By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor
SANTA FE – Bozeman is in the running. Turns out this southwest Montana paradise may be one of the nation’s best places for an active person, according to Outside magazine. Bozeman is included on a 2013 shortlist alongside San Francisco, Waitsfield, Vt., and Honolulu, and readers are now voting for the “best active town” through a Facebook app online.
The Outside editors first chose approximately 100 U.S. cities, assessed them by metrics including average home prices and income and standard of living, said associate editor Ryan Krogh, who’s running the contest. To narrow them down to the 10 finalists, the editors “looked at outdoorsy things like mountain biking, trail running, road cycling and fishing,” Krogh said. “Bozeman obviously fits.”
The magazine has written up a similar annual “best towns” feature for nearly 20 years, Krogh said, and this isn’t the first time Bozeman’s been included.
“It’s one of our readers’ favorite packages, and it gets the most attention from them.”
Now in its third year, the online contest began in late May and runs through June 7.
Selecting the winning town involves two ranking systems, Krogh explained. “One is just pure votes, and the second part is more subjective – the enthusiasm of [those] reaching out through the app, adding comments about their favorite trails, rivers they like to float or fish on, or their favorite bar to go to after a road bike ride.”
“People really are passionate about their hometowns or places they’ve lived in their lives, so when they see a competition like this, it’s an easy click. These towns are such great travel destinations as well as places to live, and people have opinions about these places.”
The contest has attracted upwards of 20,000 voters in the last two years, Krogh said, recalling the banter and smack-talk online.
Richmond, Va., won the contest last year for “best river town,” and was featured on the cover of the October 2012 issue of the print magazine.
“It’s one of those major accolades that we’ll be able to point to for years,” said Erin Bagnell of Richmond Region Tourism office. “It gave us a catalyst to tout ourselves more and heavier as an outdoor destination, a nice stamp to use going forward, a seal of approval and a wonderful thing to point to going down the road.”
The Richmond community rallied around the voting, Bagnell said. “[You could] see the buzz in Richmond… It was very organic. People got really jazzed up about it. [One] brewery hosted a get-out-the vote event.”
All 10 finalists from this year’s contest will appear in the September issue of Outside magazine, with the winner featured in a larger-format piece.
“It’s fun to give readers what they want,” Krogh said. “Frankly, who doesn’t dream of living in a better place? This is a great outlet for those dreams.”