Watchable Wildlife

by the editors

Animals of the Montana forests.

If you haven’t noticed, Montana is a wildlife hotbed. Unless you’re from the Serengeti, the opportunity for animal encounters likely rivals anywhere you’ve been before. Any given hike can produce half a dozen megafauna sightings, and all the major species seen by Lewis and Clark are still around. Here are some of the usual suspects.

Deer
Hike, bike, run, or ride any mountain trail between Big Timber and Dillon, and you’ll likely see mule deer. Their ubiquity doesn’t make them any less impressive. These ungulates are built for mountain travel. Tell them apart from white-tailed deer by their black-tipped tails, donkey-like ears, and hopping gait. Whitetail tend to stick to the agricultural lowlands, and when spooked, their fluffy white tails flare straight up as they bound away.

Mule deer raise their heads from grazing.

Elk
While it’s rare to see elk on the trail, it does happen, especially if you hike in the sage-flecked meadows of Yellowstone Park. More likely, you’ll see huge herds on your way to and from the trailhead, often grouped on private land in the valleys, safe from hunters’ bullets. Dawn and dusk, fall, winter, and spring are the best times to spot elk, and Paradise and Madison valleys are both full of them.

A bull elk in velvet

Birds of Prey
Eagles, falcons, and hawks enliven Montana’s big, blue sky, and fall is an excellent time to observe them in huge numbers. Many hawk species migrate along the Bridger Range in October, so hike up to the ridge and bust out the binos. Along our many rivers and streams, look for bald eagles, a formerly endangered species that has made a huge comeback. Out in the open fields, hawks and falcons perch on power poles and fencelines, looking for rodents scurrying through the grass.

A common sight along Montana Rivers

Canines
Foxes and coyotes are fairly common sights around these parts. They’re similar in size, but the former’s bright-orange coat makes it unmistakable. While folks new to town might see coyotes as majestic wildlife, many locals see them as a nuisance. Still, watching one lope across an open field as the sun sets on the mountains is a sight to behold. Wolves are far less common, especially outside Yellowstone Park. Inside the Park, if your goal is to see Canis lupus, head in early and follow the naturalist tour-guide vans. The Lamar Valley is a good bet.

Jenny Golding

Small Mammals
Small critters get much less fanfare, but they’re worth mentioning. A few standouts are marmots, pikas, and gophers (aka, Richardson’s ground squirrels). Marmots are fairly common in the alpine, and you can find them by following their high-pitched chirps. Their call is a warning cry, and they’ll start screaming as soon as you’re on their radar. Pikas are far less common, and indeed, they’re in trouble, due to warming temps. They occupy large rock clusters and if you spot large splotches of white droppings, odds are a pika is inside. Gophers are the pigeons of southwest Montana. From spring through mid-summer, they’re everywhere and no local would fault you for picking off one or two with a pellet gun.

Small animal tracks through the snow.

Ursines & Felines
The “coolest” animals are usually the toothiest. Around here, that means bears, cougars, bobcats, and lynx. Our area has good populations of grizzly and black bears, but odds of seeing a grizzly are pretty low outside of Yellowstone. Black bears are far more common. Tell them apart by the shape of their faces and the telltale hump above the griz’s shoulder. Bobcats are also fairly common, but far stealthier than bears. For one, they’re much smaller—about the size of a medium-sized dog—and they tend to stalk their prey silently, whereas bears are primarily scavengers, wandering around from smell to smell in search of their next meal. Cougars and lynx are extremely hard to see in the wild. Their stealth is unrivaled in the animal kingdom, and if you see one, count yourself among the lucky few.

Up close and personal with a cougar.

Outdoor Epilogue

by Cordelia Pryor

Sure, when most of us hear the word “après,” we think of steamy ski bars and hot toddies, but what about kicking back after warm-weather outings? What about the cold beers after fishing, hiking, biking, and climbing? Summertime aprés has its own charms, and they’re every bit as gratifying as those enjoyed during the winter.

