By Taylor-Ann Smith Explore Big Sky Staff Writer
BOZEMAN – The leaves have turned, apple cider is flowing, and the pumpkins have ripened at Bozeman’s Rocky Creek Farm. North of Frontage Road, across the railroad tracks in an open field stands the farm’s picturesque blue barn, surrounded by antiquated tractors and weathered hay bales. On a perfect fall day, the farm is bustling with families, couples, tourists and locals.
Rocky Creek Farm reminds its customers that everyone can feel like a kid again. Billy goats bask in the field waiting to be flocked by children while tired pigs rest in their muck of hay and mud. The number of fall activities offered at the farm is staggering, from the corn maze to picking pumpkins, from making batches of fresh cider to petting farm animals. And don’t forget the hayrides.
Visitors can start their day by making their own cider, choosing a bucket and filling it from massive bins of Jonathan apples. Once the bucket is filled, walk inside the barn to have your unique batch pressed. One is instantly greeted with the sweet aroma of apple juice, and the smiles of farm employees as they show kids how the machine works. You can leave your bucket with the team to be pressed while you continue your fall adventures.
Outside the barn, children bustle around with their prized pumpkins and parents take endless scrapbook-worthy photos. The unique part of harvesting a pumpkin here is that the only way to the patch is on a hayride. The tractors all have their own character – each a different model with varying amounts of rust – and slowly chug along with a youngster steering the machine from an employee’s lap.
Upon reaching the pumpkin patch, one can’t help but grin watching children run around seeking the perfect pumpkin. Once you’ve gathered your crop, take the hayride back to the barn to purchase your harvest. Only cash or check is accepted at the vintage, early 1900s cash register.
Then you can return to the cider. Rocky Creek Farm offers home fermenting kits to give your batch a special kick if you desire. Keep in mind that the cider is fresh and unpasteurized, and since there are no additives or preservatives, it must be consumed within a week or frozen to keep bacteria away.
Whether you travel here as a family to make seasonal memories or stop by to stock up on fresh produce, Rocky Creek’s 50-acre farm is an ideal place to celebrate the changing season.
Rocky Creek Farm opened in 1981 and is located at 34297 Frontage Road east of Bozeman. Hours vary depending on the season and weather. The fall hours are: Tuesday through Friday from 1-5 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. The farm is closed Mondays. Visit rockycreekfarm.com or call (406) 585-0225 for more information.