Bozeman lands in Outside’s Best Towns

By Emily Wolfe Explore Big Sky Managing Editor

It was 7 p.m. when Explore Big Sky staff writer Tyler Allen and I pulled into the trailhead for Storm Castle Mountain. A wild rainstorm had just torn through Gallatin Canyon, but now it was just a drizzle.

I kicked off my work shoes, pulled on my runners, and we started up the trail before I could decide I was too tired. After a few minutes I started to feel more energetic, and the rain stopped entirely. After a half hour, we stopped at a ledge overlooking Garnet Mountain and Gallatin Canyon.

The sun lit the limestone towers lining Storm Castle Creek to our east, and in the west it cast soft blue light over the layered hills and peaks in the Madison Range.

All this, on the commute from Big Sky to Bozeman – and you can have it almost any day of the year. Maybe this is the Best Place Ever.

Outside Magazine readers certainly think so: Bozemanites voted their city as one of America’s Best Towns in the magazine’s third annual online poll announced Aug. 12.

The online contest’s goal was to find America’s best place to be healthy, wrote author Kyle Dickman.

“We wanted a town with ample trailheads, nearby adventure, great farmers’ markets, and, hopefully, a competitive gear-shop scene.”

The editors started with the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual list of the country’s 50 healthiest cities, and then added a few small and midsize active towns that the metro-centric pool overlooked (read: Bozeman). Then they called local outdoor athletes to help narrow down the finalists, and put them up for a three-week vote on Facebook.

Readers cast more than 21,000 votes online, according to Dickman’s story. Although Greenville, S.C., population 60,000, had the most votes with 7,154, Park City Utah scored No. 1 for its per capita involvement: it received two-thirds as many votes (5,179) as it has residents. With 1,836 votes, Bozeman slid in at a solid fifth place.

“The place you live helps to create who you become,” Dickman quoted local yoga instructor Carol Flaherty as saying. And “What kind of person does Bozeman create?” he asked in the story. “Someone who hikes in half a dozen mountain ranges, fishes world-class trout streams, and refuels with grass-fed beef from local ranches.”

Other top towns include Ann Arbor, Mich., Honolulu, Hawaii, Spokane, Wash. Boston, Mass., Waitsfield, Vt., and Washington D.C.

Bozeman stats
Population: 38,695
Median Household Income: $44,412
Median Home Price: $269,000
Unemployment: 4.8 percent