After a long day outside, sore legs rejoice sitting down on a patio chair or sliding into a booth shoulder-to-shoulder with your buddy. And nothing feels better than a little A/C with that first sip of local swill. The Gallatin Valley is saturated with breweries, bars, and eateries—here are some of our favorite spots to wind down after a day in the sun.

On the Patio
With summer’s lingering daylight, stay outside and soak in its last rays at one of many venues downtown. On Main, Bacchus Pub is a great place to kick back for a few brews and a hearty meal. Think burgers, sandwiches, and tasty fries to boot. If you’re feeling more of a cocktail, head next door to Bozeman Spirits and try their revered whisky, vodka, gin, or rum.

For a more elevated perch, don’t miss the rooftop bars around town. The Taproom hosts a pleasant vibe with tasty food and good drinks. Fill a glass, kick back, and watch the sun go down over town. The Crystal Bar is Bozeman’s other classic—shoot some pool inside, then wander up top and put your head where it should be—in the clouds.

Indoors
If your sunburn has you itching for the sweet sensation of cooler air, venture inside at one of our local breweries. On your way back from a hike in Hyalite or a long ride up Sourdough, cruise over to Bridger Brewing. Not only do they have awesome in-house brews on tap, but they’re known for some of the best and most creative pizza in town—nothing beats a slice of Eloté and a glass of Lee Metcalf. In town, Union Hall Brewery is another hotspot. Belly up to six delicious staples and two seasonal rotators. Additionally, they’re releasing a new food menu soon. If you just want a stiff drink and are on a budget, head to the Eagle’s Club for reasonable prices and an old-school vibe.

For a well-deserved meal after a long day on the trail, you can’t go wrong with Nina’s, which serves a variety of Mexican dishes along with tasty tequila drinks. Next door, Urban Kitchen offers a fancier option for those wanting to sample Bozeman’s upscale offerings. A couple blocks away you’ll find Dave’s Sushi, Bozeman’s original sushi spot—just be prepared to wait a few minutes at the door.

Small Town
While Bozeman has plenty of scenes to choose from—and believe us, they’re great—make sure to widen your horizons as well. When your outing takes you more than 30 minutes away, check out some of the small-town watering holes. These lesser-crowded, down-to-earth locales feel like a home away from home. Pull up a chair and soak in the ambiance of a true Montana atmosphere.

If you venture west of town for a day floating the Jefferson or exploring Lewis & Clark Caverns, stop in at Sir Scott’s Oasis in Manhattan. As far as a drink and a meal go, it doesn’t get much better. In many circles, this steakhouse is argued to be the best in the entire Gallatin Valley. East of Bozeman, if you’ve been in Yellowstone near Gardiner or rambling around Paradise Valley, check out Follow ‘Yer Nose in Emigrant for mouth-watering BBQ, or swing by Mark’s In & Out in Livingston for a burger to go.

The bottom line is, you’ve got options—and with so many, it’s hard to go wrong. These are just some of our favorites, though. Get out and discover for yourself; with time, you’ll have a long list of your own. Welcome to town, friend. If we don’t see you on the trails, at the crag, or in the river, we’ll catch you après.

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 outsidebozeman.com/events.

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. bridgerbowl.com.

CourtesyBridgerBowl-KingQueen5

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. spireclimbingcenter.com.

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. bigskyresort.com.

KevinKennedy_PondSkim2015_MG_5442e

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. gvlt.org.

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. winddrinkers.org.

RidgeRun-DarrylBaker_LR

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. raptorfest.bridgerbowl.com.

GoldenEagle-ManfredRichter

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. downtownbozeman.org.

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. bozemanicefest.com. 

ChrisEbeling-IceClimbing2

Extra Credit

While skiing may be the crowd favorite of Bozeman’s winter scene, it’s not all the area has to offer. There’s a variety of wintertime activities to partake in, no matter your inclination or experience. Here’s a partial list of alternative cold-weather activities.

