Everything You've Been Missing in Southern Montana This Winter

Montana’s Big Sky Resort comprises just under 6,000 acres of ski terrain (Image:  Wikimedia Commons )

Montana’s Big Sky Resort comprises just under 6,000 acres of ski terrain (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Looking for some wintertime fun before spring gets here? Whether you have a couple of free days, an entire week, or whatever, it might just be time to book a ticket out west — to Montana, that is! From world-renowned skiing and snowboarding to snowshoeing, hiking, hot springs, and ice fishing, Big Sky Country has a lot to offer cold weather fans.

Though there are many options as far as where to go, one of my definite favorites is the Gallatin Valley. I might be a little biased on account of the fact that I lived there for a few years while attending Montana State University, but it’s pretty hard to beat Bozeman, especially when it’s located in between two spectacular Rocky Mountain ski resorts: Big Sky Resort and Bridger Bowl Ski Area.

With just under 6,000 acres of breathtaking terrain, Big Sky, located to the southwest of Bozeman, is a must for anyone out there who claims to be a skier or snowboarder. Even if you don’t, though, there is still something for just about everyone. Whether in winter or any other season, hikers, especially, will never have to look too hard to find their next adventure. One of my favorite hikes in the world, the Ousel Falls Park Trail, is located at the resort, in fact. A beautiful trail that is accessible to all, the 1.6-mile hike, located near Gallatin Gateway, features a beautiful waterfall and is good for all skill levels.

The resort is not lacking when it comes to dining either. Whether you want to class it up for a night out or have a casual bite to eat, the culinary options are truly next level. Have a candlelit dinner inside a cozy yurt at The Montana Dinner Yurt, grab a burger and some craft beer at Montana Jack, or really class things up with a visit to Everett’s 8800, an elegant, rustic restaurant at the top of Andesite Mountain providing fantastic views of Lone Peak Mountain. Other dining options can be found here, as well.

Northeast of Bozeman, the Bridger Bowl Ski Area may only offer 2,000 acres of ski terrain, but here it’s all about quality over quantity. From beginner to expert, the bowls provide a wide variety of terrain and the views of the Bridger Mountain Range are out of this world.

With nonstop flights to Bozeman from 17 cities and counting, including the likes of Chicago, Denver, and Minneapolis, both Bridger and Big Sky are more accessible than ever — but Bozeman itself should not be passed up, either. Whether you’re aiming to take a family vacation, get away for a romantic weekend, or head out for an adventure with your friends, this beautiful college town nestled in the mountains is worth the trip in its own right.

Downtown Bozeman offers top-end shopping options and plenty of restaurants that will make your mouth water. Some of my favorites are Copper Whiskey Bar & Grill, Open Range, The Garage, Montana Ale Works, and Jam!, just to name a few. The growing city has many options for families, too, with one of my favorite family-friendly spots being the Museum of the Rockies. Hiking is a popular activity here, too, as miles and miles of trails connect the city to the mountains. Whether you hop on the M Trail for a can’t-miss view of the valley or stroll up Peets Hill to take in the sunset, I guarantee you’ll be in awe. Also not-to-miss? Hyalite Reservoir, a great spot for camping and fishing.

As for accommodations, you can easily snag an Airbnb right at the base of the mountains for a quiet stay or thrust yourself into the center of it all by finding a cozy spot downtown. If not Airbnb, some hotels/motels to check out would be The LARK, a redbrick hotel featuring modern, minimalist rooms; The Lindley House, a Victorian B&B offering stylish quarters; and the Lewis and Clark Motel, an eclectic three-story spot on West Main Street.

Bozeman is a city full of heart and while its views will make you fall in love, you’ll want to come back because of the locals. Mark your map now, because you do not want to miss this place.

-Mel