Category Archives: Around the Bozone

Bozeman Bucket List

by the editors

It’s impossible, even in a lifetime of living in Bozeman, to do it all. That being said, there are a few must-dos to tick off as soon as possible, for a proper enrollment into the outdoor life of the Bozone. Here’s a starter list to accelerate your initiation.


Hike the M

Bike to Mystic Lake

Run whitewater on the Gallatin

Rock climb at Practice Rock

Join the bikini hatch on the Madison River

Catch a trout on the Yellowstone

Hike, run, or ride the Main Street to the Mountains trails

Enter a classic local trail race (Baldy Blitz, Bridger Trail Run, Ridge Run, etc.)


Hunt elk in the mountains

Stay in a backcountry cabin or yurt

Soak in the Boiling River

Sled down Peets Hill

Cross-country ski in Hyalite

Ski the Ridge at Bridger Bowl

Ride the Big Sky tram up Lone Peak

Town Trails

by the editors

Around Bozeman, trailheads are everywhere—but did you know that dozens of trails run right through town? They’re part of the Main Street to the Mountains trail system, and you can hop on these- in-town trails nearly anywhere. Whether you’re sneaking in a mid-day run or a half-day biking excursion, here are a few options to consider.

The Gallagator
This trail connects Bogert Park and Peets Hill to the MSU campus on the south end of town. It follows Bozeman Creek for much of its length, passing the Langhor gardens and climbing boulder along the way. Numerous access points exist along the length of this trail; the main one is at the base of Peets Hill.

Peets Hill
If you’re on a quick jaunt or dog-walk on the Gallagator, be sure check out Peets Hill. It’s not only a popular spot to gaze out over the valley, but offers sledding in the winter and picture-perfect sunsets year-round. Peets Hill also makes a great jumping-off point, as it connects to Lindley Park and the Highland Glen trails.

Highland Glen
A newer addition to Bozeman’s trail system, Highland Glen Nature Preserve offers singletrack for bikers, runners, and dog-walkers alike. It has three access points: at the sports complex off Haggerty Ln., via Hyalite View Trail above the hospital, and near the Painted Hills trailhead off Kagy. These trails are groomed in the winter for cross-country skiing.

East Gallatin Rec Area
This easy trail meanders around Glen Lake and through thick forest along the East Gallatin River. This is the perfect spot for a quick mid-day lap or a leisurely day spent in the water and sun. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, amble over to Map Brewing for some grub and a growler.

Story Hills
The Story Hills rise moderately from the northeast corner of town. Though private, this property is open to the public during daylight hours. The sunny single-track is great for in-town biking, running, or dog-walking with nice views of the town and valley. It’s often busy, so hit it early in the morning or for a nice sunset stroll.

For longer outings, use the town trails to connect to these popular spots just outside city limits.

M Trail
At the mouth of Bridger Canyon is the landmark M, created by Montana State University students in 1915. There are two routes to the M from the trailhead. A steep, direct path branches right at the first junction, where an easier and longer ascent makes a hard left. This trail is very popular—the views of the Gallatin Valley are spectacular, and hikers use the trail as a lunchbreak loop or out-and-back.

Drinking Horse
Drinking Horse Mountain is the prominent hill across from the M. Its trail starts out meandering along the fish hatchery to a bridge over Bridger Creek, after which a junction presents two options. Going left puts you on a steeper ascent, with multiple switchbacks and plentiful shade. The path to the right is longer and more gradual, with open views of the Gallatin Range. Drinking Horse is a dog-friendly trail; however, keep in mind the high density of people and pups when deciding whether to let your dog off the leash. 

Triple Tree
Use the Painted Hills trail off Kagy to connect to Triple Tree, a shaded loop trail in the Gallatin foothills. The trail crosses Limestone Creek several times as it winds its way up to an overlook with gorgeous valley views.

Deal Me In

by the editors

The true dirtbag ski/trout bums of Old Bozeman may be gone, but the spirit of spending every last dime on gear remains. Sure, some things are worth full price; but for others, it pays to shop smart. Here’s how to maximize enjoyment while minimizing cash outlay.