Sledding
Sledding-IslaFriebe_LR

Tearing down a hill on a sled isn’t just for kids—it’s quite the thrill for anyone with a pulse. Throw in affordability, and an afternoon of sledding becomes an even more attractive pastime. Bozeman has a number of popular sledding spots, including the Snowfill Recreation Area, Peets Hill, and the Langohr Campground up Hyalite. Outside of town, suitable slopes rise in all directions. If regular sledding seems too mundane, you can always step it up a notch and go Clark Griswold–style, hitting light-speed on a greased trashcan lid.

Want to show off your sledding skills? Head to Red Lodge Winter Carnival in March. Construct a sled made only of cardboard, tape, and glue, and race down the slopes for glory.

Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing, Yellowstone National Park

If you can walk, chances are you can snowshoe—and have fun doing it. To get started, just pick a trailhead and go. Once you’ve got your balance, veer off-trail to find y

our own path, enjoying the quiet solitude of the winter woods. A beginner snowshoeing setup (shoes, poles) runs about $200 brand-new; if you’re on a budget, pick up a pair of hand-me-downs and use your ski poles.

Once you’ve got your technique down, grab your furry four-legged friend and join Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter for the Snowshoe Shuffle, a torch-lit group snowshoe and raffle with all proceeds benefitting the shelter.

Snowmobiling
Cooke City April 2017

With the power of a snowmobile underneath you, there’s a lot you can see. Whether you’re flying around West Yellowstone, Big Sky, Paradise Valley, Cooke City, or Island Park, you’ll have incredible access to some beautiful, remote places without having to work for it—and you’ll get a pretty killer adrenaline rush, too. Most places that rent snowmobiles have snowsuits, helmets, and other required accessories.

To expand your snowmobiling knowledge and explore deeper into the backcountry, take a snowmobile-specific avalanche-education course. Riders trigger almost as many slides as skiers, and it’s just as dangerous—don’t put yourselves or others at risk.

Skating
Every winter, three outdoor ice rinks pop up at Bozeman parks: Bogert, Southside, and Beall. Once the ice has set up for the season—normally in late December—the rinks stay open until 10pm every day. Southside and Bogert have warming huts for a cozy cup of hot chocolate, as well as a comfortable place to put on and take off your skates. Additional skating can be had at the Haynes Pavilion, home of the local hockey league; they rent skates for $5, plus a $5 entry fee.

If you like hockey, or want to give it a try, register for the Hocktober Scramble at the Haynes Pavilion. This fun series gives players of all levels the chance to test their skills—and have a blast doing it—in competitive pickup games.

Ice Climbing
ChrisEbeling-IceClimbing2

If you’re new to mountain country, it may seem that ice climbing is for hardened experts and crazed adrenaline junkies. But in the last few decades, ascending giant icicles has become a pastime almost anyone can enjoy. Whether you have some climbing experience already, or have only ever summited a ladder, you too can tool up and tackle the ice. Mix in a few hot-cocoa breaks and a knowledgeable friend to show you the ropes, and your once-intimidating adventure becomes both pleasant and safe. You don’t need to go far, either. Some of the world’s best ice is right down the road in Hyalite Canyon. As with other climbing equipment, avoid buying used gear from pawn shops or Craigslist. Instead, borrow from friends, rent, or invest in a setup of your own.

This one’s a no-brainer: attend the Bozeman Ice Fest! Every winter (except this one), climbing enthusiasts from all over the world flock to Hyalite to celebrate the sport. There’ll be gear demos, clinics, and tons of resources to help you learn and grow, not to mention meet some pretty cool folks.

