No one can argue how beautiful Bozeman looks in winter. The snow-capped mountains loom over the region, and many would argue – especially skiers – that this is the most magical time of year, a fantastic time to enjoy winter activities in Bozeman.
As temperatures freeze, weekends are spent snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and, of course, downhill skiing. Snow sports are the heart of winter, and Bozeman provides plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities! There’s no need to have your own gear, either. Whether you’re just visiting or simply want to try something new, you can rent most sporting equipment at Chalet Sports.
But if you’d prefer to spend time inside, don’t worry: Bozeman has plenty for you too. With numerous restaurants, bars, and shops, there’s always something new to do. Here’s how to best enjoy the winter season.
SKI AT BRIDGER BOWL OR BIG SKY
Many people living in Montana tout ski season as their favorite time of year. The snow in Montana is light, dry, and fluffy, called “cold smoke,” earning it a spot on many skier’s bucket lists. Fortunately, there are many places to ski in the Treasure State, with two main hills near Bozeman.
Nestled in the Bridger mountains, Bridger Bowl is the local ski hill about a 30 minute drive from Bozeman. With 2,000 acres of skiable terrain, it’ll keep you busy during the winter season!
Big Sky Resort is an hour away in the Spanish Peaks, but is much larger. You’re able to ski 5,850 acres of terrain there, with almost 3,000 more if you join the Yellowstone Club. Big Sky is truly a luxury resort, and well-known for its innovative chairlifts. High speed, heated, and secured in weatherproof bubbles, Big Sky truly has it all!
Both resorts offer a plethora of runs for both beginners and experts alike. Prepare to conquer the slopes no matter what level you are, then head to one of the lodges for a well-deserved treat!SKI BRIDGER BOWL SKI BIG SKY
GO ICE SKATING
Bozeman has several outdoor ponds and indoor rinks to skate on. If you’d like to stay indoors, head to the Haynes Pavilion. If you’re looking for outdoor rinks, head to Beall Park, Southside Park, or Bogert Park. Although Bogert Park is outside, it’s a covered rink, which makes it ideal for skating during bad weather.
If you’re already skiing in the Big Sky, check out the Big Sky Ice Rink. All rinks are open daily, although the outdoor ones may close if it gets too warm.ICE SKATE BOZEMAN ICE SKATE BIG SKY
SOAK IN THE HOT SPRINGS
There’s nothing like sitting in a hot spring with snow falling around you, especially after a day in the great outdoors. Experience the magic for yourself at one of the many hot springs in the area.
Bozeman Hot Springs, Chico Hot Springs, Norris Hot Springs, and Yellowstone Hot Springs are the four most popular. Whether you choose to soak during the day or under the night sky, you don’t want to miss this quintessential winter experience!BOZEMAN HOT SPRINGS CHICO HOT SPRINGS
NORRIS HOT SPRINGS YELLOWSTONE HOT SPRINGS
WALK (OR SNOWSHOE) ON NEARBY TRAILS
Yes, you can still hit the trails in the winter. The views of Bozeman are amazing from Peet’s Hill, College M, and Triple Tree. If you’re willing to venture further out, Lava Lake, Storm Castle, and Blackmore Lake are great hikes with scenic beauty at every turn.
Definitely wear microspikes or Yaktrax on your hiking boots for extra traction in snow and ice. You can also snowshoe instead if that’s more enticing to you. And of course, wear layers. It may seem cold out, but you’ll warm up quickly once you start moving.PEET’S HILL TRAIL COLLEGE M TRAIL TRIPLE TREE TRAIL
PALISADE FALLS OUSEL FALLS
LEARN TO ICE CLIMB
Looking for something adventurous? Learn how to ice climb! Montana Alpine Guides offers custom itineraries for everyone from complete novices to more advanced climbers. Hyalite Reservoir is world-renowned for its ice climbing, and it’s just a stone’s throw from Bozeman.
If climbing isn’t your speed, watching is just as exciting! Hyalite Reservoir, and specifically Palisade Falls, is a great place to spot climbers.MONTANA ALPINE GUIDES
Snowmobiling is a thrilling activity, fun for both newbies and seasoned riders alike. Either rent your own snowmobile from Summit ATR, or take a guided tour with Canyon Adventures, both located in Big Sky.