First thing, start with this guide. Part of its purpose is to make life easier for newcomers to Bozeman’s outdoor scene, and one way we do that is by dedicating a large section to cash-saving coupons. Flip to the back, clip the coupons, save money—it’s that simple.

For straight-up retail shopping, hunt around for the big sales. Downtown Bozeman hosts summer and winter Crazy Days, a long weekend each season dedicated to inventory-liquidating sales along Main Street, including outdoor stores. Big holiday sales occur throughout the year, as well. To really save cash, buy gear post-season—for example, snagging new skis in the spring, when stores are trying to scuttle leftover winter gear, can mean up to 50% off.

Another option is gear swaps. There’s a ski swap in November hosted by the Bridger Ski Foundation, a bike swap in spring put on by the Gallatin Valley Bicycle Club, and a boat swap in May at the Barn. All three swaps have huge inventories at massive discounts, and you can sell your used gear, too. Just make sure to show up early, ‘cause the best stuff goes fast.

As one might expect, Bozeman’s pawn shops teem with used gear and apparel. There are even a few second-hand stores devoted entirely to outdoor equipment. Area thrift stores are loaded with hidden treasures, too. Spend some time perusing the inventory, and make it a habit to stop by different stores every so often—new goods arrive daily, and the best deals are all about timing.

Sometimes gear is cost-prohibitive regardless of the price. Or maybe you’re not sure you’re going to like a new sport, in which case it pays to try before you buy. If you’re an MSU student or alumnus, hit the Outdoor Rec Center for the best prices. Otherwise, check out any of the half-dozen rental outfits around town, for everything from mountain bikes to whitewater rafts.

Lend a Hand

by Cordelia Pryor

Although you may not be a longtime local, while you’re in Bozeman, you’re part of this community. What better way to say thanks than to volunteer your time at local nonprofits? Throughout the year, they need your help doing the important, altruistic work that they do. Whatever gets you out there, remember there are few better feelings than contributing to a cause that’s making a difference.

Cleanup Days
At different points throughout the year, local groups get together to tidy our trails, clean our rivers, and keep Bozeman beautiful. Give back by joining them and learn about proper outdoor etiquette while you’re out there. Friends of Hyalite hosts two cleanup days—one in the spring, one in the fall—to tidy Bozeman’s backyard playground. The Gallatin River Weed Pull keeps our valley’s namesake river clean, and Cleanup Bozeman is a city-centered service day before summer. Poke around the internet to learn more.

Big Sky Youth Empowerment
BSYE pairs mentors with 8th- through 12th-graders to participate in activities such as skiing, rock-climbing, and hiking to build confidence, create connections, and teach teens how to overcome challenges in both the outdoors and their own lives. By becoming a mentor, you’ll provide a role model for young people as they navigate life’s sometimes-muddy waters.

Eagle Mount
Eagle Mount is another powerful organization right here in Bozeman that has made a huge impact. Every year, more than 2,000 volunteers serve over 1,700 youth participants who are disabled or battling cancer. Volunteering for Eagle Mount gives you the opportunity to empower young people who otherwise might not have opportunities to ski, horseback ride, or otherwise spend time under Montana’s big sky.

Gallatin Valley Land Trust
Our public lands get plenty of use, which means they need a little TLC from time to time. Every spring, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust hosts maintenance days on the in-town trails to prep them for the long summer ahead. And every summer during the Trail Challenge, Bozemanites take to the trails and log miles, each one donating real money to GVLT and its mission.

Warriors and Quiet Waters
At Quiet Waters Ranch, volunteers aid post-9/11 combat veterans and their families, military caregivers, and active-duty special-operations personnel. By eliminating physical barriers, they promote healing and resilience through participation in a therapeutic fly-fishing experience.

Acts of service don’t have to be big or even organized, really. One of the best things you can do for our community is small acts of TLC around town and on the trails. If you see trash, pick it up. Reassure a nervous or exhausted hiker, help a fellow biker fix his chain, pull a stuck vehicle out of the ditch. One of the things that makes Bozeman so great is the people—you’re one of us now, so take that seriously.

