Big Sky bar entertains locals in off season

By CHELSEA ANDERSON/Montana State News

The Gallatin Riverhouse Grill in Big Sky is hosting its fourth semiannual series of free bingo nights for this upcoming spring off-season.

Twice a year, Montana’s bustling Big Sky Resort closes down for five weeks and transforms the ski destination from a town filled with ski bums and mountain bikers into a quiet, sleepy borough.

When the time comes for the resort to close for the season and the tourist inflow slows to a halt, Big Sky’s population falls drastically. As a result of stagnant business, several stores and restaurants close down for the slow five weeks until the resort re-opens and the tourism picks back up.

While the town is bereft of tourists for those five weeks, the locals remain, and a handful of businesses stay open to service the year-round residents. One such business, the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill, will stay open for the whole off-season to serve the local population.

The barbeque joint will host its fourth semiannual series of free bingo nights. Even during the height of the season, when Big Sky is full of tourists, the Riverhouse operates as more of a local haunt than a tourist attraction. It features live music on weekends and has volleyball courts below the deck that boast a view of the beautiful Gallatin River.

This spring’s off-season is only a few weeks away, with the resort closing on April 17.  Many of Big Sky’s notable restaurants, including Olive B’s and Michelangelo’s, will be closing down as the seasonal residents and tourists file out of Big Sky.

Kyle Wisniewski, co-owner of the Riverhouse Grill, praises the success of previous bingo nights: “It’s been an increasing success every year.” With the lack of people and attractions in Big Sky during the off-season, it’s easy for locals to succumb to boredom. Events like free bingo nights are catered directly towards locals, Wisniewski says. “Ninety percent are locals coming and the rest are family and friends of locals.”

Dates for the bingo nights have yet to be set, so to stay in the loop visit their Facebook page ( or website (

– edited by Cullan Staack


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