocery stores and camping stores.
Restaurants in Whitefish are known for offering regional cuisine, including drinks and desserts made with local huckleberries and cherries, steaks fit for cowboys, and Montana-made beers. Venture outside of Whitefish, and you’ll find restaurants run by Blackfeet Tribal members that serve native specialties like frybread. Glacier National Park also offers a number of historic lodges with restaurants inside.
Under the Big Sky features a wide range of food vendors, including plant-based options for vegetarians and vegans. There will also be a general store for other essentials. Most vendors are able to accept credit cards, but you may want to bring cash as well. There will also be an ATM at Big Mountain Ranch.
There will be security at the festival as well as police officers. In the interest of safety, the event does not permit guns, knives, drugs, laser pointers, glass bottles, lighters, cigarettes, chains, drones, hula hoops, or anything that might be used as a weapon. If you notice something suspicious, please inform a security guard.
Folks who associate Montana with snow and cold may be surprised by just how warm the Big Sky State can be in the summer. Expect temperatures in the 70s, 80s, or even the 90s, plus abundant sunshine. Thunderstorms and even hail can occur. Summer wildfires are also a possibility during especially dry years and can cause unpleasant smoky conditions.
First-aid stations are situated throughout Under the Big Sky Festival. Please refer to the festival map online for specific locations, or ask someone on staff at the event. The nearest major hospital is about 20 miles away in Kalispell, but you will also find smaller medical centers in Whitefish and surrounding towns, plus several pharmacies in Whitefish.