Best Outdoor Winter Activities in Bozeman

Local Blog Charlotte Durham February 6, 2024

 

Best Outdoor Winter Activities in Bozeman

Yes, you can still get your outdoor fix in the winter months! You’ll need to dress a little warmer than you would in the summer, but you’d be surprised at how quickly you heat up once you start moving, especially when the sun is out.
 
While you can do some of the same activities in winter that you can in the summer, like hiking, snowy landscapes open up a plethora of new hobbies to try. Below, you’ll find a list of the best outdoor winter activities in Bozeman. If there’s one you’d like to try, but don’t have the gear, you’re in luck: Chalet Sports and Roundhouse Sports both rent out a variety of outdoor equipment. Who knows, you may even find your new favorite winter pursuit!
 

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

At just under 30 minutes from downtown, Bridger Bowl Ski Area is the obvious choice for a day on the slopes. With over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain, 75 marked trails, and 2,700 feet of vertical rise, there’s plenty to see at Bridger Bowl. And with about 300 inches of snowfall each year, there’s usually tons of powder to go around!
 
 

Winter Hiking

Bozeman and the surrounding area is chock full of hikes, many of which are still accessible in winter. Just bring your micro spikes, layers, extra food and water, and bear spray, and you’ll be good to go. Here are a few fan favorites:
 
  • The M: This iconic hike is right in town, and takes you to the giant white “M” painted on the south side of the Bridger Mountains. The letter stands for the “M” in “Montana State University,” and is a short but steep hike if you take the right path. You also have the option for a slightly longer, but milder jaunt if you go left. Either way, you’ll end up at the top and get great views all across town.
  • Palisade Falls: If you love frozen waterfalls, this hike in Hyalite Canyon is for you. If you’re lucky, you may even see some ice climbers making their way up the falls.
  • South Cottonwood Creek Trail: As the name suggests, this trail parallels South Cottonwood Creek, and feels like a winter wonderland the whole way through. You can go as far as you’d like since this is an out-and-back with no set destination; the joy is in the journey!
  • Lava Lake Trail: This hike is incredibly popular in the warmer months, so the winter is a great time to see it with less traffic on the trail. Plus, the drive there is absolutely beautiful and winds its way through Gallatin Canyon alongside the Gallatin River.

Ice Skating

Bozeman has a thriving ice skating and ice hockey community, so there are lots of outdoor rinks to choose from. Here are some popular (and free) spots:
 
  • Beall Park: Located just a couple blocks from downtown, Beall Park is a large square rink perfect for all skaters.
  • Bogert Park: Visit this covered rink when you want a break from the sun or falling snow.
  • Southside Park: This rink is a popular spot for ice hockey games.
  • Cattail Lake by Costco: Cattail Lake gets converted into a 400-meter oval track in the winter.
The Beall, Bogert, and Southside rinks are all maintained by the City of Bozeman. Learn about rink hours, closures, and more here. You’ll find other rinks scattered throughout the lakes around town, mostly maintained by neighborhood volunteers. Skate at your own risk at these spots.
 

Cross Country Skiing

You’ll find plenty of cross-country skiing trails scattered around Bozeman. Check the Bridger Ski Foundation for grooming reports for trails around town (including the first three places on this list). Popular spots include:
 
  • Bridger Peak Golf Course: Because it’s so flat, the Bridger Creek Golf Course only has beginner trails, making it a great place to learn. Plus, you’ll be treated to gorgeous views of the Bridgers throughout.
  • Hyalite Canyon: Hyalite is full of beginner and intermediate cross-country ski trails. Plus, some of the trails loop around Hyalite Reservoir, meaning you’ll get stunning views of the frozen expanse of water surrounded by forest.
  • Bozeman Creek / Sourdough Canyon: This out-and-back intermediate trail takes you to Mystic Lake. The entire trail is about 10 miles round trip, so plan for a full day if you decide to tackle this one!
  • Crosscut Mountain Sports Center: Crosscut offers over 25 miles of groomed trails of all levels. Plus, you can sign up for lessons if you want to learn to ski or improve your technique.
 
 

Snowshoeing

Many trails in and near town will be packed down from frequent use, so you don’t really need snowshoes; microspikes will be just fine. However, snowshoes do come in handy on most trails after a big snowfall. The day after a large dump is definitely the best time to try them out!
 
If you’re keen on snowshoeing regardless of the snow conditions, try Hyalite Canyon or Crosscut Mountain Sports Center. Hyalite Canyon has plenty of trails, so you’re bound to find something with deeper snow. The Hyalite Creek to Hyalite Lake Trail is a great option. While the first part of the hike will most likely be packed down, you’ll probably need snowshoes for the last couple of miles to reach the lake (or more, depending on whether or not there was a recent snowfall). At over 10 miles round trip, plan for a full day!
 

Ice Climbing

Adventurers come from all over the world to climb the ice in Hyalite Canyon. The beautiful scenery, large number of routes in close proximity to each other, and easy accessibility make it a world-class destination in its own right. You can even attend the Bozeman Ice Festival in early December!
 
If you want to hire a guide (highly recommended if you’re a beginner), Montana Alpine Guides is a great place to go. They offer an assortment of ice climbing trips, from beginner half days to expert-level multi-pitch outings. Or, if you’re a seasoned climber, you can rent gear at Uphill Pursuits.
 

Fly Fishing

If temperatures cooperate, you can certainly still go fly fishing in the winter! Not for the faint of heart, you’ll definitely need to be prepared with insulated waders and other warm-weather gear.
 
The Madison River is a great option close to Bozeman. Thanks to its fast-flowing current, most stretches are open water all year round. For more information on winter fly fishing, to rent gear, or to book a guided trip, head to The River’s Edge.
 
 

Fat Biking

Craving a bike outing? Try fat biking! In town, try Peet’s Hill or the East Gallatin Rec Area (keep in mind that you can’t fat bike on groomed cross-country skiing trails). Ride the paved Gallagator Trail, or head to Crosscut for trails that are guaranteed to be groomed.
 
Rent a fat bike at Owenhouse Cycling.
 
To learn more about winter activities in and near Bozeman, go to VisitBozeman.com or DowntownBozeman.org.
 
If you’re interested in learning more about Bozeman luxury homes for sale, please reach out! I look forward to hearing from you!
 
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