Fall Activities in Bozeman

Local Blog Charlotte Durham October 13, 2022

 
It’s easy to fall in love with Bozeman, especially in autumn. There are so many options to enjoy fall activities in Bozeman! The days are still pleasantly warm, while the evenings become the perfect temperature for bonfires and tailgates. The leaves on many of the trees burst into vibrant sunset shades. Aspens, larches, and cottonwoods turn a brilliant gold color, while birches and maples transform into striking red and orange hues.
 
The crowds dwindle as the summer tourists leave. Students come back to Montana State University, lending a back-to-school feel. Weekends are jam-packed with hikes, football games, corn mazes, and anything involving pumpkins. Here’s how to get the most out of this exciting season in Bozeman.
 

VISIT A FARM FOR AUTUMN ACTIVITIES

No fall season is complete without a visit to a pumpkin patch, and the one at Rocky Creek Farm is one of the best. In fact, they call it a “Fall Festival,” with activities like hay rides, apple picking, animal petting, and more every weekend from late September until Halloween.
 
Rocky Creek Farm
 

ATTEND A FOOTBALL GAME – GO MSU BOBCATS!

Bozeman is home to Montana State University (MSU), so going to a football game is a must. While any game would be entertaining, it’s worth checking when the MSU Bobcats play the University of Montana’s Grizzlies (or Griz for short). There’s a serious rivalry between the two schools, so those games can get quite rowdy.
 
 

GET LOST IN A CORN MAZE

The Bozeman Maze is open from late September to the end of October. You can visit during the day, but they also stay open late for “Flashlight Nights” on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. The fun doesn’t just end at the maze, though—they also have hayrides, a pumpkin patch, a mini-train, and more!
 
 

GO FOR A FALL FOLIAGE WALK OR DRIVE

There’s no shortage of places to see autumn colors in Bozeman, both in and close to town. In Bozeman, you can head to Lindley Park, drive through the tree-lined Willson Avenue, or take in the views from the top of Peet’s Hill. Just outside of Bozeman, take a drive to Bridger or Hyalite Canyon for some seriously awe-inspiring scenery. Foliage is usually brightest from early October to early November, although every year varies.
 
 
 

HIT THE TRAILS FOR A HIKE

Bozeman, and the surrounding area, has a plethora of hiking opportunities. For quick jaunts closer to town, try the iconic College MDrinking Horse, or Triple Tree trails. Further from Bozeman, try Sypes Canyon for beautiful aspen groves, where you can summit Mount Baldy from here if you’re up for a challenge. You can also try the South Cottonwood Creek Trail, which follows a creek lined with — of course — cottonwoods.
 
Wear or pack layers because the weather can change quickly. A warm autumn day can become chilly once clouds cover the sun.
 
 

TRY ROCK CLIMBING

Fall is the perfect time for rock climbing: it’s not so hot, the rocks are still dry, and the weather is fairly predictable. Hyalite Canyon is close by and home to the popular climbing area called Practice Rock. You’ll find 25 different routes with plenty of opportunities for bouldering and top-rope, for beginners and experts alike. You can also check out Gallatin Canyon or Bozeman Pass for more climbing possibilities.
 

RELAX IN HOT SPRINGS

The cooler autumn evenings are the perfect time to take a dip in one of the many hot springs in the area. In Bozeman, you’ll find the aptly named Bozeman Hot Springs. If you’re willing to drive a little further, Norris Hot Springs and Chico Hot Springs are also great options. Yellowstone Hot Springs is the furthest, but lends to some seriously gorgeous scenery. It’s close to Yellowstone National Park, after all!
 
 

GO FLY FISHING

One of our favorite fall activities in Bozeman is to go fly fishing! Fish become more active as water temperatures drop at the end of summer. The cooler water tells them that winter is coming, so they’re more aggressive in their search for food. This makes fall a great time to get outside and catch some dinner!
Fly fishing is extremely popular in Bozeman. With three nearby rivers to choose from, it’s easy to see why. Notable fishing spots include Bear Trap Canyon on the Madison River and Axtell Bridge on the Gallatin River.
 