Park It

by Maggie Slepian

Montana’s weather is notoriously volatile—not to mention brutal—so when the sun comes out, it makes sense for you to get out, as often and for as long as possible. On those bright, warm days, take advantage of Bozeman’s many parks by setting up a hammock, taking the dog out for a jaunt, or lounging under the trees. Remember to follow all posted leash rules, pick up after your pup, and be considerate of other park-goers.

This northside park has picnic tables, lush green grass for napping or Frisbee-throwing, and basketball courts for working up a sweat. On-site is a charming old building that’s available to rent, on the cheap, for meetings, receptions, seminars, or dance parties. In the winter, the city floods the park for outdoor skating.

Bogert has tennis courts, a pool and playground, a huge expanse of grass, and a creek flowing behind the pavilion. Just a few blocks south of Main Street, on the east side of downtown, this park is a hub for local events.

Bozeman Pond
Practice casting flies at the pond, wander around the trails, or hang out under the large pavilion at a picnic table. This park has a small fenced-in area for letting dogs run and swim, plus a climbing boulder for aspiring ascendants to practice their moves in a low-pressure environment. For something more vigorous, round up all your pals for a rousing beach-volleyball game in the sand court.

Just a few blocks south of downtown, Cooper Park is ideal for dogs. Large shade trees provide prime relaxation opportunities, plenty of picnic tables make for excellent impromptu gatherings, and the allowed off-leash play means Fido can tire himself out.

Regional Park
This expansive complex has multiple ponds, a fenced-off dog park, looping trails, a pump track, and a climbing boulder. It’s basically a multi-sport destination in and of itself. In the winter, bring a saucer or inner-tube for some good clean fun on the sledding hill.

Langhor Gardens
Langhor Gardens is a community garden with a climbing boulder—what could be more Bozeman than that? The Gallagator trail crosses through the park and will take you all the way downtown, and a nearby creek makes for a nice respite after a stressful day.

Adjacent to the Bozeman Public Library, connected to Peets Hill, and providing access to different trail options, Lindley has it all. In the warm weather you’ll find folks slinging hammocks and slacklines between the trees, and the trails around Lindley are groomed for skate skiing in the winter, so it’s a year-round attraction.

If disc golf is your thing, this is your spot. Smack-dab in the middle of Bozeman—a short bike ride from most places—Rose Park’s course isn’t overly challenging, but you can play a quick round with pals and then walk or pedal to a nearby restaurant to re-fuel.

Southside Park lies near the MSU campus and is often bustling with students. Depending on the season, you can be serving up goals or aces. This 6.5-acre park has tennis courts from spring through fall, and an ice rink in winter.

Story Mill
This is Bozeman’s largest and newest park. With several miles of trails, a climbing boulder, an adventure playground, an enclosed dog park for pups to roam and play fetch, an amphitheater, a community center, and several open-air pavilions, Story Mill has it all.

Iconic Affairs

by Cordelia Pryor

Year-round, the Bozone bustles with things to do, for every outdoor inclination. Here are some of the most iconic annual events, where you can experience the Bozeman community and have fun doing it. For many, many more, check out

King & Queen of the Ridge – Bridger Bowl
Think you have what it takes to hike the Ridge more times than anyone else? Give it your best shot at this annual fundraiser for the Avalanche Center, and you could be crowned local royalty. Last season’s Queen bagged 26 laps, and the King scored 29—so get ready to suffer.


Spring Fling – Spire Climbing Center
This low-key competition is about bringing the climbing community together for a great evening with friends, while watching some of the strongest climbers in Montana throw down. Whether you participate or not, this fun event is gripping—literally.

Pond Skim – Big Sky
After another long season of shredding, it’s time to kick up your boots and welcome the spring with one last hurrah. On closing weekend in late April, watch local crazies on their skis or boards skim across a manmade pond at high speed—or, more often, face-flop into the water. You don’t need a pass for this party, and if you’re loco enough to try it out, just remember: tips up.