In the Loop

by Jack Taylor

With mountains and rivers in every direction, where should you go first? To school, that’s where. Before heading into unfamiliar terrain, it’s important to be armed with the proper knowledge, skills, and equipment. Make a plan for every adventure, no matter how big or small, and always have a backup plan. Here are some essential outdoor resources to get you started:

BooksAndMaps-1

Guidebooks
Nothing beats a quality guidebook when plotting an excursion. Build a bookshelf collection for your favorite outdoor activities. Here are some of our top picks:

Day Hikes around Bozeman (Day Hikes Books, $16)
Southern Montana Singletrack (Beartooth Publishing, $30)
Bozeman Rock Climbs (High Gravity Press, $25)
Paddling Montana (Falcon Guides, $22)
Flyfisher’s Guide to Montana (Wilderness Adventures Press, $30)
The House of Hyalite (Joe Josephson, $36)
Backcountry Skiing Bozeman and Big Sky (WS Publishing, $40)

Printed Maps
Even in the age of information technology, a good ol’ printed map is an invaluable resource. For close-to-home outings, start with the Gallatin Valley Land Trust’s map, which covers Bozeman’s local trails. It’s available from retailers around town for $3. (For a digital version, download one for free at gvlt.org/trails/trail-map.)

Beartooth Publishing is our go-to for detailed topographic maps of southwest Montana, complete with roads, trails, and usage restrictions; order print copies from beartoothpublishing.com or find them in local stores. Our favorite all-around option is Bozeman Area Outdoor Recreation Map, which sells for $14.

For general trip planning throughout the state, pick up a copy of the DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer (DeLorme, $24). For more detail, order zoomed-in, area-specific, waterproof maps from MyTopo (mytopo.com), a custom-mapping outfit in Billings. A large-format wall map of southwest Montana from Basin and Range Mapping (basinandrangemap.com) will help you see the big picture and make planning that much easier.

Apps
For hunters and anglers, there are only three apps you need on your smartphone or GPS: Montana Fishing AccessMontana Hunting Access, and OnX Hunt. The first two are activity-specific and produced right here in Bozeman by Mountainworks Software (emountainworks.com); the latter is the leading map for property-ownership boundaries and is based in Missoula (onxmaps.com).

Websites
You’ll find plenty of information online to learn about local outdoor opportunities. For a collection of general resources, head to outsidebozeman.com/directories. Looking for specific trail descriptions? Check out outsidebozeman.com/trails. For updates and news in the world of mountain biking, including suggested rides, take a look at southwestmontanamba.org. Climbers, head to swmontanaclimbers.org for access information and stewardship projects. If you’re heading for the rivers, check out waterdata.usgs.gov for water levels, bigskyfishing.com for fishing info, and fwp.mt.gov for regulations. In the winter, if you plan on heading into the backcountry, stay updated with avalanche forecasts from mtavalanche.com. For general tips & tricks regarding outdoor safety and skills, check out outsidebozeman.com/skills.

Stores
Nothing beats a well-stocked retailer for hands-on gear comparisons, along with free advice from local professionals. Southwest Montana teems with outdoor shops; stop in and hit ‘em up for tips and guidance. Just be sure to buy something while you’re there; Montanans are a friendly, helpful lot, but nobody likes a freeloader.

Deep Thoughts

by the editors

A guide to Cold-Smoke College.

From many a window on campus, no matter what direction you’re facing, you’ll be staring directly at a snow-capped mountain range. Seven are visible from the Gallatin Valley, and during the school year, they’re more than just snow-capped—they’re snow-covered.

Whether you’re getting in a run or two at Bridger Bowl between classes, splurging on a weekend at Big Sky Resort with the family, or busting out skate-skiing laps on Lindley Park, if you ski, you’ve come to the right place. If you don’t ski, you will soon. Bozeman is centrally located for the winter-sports enthusiast; but before you hit the slopes, get the information you need to maximize your stoke.

Skiing with a view.

Skiing with a view.

