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The Bozeman Essentials

In Bozeman, it’s impossible to do it all—but if you’re like us, you strive to. Every season presents its own set of outdoor challenges and opportunities, but there are a few activities so renowned that they bear repeating on a near-annual basis—classics, you could call them. Below are some of our favorites. Do them all and you’re one step closer to becoming a true Bozemanite.

Bike Hyalite Canyon
You may have heard of Hyalite for any number of reasons, including, but not limited to: fishing, running, hiking, and ice climbing. But thanks to all those activities, it sees more than its fair share of traffic—to the point of madness. From April 1 – May 15, however, the road is closed to motor vehicles. Hop on a bike and enjoy some of the best road riding of the year on Hyalite Canyon asphalt.

Fish Gallatin Canyon
Or “the Canyon,” as locals call it, Gallatin Canyon served as the backdrop for A River Runs Through It, and has been attracting anglers for a long, long while. It’s tough to beat casting dries to rising trout just 30 minutes from town. You’ll find everything from riffles to deep pocket water and thin eddy lines, with a plethora of hatches throughout the season. With fishing this good, though, we can’t guarantee you elbow room.

Paddle the Mad Mile
Fishing ain’t the only thing the Gallatin’s known for. Come spring, before the bugs are out ’n’ about, paddling takes the cake on this river’s frothing waters. Warm up on an easier section between Moose Creek and Lava Lake, then run a gauntlet of foamy rapids known as “the Mad Mile” downstream to Upper Storm Castle. Navigate this section successfully in a watercraft and earn a badge of Bozeman honor.

Float the Lower Madison
Whether in a drift boat, raft, inner tube, or with nothing but a life jacket, floating the Lower Madison is a staple Bozeman experience. Known to locals as the “bikini hatch,” this mid-summer lazy-river float is a Mecca for dirtbags, yuppies, weekend warriors, and college students alike. Grab a sixer and hit the water.

Climb Neat Rock
With routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.14, there’s something to suit every climber’s fancy at this near-roadside crag on the banks of the Madison River. The rock is solid gneiss and the dry environment makes for good climbing conditions almost year-round. Make it a double-header with the aforementioned float, or spend a night at one of many nearby campgrounds for a weekend getaway.

Bike Leverich
On two wheels, you won’t find a more quintessential ride. This dirt singletrack loop climbs for nearly a thousand feet, then bombs right back down—just make sure you ride it in a clockwise fashion. Serious bikers have been known to lap it, and don’t be surprised if you get passed by these fellers your first time out.

Ski Bridger Bowl
Just 16 miles from downtown, the skiing doesn’t get much better than this. With the “Bridger Bowl Cloud” often hanging over the mountain, the snow’s decent, too. Ski a few laps before work, or play hooky from school to bootpack 600 feet to “the Ridge.” Don’t tackle it as a beginner, though, ’cause you’re likely bound for some serious airtime.

Hike Sacagawea Peak
The queen of the Bridgers rises to just shy of 10,000 feet in elevation, while a convenient access road to Fairy Lake makes tagging this summit a fairly casual outing. You’ll start below treeline, but soon emerge into the alpine zone dotted with crystal-blue lakes, snow-choked gullies, and jagged ridgelines. Fret not; the trail itself follows easy terrain, and the views from the top are impeccable.