Check out Yellowstone Vacations for guided snowmobiling tours in Yellowstone National Park. If snowmobiling isn’t your thing, they also provide snowcoach tours.SUMMIT ATR CANYON ADVENTURES YELLOWSTONE VACATIONS
HAVE A BLAST DOG SLEDDING
Always wanted to try dog sledding? Now’s your chance! Learn to “mush” like a pro with Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures in Big Sky, and experience winter wonderland in a totally new way. All you’ll hear is the sound of the wind and swoosh of the sled on snow as you whizz through the picturesque scenery. And watch for wildlife – you are near Yellowstone, after all!YELLOWSTONE DOG SLED ADVENTURES
GO ICE FISHING
For a new and different activity, try ice fishing. Head to Hyalite Reservoir if you want to stick close to Bozeman. If you’re willing to make the drive, check out Dailey or Hegben Lake.
If you’ve never been ice fishing before and would rather go with a guide, Montana Fishing Guides lead guided trips. You’re bound to find mountain views and peaceful solitude no matter what.MONTANA FISHING GUIDES
CHECK OUT THE CROSS COUNTRY SKIING TRAILS
You’ll find plenty of cross country skiing trails in and around Bozeman! Bridger Golf Course is the perfect place for beginners as it’s relatively flat and close to town. Other options include South Cottonwood, Hyalite Loop, or Highland Glen Trail.
EXPLORE YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Yellowstone National Park is a national treasure, and is world-renowned for good reason. There’s nothing like the steam from Mammoth Hot Springs rising up into the crisp air, surrounded by snow. The bison herds move through the valley, darker dots surrounded by a blanket of white. And of course, there’s wolves.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll come close to any wolves, you can bring a spotting scope to see them from afar. Or better yet, you can take a tour! Yellowstone Wolf Tracker’s professional guiding services increase your chances of seeing these elusive animals, as they know the best places to spot them.
If you’d like to explore the park on your own, know that all of Yellowstone’s entrances are closed in the winter months except for the North Entrance in Gardiner. Fortunately, Bozeman is closest to this gate, and it’s only about 1.5 hours away. While most of the park is closed during the winter season, Lamar Valley remains open year-round. This is the best place in the park to spot wildlife. If you want to stretch your legs, go for a short hike around Trout Lake.
While all seasons are beautiful in Yellowstone, there’s nothing like the snowy winters. It’s also a unique experience to see Yellowstone so empty. It’s unlikely that you’ll encounter crowds, even on weekends!YELLOWSTONE WOLF TRACKER
ATTEND A WINTER FESTIVAL
Bozeman, and the surrounding area, are chock full of winter events. Ladies’ Night usually takes place in late November, and participating downtown businesses offer discounts to women who visit. Most towns, like Bozeman, Big Sky, and Livingston, have Christmas Strolls during the holidays, with visits from Santa and a tree lighting ceremony.
Attend the Bozeman Art Walk in early December, during which participating stores sell art from local artists accompanied by free drinks and refreshments. Bozeman Ice Festival is a popular winter event that celebrates ice climbing. Head to the Best in the West Showdown in Big Sky in early February to see skijoring, where people on horseback pull participants on skis or snowboards through obstacle courses!BIG SKY BEST IN THE WEST SHOWDOWN
DO SOMETHING INDOORS
Bozeman is full of places to warm up indoors when you don’t feel like venturing outside. From the Museum of the Rockies to the many bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and retail stores, there’s always something new to do.
Warm up from the inside out with a curated selection of the best whiskeys from around the world at Copper Whiskey Bar in both Bozeman and Big Sky, or Brigade for Bozeman’s most inspired, adventurous cocktails and cuisine.
Head to The Western Cafe for a casual but delicious brunch, Zocalo for coffee, Plonk for appetizers and drinks, and Blackbird for gourmet wood-fired pizza. Afterward, check out Devil’s Toboggan for a fun speakeasy vibe, or the Sky Shed at the Kimpton Armory Hotel for the best views of downtown Bozeman.
Looking for something fun to do after dinner? Ponderosa Social Club is a great place for a night of good food, drinks, bowling, and pool. Bourbon hosts line dancing lessons on Saturday nights, while The Jump offers swing dancing classes on Wednesday nights. You can play trivia at various bars almost every night of the week. If you love music, see a show at one of the many venues in town. Attend concerts at The Elm or Live From the Divide, and live music at Tune Up or Blend. Blend offers wine tasting too.COPPER WHISKEY BAR BRIGADE MUSEUM OF THE ROCKIES
THE WESTERN CAFE PLONK BLACKBIRD DEVIL’S TOBOGGAN SKY SHED PONDEROSA SOCIAL CLUB LINE DANCING LESSONS SWING DANCING CLASSES THE ELM LIVE FROM THE DIVIDE TUNE UP BLEND