Essential Gear

If you’re skiing at the resort, you’ll need all the basics: skis, boots, poles, helmet, outerwear, and accessories. If you’re starting from scratch, hit up the second-hand stores like Second Wind and Nu2u, especially for big-ticket items such as skis, poles, and outerwear. If you’re going to splurge on one item, make it your boots. Used boots are fine for beginners, but the right fit is key once you’re aggressively skiing more technical terrain. Also, buy a new helmet—lice are gross. All of the same advice applies to snowboarders, although you won’t need poles for resort riding.

For the backcountry enthusiast, gear is a bit more complicated. The first thing you should buy is an avalanche course. There are a few fully certified guide operations nearby, such as Big Sky Backcountry Adventures at the Bell Lake Yurt and Beartooth Powder Guides in Cooke City. Courses are pricey, but your life is worth a couple hundred bucks. Once you’ve booked a course, you’ll need safety gear like a shovel, beacon, and probe. (This safety gear is also required for Bridger Bowl’s more technical Ridge terrain, so you’ll most likely be purchasing it regardless.) This safety gear goes in a pack, so you’ll need one of those as well. For day tours, something between 25-35 liters will do.

Beacon search practice during an avalanche safety course.

Beacon search practice during an avalanche safety course.

To get uphill, you’ll need some skins, touring boots or boots with a walk mode (unless you snowboard), and some AT bindings. Snowboarders should check out the splitboard-binding company Spark R&D. They’re the best in the business and their headquarters is right here in Bozeman. For skiers, if you get tech bindings, make sure your boots are compatible. If all this has confused you, go to a shop and talk through your options with a sales associate. Because you’ll be traveling uphill in varying terrain, adjustable poles are nice, though not required.

If Nordic skiing is your thing, you’re lucky—there’s less gear and it’s much cheaper. To get started, you just need skis, boots, and poles. Again, buying used skis and poles is a great way to save a lot of money. Better yet, rent equipment from somewhere like Chalet Sports or Round House, then buy once you know the style of skiing you like. For classic skiing, softshell outerwear works great. Use what you have before buying activity-specific items. For skate-skiing, you’ll want something that breathes well as you’ll be sweating up a storm. Racers wear spandex, but that’s overkill for the recreational skier.

Remember that all these items and more are available for rent at the MSU Outdoor Rec Center, for great prices.

Mile Creek

Cross country skiing Mile Creek.

Where to Go

For downhill skiers and snowboarders, the obvious choice is Bridger Bowl. It’s 20 minutes from campus, meaning you can get in a half-day between morning econ and your afternoon physics lab. They also have a great rate for students, and it’s a good place to land a part-time job. That way you can ski for free.

If you’re feeling the need for some serious big-mountain skiing, pick a weekend or two and splurge on Big Sky passes. They’re expensive, but the amount and quality of the terrain is worth the price of admission. Save a few bucks on gas by taking the bus, and pack a lunch instead of gorging at the resort.

For a completely different experience, hit the road and make your way to any of the small-town ski areas within a few hours of campus. Red Lodge, Maverick, Lost Trail, and Discovery are some of our favorites, but there are several others that are worth a visit. Most are closed Monday through Wednesday, so watch the weather and head out after an early-week storm.

Making the most of Bridger Bowl's closing day.

Making the most of Bridger Bowl’s closing day.

Outside the Treasure State, other options abound. Grand Targhee is about three hours away and gets hammered with snow, and about four hours away is the legendary Jackson Hole.

If you cross-country ski, Bozeman has more options than you’ll be able to cover in four winters (or seven, as the case may be). Right in town, there are the hospital trails, groomed by the Bridger Ski Foundation and perfect for a lunch-lap or three. Out Bridger Canyon, check out CrossCut Ranch. This Nordic center has trails for all skill levels and even features biathlon. More on the wild side, the trail network in Hyalite is periodically groomed and nestled deep in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest.

Backcountry enthusiasts can cut their teeth in Bradley’s Meadow on the north boundary of Bridger Bowl. It’s a short skin from the ski area’s Alpine chair and offers a few safe, mellow turns. Up Hyalite, History Rock and Lick Creek are local favorites, and if conditions are right, Mt. Ellis is another close-by standby. Obviously, the options are endless, but we can’t do all the work for you. Go explore—safely.