GO FOR A BIKE RIDE

Take a slow, relaxing ride through Bozeman via the Main Street to the Mountains trail system. You’ll find them all throughout town, snaking through parks and along city streets. You can also try the “Path to the M,” a trail that starts at Story Mill Park and ends at the M and Drinking Horse trailheads. Plus, biking through fallen, crunchy leaves is pretty fun!
 
If you’re looking for something with more adrenaline, try mountain biking. In the fall, mountain biking trails are still dry and easily accessible. The cooler weather makes those uphill climbs a little easier.
Whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned pro, Bozeman has a mountain biking trail perfect for your comfort level. If you don’t have a bike, you can take your pick from one of the many rental shops in town. Owenhouse CyclingChalet Sports, and Bangtail Bikes all rent out mountain bikes.
 
Beginners and intermediate riders can hit the South Cottonwood and Mystic Lake routes. Both trails start out relatively easy, and become more difficult later on. Because they’re out-and-back, newbies can turn around when the riding gets too technical. Intermediate to advanced riders should try Emerald Lake or the Bangtail Divide for fun rides with scenic views.
 
 

RELAX IN A COFFEE SHOP ON A CHILLY AUTUMN DAY

What’s better than spending an afternoon in a coffee shop on a crisp October day? Many of the spots around Bozeman serve seasonal drinks and treats. Rockford Coffee sells pumpkin cookies and a maple spice latte, among other fall-themed coffee creations. Grab pumpkin chocolate bread at Wild Joe’s, or a classic pumpkin spice latte with whipped cream at Zocalo.
 
You can sit in a clear greenhouse at the Treeline Coffee Roasters on Wallace Avenue. They’re perfect for windy or rainy days: it feels like you’re sitting outside, but you’re still protected from the elements.
 

SHOP FOR SEASONAL PRODUCE AT THE FARMER’S MARKET

Bozeman’s Winter Farmer’s Market starts October 1st and runs through the end of May. Located at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds, you can shop for seasonal produce and other locally sourced goods.
 
Winter Farmers' Market
 

LEARN ABOUT BIRDS OF PREY AT THE BRIDGER RAPTOR FESTIVAL

The Bridger Raptor Festival takes place annually on a weekend in early October. Raptors, in case you’re not familiar with the term, are predatory birds like hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls.
 
The event is free to the public, and takes place during the largest golden eagle migration (so bring your binoculars). At the festival, you can see live bird presentations, build a nest box, learn to identify common raptors, join nature walks, and more. There’s even an Oktoberfest celebration!
 
 
 

BONUS ACTIVITY: HEAD TO YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

Drive to Yellowstone through Paradise Valley, and you’ll see why John Mayer—and many others—moved there. Mountains tower in almost every direction, from the Absaroka Range to the east and the Gallatin Range to the west. The Yellowstone River snakes through the valley, surrounded by golden aspens and cottonwoods.
 
Autumn is a great time to visit Yellowstone National Park. It’s less crowded, the wildlife is actively preparing for a long winter, and the foliage is brilliant. The elk rut, or mating season, also occurs in September and October. Hearing an elk bugle—a sound made by males that’s supposed to attract females—is pretty extraordinary.
 
Don’t forget to check the weather before visiting—it can change quickly, and snow is possible. Also note that you won’t get any service in the park or through much of the valley, so download maps and guides beforehand.
 
Note: The North entrance (AKA the Paradise Valley entrance) is currently closed for road repair, but should open mid-October. You can find out about current park conditions and road closures here. For now, you can skip Paradise Valley and drive to the West Entrance through West Yellowstone.
 
 
Yellowstone Elk
 
Regardless of what you choose to do, you’re sure to have a great time in Bozeman. To learn more about Bozeman, go to VisitBozeman.com or DowntownBozeman.org.
 
For more of the best of Bozeman, check our posts!

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