by Jamie Rankin
Welcome to Bozeman, where the human-to-hound ratio seems to be 1:1. Bozeman is well-equipped with plenty of places to get you and your dog outside together. So tell your furry friend to load up, grab some treats and poop bags, and head to some of the area’s best dog-friendly spots.
Off-Leash Dog Parks
Snowfill Recreation Area has over two miles of trails to explore, all contained within the fences of the park. It’s Bozeman’s largest dog park, with benches, a water station, restrooms, and hills to get your pup’s heart pumping. Snowfill sits at the base of the Bridgers, so the views are great throughout the area.
Head to Gallatin Regional Park on the west side of town for another dog park with lots of space for both human and canine to exercise. A trail loops around the perimeter, so you can walk laps while Bridger explores and says hello to new friends. You’ll find open fields, a swimming pond, and a creek flowing through. Make sure your car is prepared for muddy paws.
Maxi Park is located right outside of Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter. Closer to Belgrade, this park takes a few extra minutes to drive to, but Luna will thank you as she runs around the 15-acre, fenced-in plot.
Cooper Park sits between MSU and downtown Bozeman. Off-leash dogs are allowed here, but be mindful of other folks having picnics, playing yard games, or visiting the park without a four-legged sidekick. There are benches, picnic tables, a drinking fountain, and garbage cans.
Peets Hill sees foot traffic from just about every resident and hound in Bozeman. This is a great spot to get a quick hike in without leaving town. It’s less than a mile to the top, and you’ll be rewarded with a 360-degree view of Bozeman and the surrounding mountains.
If you’re looking to explore beyond the fences of town, check out Drinking Horse, Sourdough, or Lava Lake for off-leash opportunities galore. These popular hikes offer beautiful views and the peace of mind that people expect to see dogs around every corner.
One could argue Bozeman’s trusty canines are better behaved than some of the town’s anthropoid newcomers. You’ll likely see off-leash dogs on just about every trail in Bozeman (regardless of the official rules), so use discretion when deciding if Max can run free. Be considerate to bikers and runners during the warmer months, skiers in the cooler months, and wildlife year-round. If your dog often leaves your sight or doesn’t join you after the first or second “come” command, it’s probably best use a leash for now.
Don’t be surprised if you get scolded by another human for not picking up Lily’s poop—or even worse, leaving a bag on the side of the trail. Pack an extra bag to conceal the smell and take it with you. If that’s too much to ask, fling it off into the woods away from the trail, without wrapping it in plastic. Better yet, train her to go well away from the trail in the first place.