Cross country skiing, Lone Mountain Ranch, Big Sky, Yellowstone Country

Cross country skiing

 Events

As students, your schedules are jam-packed, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make some time for fun. Skiing is inherently social, and the following events are the highlights of the season.

Bridger Bowl hosts weekly community events, ranging from freeride competitions to telemark costume races. Check out their event calendar once the season starts for more details. Big Sky also hosts daily events, most notably excellent live music and several bigger festivals. Big Sky Big Grass is a highlight every February, as is the Pond Skim in April.

November 26
Big Sky Opening Day – Big Sky. Give thanks for overhead pow turns and steep terrain at Big Sky’s opening day. Services will be limited, but this is a great way to get the season started. Details here.

December 4
Projected Opening Day – Bridger Bowl. Chairs start spinning for another season at Bridger Bowl. Get your place in line, even if it means procrastinating during finals week. Details here.

For an up-to-date list of events around the Bozone, check out Outside Bozeman’s event calendar.

Bozeman’s Back Yard

By Phil Knight

It’s finally summer in the Bozone—the perfect time to save up some cash, take a break from schoolwork, and most importantly, enjoy the outdoors and beautiful weather. Where to go when adventure is calling? If time is tight, stay close without compromising fun and adventure. Just 20 minutes from downtown Bozeman lies one of the world’s greatest multisport mountain playgrounds: Hyalite. In this wild canyon and the surrounding peaks, you can pretty much do it all.

CoreyHockett_Hyalite-1

A great way to experience Hyalite Reservoir

This has long been the go-to place for locals seeking their mountain fix. But Hyalite has matured from a place to shoot old televisions, cut firewood, and get your truck stuck to a sophisticated adventure Mecca. Motorized recreation has been scaled back in favor of human-powered pursuits and wildlife conservation. The road up to Hyalite is paved, clean and right next to a stream great for fishing, making the way up to Hyalite an easy drive.

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Views from the Mount Blackmore trail

Hyalite’s trail system is legendary and offers anything from an easy stroll to weeklong expeditions through the heart of a 500,000-acre roadless area. Throw in heaps of spectacular waterfalls, like Grotto, Palisade, and Horsetail, and it’s hard to find more classic hikes. Epic mountain biking also awaits, with favorite rides including History Rock trail into South Cottonwood Canyon, the East Fork trail to Emerald Lake, and the easier West Shore Trail along Hyalite Reservoir.

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Hyalite Reservoir

Brim-full early in the summer, the reservoir is a paradise for boaters seeking still water. Stand-up paddleboarders look like lost surfers, families putt along in overloaded outboards bristling with fishing poles and dogs, and couples enjoying evening picnics paddle by canoe or kayak. Hardy scuba divers train in the chilly depths of the snowmelt-fed water and boaters jump ship to take a cool swim—just watch the sunken stumps. There’s great fishing year-round, and in winter, ice fishers set up shop on the frozen tabletop. More remote lakes beckon from the backcountry, offering awesome lakeside camping and fishing.

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Shower Falls up the Hyalite Creek trail

You want wildlife, Hyalite’s got it—even wolves and grizzly bears are making a comeback here in the north end of the Gallatin Range. Mountain goats and bighorn sheep skitter across ridge tops, golden eagles ride the thermals, moose lurk in the deep woods, and coyotes cruise for stray poodles.

Though Hyalite is close enough to Bozeman for great day tripping, you can also pitch your tent or park your camper at Langhor, Hood Creek, or Chisholm campgrounds. Or, if you prefer a fully equipped cabin, reserve the Window Rocks or Maxey cabins—both accessible by car.

