Casual, friendly, and cool, Bozeman, Montana is a magnet to everyone and anyone seeking a renewing and relaxing day. From the great outdoors, to a lively art scene, to a rural Montana experience, this town has it all. Here are five charming and accessible things to do in and around Bozeman, MT:
Sitting a little over an hour away from Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national park, Bozeman is an outdoor Promised Land. It’s a pilgrimage many outdoorsmans make, and activities like fly fishing, skiing, hiking, rock climbing, and more call them to stay.
According to Montana Angler, Bozeman fly fishing is considered to be the best in Montana. Where else can you live within 20 minutes of multiple blue ribbon rivers, spring creeks, and lakes such as the Madison, Yellowstone, and Gallatin Rivers, that are rated some of the top wild trout fisheries in North America? Answer: only in Bozeman. Local guides can bring you on float trips, wade fishing, private ranch trips, whitewater canyon fishing, overnight river trips, and backcountry wilderness fly fishing. If fly fishing is the question, then Bozeman is the answer.
You can sate all your skiing needs with Bozeman, Montana skiing. Bridger Bowl Ski Area is a 20 minute drive from downtown Bozeman. An all day ticket for an adult (13 – 69) is $63 and an adult unlimited all season skiing pass goes for a sale price of $750. Needless to say, Bridger Bowl is affordable and offers a wide variety of skiing, from first-time beginner slopes in the base area, to wide-open intermediate runs in the center, to advanced open bowl terrain in the upper third. Big Sky Resort is a short drive from Bozeman and is a world class skiing resort with 300 degrees skiing access off of Lone Peak. Big Sky is more expensive than Bridger Bowl, with tickets fluctuating over $100; however Big Sky is a world-class, phenomenal resort that’s calling your name.
If downhill skiing isn’t your thing, Bozeman cross country skiing is extremely accessible. The Bridger Ski Foundation grooms free cross country trail systems in and around Bozeman, and the Lone Mountain Ranch— voted number one Nordic ski resort in North America by Cross Country Skier— is a short drive from Bozeman on a wintry day.
Bozeman, MT is a hiker’s dream. You don’t have to go far to be immersed in wilderness, following mountain trails to vantage points with panoramic views of the Gallatin Valley and beyond. Recommended Bozeman hiking trails include Palisade Falls, Triple Tree Trail, and a trail you can see from all over Bozeman: the M Trail.These three trails are moderate to easy, and welcoming for all ages. There are many more trails ranging from easy to hard; you can make Bozeman hiking as effortless or as difficult as you want. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, there’s also a world of backcountry to explore safely. A hike in Bozeman can be as simple as lacing up your hiking boots and walking out your back door.
Rock climbing in Bozeman, MT, ranges from a hobby to a lifestyle. Any place Conrad Anker, famed rock climbing and mountaineer, calls home must be a big deal as far as mountains go. For non-outdoor climbing, Spire Climbing and Fitness Center offers walls from 12 to 50 feet for all ages and abilities and is great for any level of training. Outdoor climbing in Bozeman can be reached within minutes after a long day at work (like Practice Rock) or catch some outdoor climbing to the south of Bozeman at Gallatin Canyon, which has a variety of climbing on varied rock, ranging from granite and gneiss multi-pitch trad lines to limestone sport climbing. If you want big mountains to climb, Paradise Valley (only an hour from Bozeman) gives you an unforgettable alpine experience.
Restaurants, Cafes, and Breweries
To all the foodies out there, Bozeman has a renowned, diverse culinary scene. For breakfast options, choose between a western, down-home breakfast, like the Storm Castle Café, all the way to Jam, a hip, contemporary diner you’d expect to find in a city like San Francisco. Bozeman has many restaurants that are food allergy friendly, such as Lot G, which offers gluten-free menu items for people with dietary restrictions. This city’s food ranges from Montana Steak Houses, like Open Range, to raw bars and world cuisine, such as Feast. Montana also ranks second in the nation in terms of breweries per capita. So, when you grab a drink with friends, make a list and work your way down because Bozeman has more than ten breweries to choose from. In summary, if you have a wide range of cravings and an open mind, Bozeman is the place for you.