Summer Trails Challenge – Bozeman & Beyond
From the beginning of June through the summer solstice, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust challenges Bozemanites to get out and use our trails. For every mile you run, hike, or bike, GVLT gets a buck for area trails. They set a lofty goal each summer, so every mile counts.

Bridger Ridge Run – Bridger Bowl
With August comes the big Bozeman sufferfest: 20 miles across the exposed ridge of the Bridger Mountains, from Fairy Lake to the M. Once among the most rugged trail runs in America, it’s still one of the most technical—and it’s a rite of passage for local runners.


Bridger Raptor Festival – Bridger Bowl
In October, witness the breathtaking migration of hundreds of raptors along the Bridger Range. With experts from the Montana Raptor Conservation Center leading nature walks, spotting raptors, and explaining this unique migration event, the Raptor Fest should not be missed—especially if you’ve got kids.


Christmas Stroll – Downtown Bozeman
Get your Christmas shopping out of the way before the holidays and save some dough while you’re at it. In early December, Main Street stores stay open late to offer great deals, and there’s plenty of cocoa and hot food to keep the bitter cold at bay. The Stroll brings Bozemanites out of the woodwork for a fun, festive night downtown.

Ice Climbing Festival – Hyalite Canyon
Cold weather doesn’t have to keep you indoors. To experience some major below-zero baddassery, check out the annualIce Fest in mid-December. Get your heart pumping at the on-ice clinics, or just enjoy second-hand adrenaline watching the pros on the big screen; either way, the Ice Fest has it all. 


The Bridger Bowl Cloud

by Christine Rogel

Why Bridger gets so much snow.

Every so often, a blue light flashes on top of the Baxter Hotel, alerting anyone within view of the tallest building in Bozeman that snow is falling at Bridger Bowl. The light—a repurposed airport runway strobe that flashes for 24 hours when the ski area receives at least two inches of snow—was installed in 1988 and played an important role before the era of the Internet. It’s related to an isolated weather phenomenon affectionately called the BBC, or Bridger Bowl Cloud,which descends like a blanket over the east-central Bridger Mountains and leaves behind a prodigious amount of snow.

“Because of the BBC, we’d get these isolated snowstorms and get a Screen-Shot-2013-12-10-at-2.03.07-PMbunch of snow in the mountains, but nothing was going on in town, so people wouldn’t know,” says Doug Wales, marketing director for Bridger Bowl. “So in the ‘olden days,’ the flashing blue light is how people would become aware it was snowing at Bridger.”

According to Eric Knoff, an avalanche specialist with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, the BBC is a “sneaker” and can drop up to 36 inches of snow at Bridger, while only one or two inches end up in town. Don’t be fooled by the clouds pouring over the ridgeline and seeping into the valley—the true BBC is the one that drops loads of snow,” says Knoff.

It’s hard to predict when the mysterious cloud and its revered powder-pouring abilities will occur, but January tends to be a good month for the cloud. During some seasons, the BBC appears half a dozen times, and during others only once or twice, according to Knoff. Last season, despite the thick cloud that frequently obstructed the view of the mountains from town, there was only one cycle of the BBC, when a white blanket fell over the mountain and the Bridgers saw 30 inches of snow in just a few days. It’s times like these, says Knoff, laughing, that “Big Sky has BBC envy.”

The BBC’s beloved snow load is actually not caused by a cloud at all, but rather a weather event called “upslope precipitation,” says Megan Vandenheuvel, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Great Falls. The snow starts to fall when a cold, moist northwestern air flow moves through the canyon and is forced upward by the unique geography of the mountains, creating precipitation in the higher elevations.

Regardless of how it forms or what it’s called, the BBC and its isolated snow showers are, at least in part, responsible for the current location of Bridger Bowl. The weather pattern was considered when the ski area moved from its lower elevation at Bear Canyon in the mid-1950s. It’s a unique phenomenon related to the particular geography of the mountains, and interest in the “cloud” is representative of the enthusiasm locals have for the landscape and the outdoors.