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One of Hyalite’s full-time residents

Hyalite By the Numbers
forest service trailheads
500,000 roadless acres
campgrounds
2 vehicle accessible rental cabins
2 day-use areas, including a pavilion with fireplace and wood-fired grills
2 wheelchair-accessible trails (grotto falls and palisade falls)
1 trout-filled reservoir
1 trout-filled alpine lakes
2 trout-filled creeks
5 daily trout limit
40,000 monthly visitors during the summer

Are you a Bozemanite?

Whether this is your first year in Bozeman or your fifth, the question inevitably arises: are you a true Bozemanite? Take our quiz to find out if Bozeman is really the place for you.
1. Do you plan your MSU class schedule so that you can make it up to the ski hill at least three days a week?
2. In the fall and spring, do you wear shorts underneath snow pants, to be prepared for any kind of weather?
3. Do you know at least three dogs named Bridger or Madison, and maybe one or two people?
4. Do you understand what the Barmuda triangle means?
5. Do you wait until July to remove your snow tires?
6. Do you start ski training in August?
7. Do you eat ramen all year so that you can afford outdoor gear?
8. Are cuts, bruises, and abrasions a source of endless story-telling
rather than intolerable pain?
9. Have you worn Birkenstocks or Chacos with socks?
10. Does a “study day” involve throwing a couple books into your pack and heading up to the hill, whether it be to hike or ski?
11. Have you gone skiing every month of the year?
12. Have you danced the night away at Music on Main?
13. Have you guided your car through a cattle drive on a state
highway?
14. Do you drive a Subaru?
15. Have you gotten up before dawn to go fishing?
16. Have you entered in at least one of Outside Bozeman’s contests in an attempt to score awesome gear?
17. Do you float the Madison or Jefferson every summer?
18. Have you watched live music at Norris Hot Springs while your hair forms icicles?
19. Have you gone extreme sledding down Peets Hill, sans helmet and knee pads?
20. Do you chuckle good-naturedly at the antics of obvious out-of-staters, calling them “tourons”?
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0 points: What the heck are you doing here? If all you do is study and sleep, might as well be in Kansas or Nebraska.
1-6 points: You’re not a total loser, but you are pretty pathetic. Throw away the Valium, wipe the slobber off your chin, and explore this awesome town we call home.
7-13 points: Not a bad start, but you’ve got plenty of work to do. Keep doing what you’re doing; if you need some guidance, check out the MSU Pocket Guide and Outside Bozeman magazine.

14-20 points: Congratulations, you’re a Bozemanite! Now, the bad news: you’ll never be able to leave this awesome place, and for the rest of your life, envious house guests will take over your living room every summer and winter.

Higher Calling

by the editors

A climbing adventure guide for the rookies and the vets.

Living in Bozeman, you’ve probably noticed that the Rocky Mountains are aptly named. Limestone, sandstone, granite, gneiss—we’ve got rocks galore, and that means tons of climbing opportunities await. Getting vertical is in our DNA here, so whether you’re new to the sport, or a veteran looking to tick off the classics, read on for a primer on where to go, what to bring, and how to learn to climb safer and harder.

 

Photo by Brian Grossenbacher

Flexin’ up the mountain.

Gear

Check out Spire Climbing Center to pick up essential gear locally. A 60-meter rope is sufficient for most Bozeman-area climbs, though longer routes are going up in places like Wolverine Bowl, where a 70-meter rope may become handier. And dust off those tricams—they can be super helpful for protecting pocketed limestone routes, of which there are many.

If you’re just getting started, take a lesson or attend a clinic at Spire—the good folks there will help you select the appropriate shoes, harness, and belay device to get you climbing quickly and safely. Do NOT buy used climbing gear at pawn shops or on Craigslist—it’s beyond sketchy, as you never know what it’s been through. You can also check out the Outdoor Rec Center on campus for gear.

 

A classic summer sight around the Bozone.

A classic summer sight around the Bozone.