Music On Main
Every Thursday evening late June to early August, Historic Downtown Bozeman hosts the annual free Music on Main summer concert series. Food vendors, local stores, and popular local and regional musicians and bands flock to get a spot to entertain Bozeman. From “Kid’s Zone” to bars and breweries, there is something enjoyable for everyone. This is a community event you can’t miss.
The Museum of the Rockies
The Museum of the Rockies (MOR) is a non-profit institution, a college-level division of Montana State University, a Smithsonian Affiliate, and a storehouse for federal and state found fossils. Visitors enjoy exhibits from around the world that change often, from natural and regional history exhibits, to planetarium shows, to educational programs and camps, to insightful lectures, and more. MOR received the 2020 Best Place to Impress Out of Town Guests Reader’s Choice Award from Bozeman Magazine.
The Bozeman Art Museum
The Bozeman Art Museum (BAM) is the first fine art Museum in Bozeman, Montana, and it offers changing art exhibits throughout the year in hopes of helping others experience the “transformative power of art.” Located on Main St., it is an easy find and a thought provoking visit.
The American Computer and Robotics Museum
Dr. Edward Wilson, a Harvard professor, had this to say about the American Computer and Robotics Museum in Bozeman, “Inch for inch, the best museum in the world.” The exhibit spans over 4,000 years of human history and technologies. From original cuneiform tablets to modern day computing and covering topics such as the Space Race and Artificial Intelligence, this museum is fascinating and one of the oldest, operating museums of its kind,it’s a hidden gem for any museum goers in the Bozeman area.
Visit Rural Montana
Bozeman plays a key part in the overall Montana experience, but there are also many other small towns ranging from an hour to a few hours drive from Bozeman that can add exploring pieces to your Montana puzzle. Here are some:
Livingston is about a 30 minute drive east from Bozeman. This mountain town is ideal for a quiet getaway. There are a few museums, like the Yellowstone Gateway Museum in what was at one point the Historic North Side School. If you get hungry, enjoy Faye’s Cafe or get a drink at Neptune’s Brewery. Perhaps you want an open road and the windows down getaway; to the south of Livingston, the Paradise Valley Scenic Loop takes you on an unforgettable drive along the Yellowstone River. The Absaroka Range rises from the valley floor and the Gallatin Range looms in the distance. This drive can also be an unusual, less populated route to Yellowstone National Park.
Virginia City, MT
Montana’s very much alive ghost town lies a little over an hour from Bozeman. Rich placer diggings were discovered here in 1863 and the town boomed. Once the gold ran out, the town became frozen in time because there was enough money to keep it alive but not to keep up with remodeling, hence it is a living reflection of Victorian era Montana. A visit to Virginia City brings many forms of entertainment such as historic period dress and skills, outdoor recreation, tours, and even the oldest operational opera house west of the Mississippi where there are live performances and events, such as Bale Beer Fest or the High Tea-Grand Victorian Ball.
White Sulphur Springs, MT
About an hour and a half drive from Bozeman, White Sulphur Springs is a lesser known Montana town. Take a trip up, get some food or drinks at The Jawbone or the Basset Brewery, and meet some of the locals. In the summer, golf at the Arrowheads Meadows golf course or visit the Castle and Carriage House Museum. Running nearby this town, the Smith River is one of Montana’s prized possessions, so popular that a permit through lottery is required to float it. While you may not be able to float the Smith River, there is the Smith River Region Backcountry Drive that takes visitors through the heart of the Smith River region of Montana. It is a unique and enjoyable drive through a part of Montana people rarely see.
Red Lodge, MT
This town is the gateway to Yellowstone National Park via the Beartooth Highway, dubbed “the most beautiful roadway in America” by “On the Road” correspondent Charles Kuralt. This highway takes you almost 11,000 feet above sea level and is worth every minute of the two and a half hour drive from Bozeman. A must stop is the Bear Creek Saloon, so make a reservation and enjoy some good food and bet on some pig races. That’s right, pig racing. However, if pig racing isn’t your thing, many of the bars and restaurants have live music, like The Pollard Hotel or The Snag Bar. Red Lodge is renowned for its stunning scenery and hometown hospitality.
Enjoy your time in and around Bozeman, and come back soon. The light is always on here.