Crags/Routes

Right off Hwy. 191 near the 35mph bridge, Gallatin Canyon has dozens of routes and bouldering problems, great history, beautiful scenery, and easy access. The canyon is largely traditional climbing, but there is a smattering of bolted climbs as well. Many of the older routes are appropriately sandbagged, so climb with gusto. Skyline Arete (5.6, six pitches) is a classic crowd-pleaser, and shouldn’t be missed. Step up to the ultra-classic, perfect parallel cracks of Sparerib (5.8, two pitches), Diesel Driver (5.9) or virtually anything on Gallatin Tower (5.8-5.13 options).

Bozeman’s pet crag, Practice Rock, delivers a convenient pump after class or before work. Head up S. 19th, turn on Hyalite Canyon Rd. and continue for 3.1 miles. Park in the pullout on the right, and slog up the talus. Forgot your trad rack? Most of the routes can be top-roped by hiking around to the right; just use caution when doing so. Hundreds, maybe thousands of climbers have experienced their first climb or trad lead on routes like Strawberry Crack (5.7), Jerry’s Route (5.8+), and Rosebush Crack (5.9). Make sure to check out the splitter gear line of Theoretically (5.10c)—it’s a must-send.

If clipping bolts is your jam, head to Bozeman Pass. Limestone routes from 5.6-5.13 are clustered among fins and faces, with relatively quick and easy access off I-90 at Trail Creek Rd. You may also want to check out Bozeman’s coolest—both scenery-wise, and temperature-wise—sport-climbing crag at Wolverine Bowl, in the Bridgers. It’s a longer drive and about an hour-long hike to the base of the climbs, but the steep limestone has some of the best friction around, and route development has been progressing nicely here (though mostly at harder grades). Check out The Beat Connection (5.10b) and Hate Street Dialogue (5.11b) for sure.

 

Photo by Beth Johnson

Live-action cliffhanger.

Events

Want to meet some new partners? Get together and spray with like-minded rock nerds? Drink beer and climb rocks? So do we. There are several events each year in southwest Montana that bring the climbing community together. Here are the highlights.

September 21
Tour de Hyalite – Hyalite Canyon. In September, competitors run 14 miles up to Hyalite Peak and back, then climb the five hardest routes they can at Practice Rock to reduce their time—the harder the routes, the faster your time! Details here.

September  [Exact Dates TBD]
Butte Bouldering Bash – Butte. If cruxing out is more your style, check out the annual Butte Bouldering Bash in October. There’s a competition, raffle, food, and a LOT of awesome granite boulders. Check it out on Facebook here.

November 9
Full Gravity Day – Bozeman. Before getting lost in a sea of finals, solve some boulder problems at Spire. This is the largest bouldering event in the Northern Rockies, so even if you aren’t competing, it’s worth checking out for the scene. Take a look at last year’s finals here.

December 11-15
Bozeman Ice Festival – Bozeman. Trade chalk for ice axes, and shoes for crampons, at the 22nd annual Bozeman Ice Fest. Expect on-ice clinics in Hyalite, gear demos from industry leaders, an adventure film festival, and much more. Details here.

April [Exact Date TBD]
Spring Fling – Finally, kick off the spring climbing season at Spire, with their Spring Fling rope competition. There are adult and youth classes, and spandex is encouraged—it’s that kind of event. Details will be posted here when the date is announced. Meanwhile, get psyched watching 2017′s competition.

For an up-to-date list of events around town check out Outside Bozeman’s event calendar.

 

Locations

Looking to pick up a print copy of the Blue Light Guide? Here’s where you can find us:

On Campus                                         
Admissions/New Student Services
SUB Cafeteria
Office of Student Success
Hannon Hall
Hapner Hall
North and South Hedges
Langford Hall
Outdoor Recreation Center
Roskie Hall
The Renee Library
The Outdoor Rec Center



Off Campus/Around Bozeman
Bozeman Health
Daily
Paulie’s
Bridger Brewing
Taco Montes
Spire Climbing Center
Wild Joes
Cafe M
International Coffee Traders
Town & Country
Bridger Bowl
REI
Bridger Brewing