Spring may seem like the off-season in Big Sky and in Southwest
Montana – the ski resorts are shut down, yet sometimes it continues
to snow. But really, it’s the best time of year. On sunny days, you can
walk on dry trails, rock climb or mountain bike – or hike into the
backcountry and ski beautiful and remote peaks. Visit a historic ghost
town or sit in one of 10 natural hot springs. Go rafting or canoeing.
Fish in the Madison Valley or on the Yellowstone River. Walk your
dog, go to Museum of the Rockies or visit a craft brewery.
Buy a cowboy hat at Bozeman Hat Company, in Gallatin Gateway,
then wear it to Stacey’s Old Faithful Bar and Steakhouse, or head
south to West Yellowstone, where you can check out the Grizzly and
Wolf Discovery Center, and visit our country’s first national park during
the quiet season.
Once the Beartooth Highway is open in mid-May, skiers flock to the
10,947’ pass northeast of Yellowstone that has been called “the most
beautiful drive in America.”
Looking for trip resources in Southwest Montana? Check out
explorebigsky.com. Also, these companies are great for helping
plan a trip: Phasmid Rentals, Bella Treks, Geyser Whitewater,
Enterprise Rentals, Gallatin River Guides, East West Resorts, Resort
Property Management, 320 Ranch, Rainbow Ranch and Lone
Here are some of the Outlaw Partners’
personal picks for spring activities:
Off season in Montana is awesome. You will
have the area to yourself, but you have to be
prepared. For me, the perfect spring day starts
at Bugaboo Cafe for breakfast, followed by
rafting the Gallatin. Then I celebrate with a
Corral burger and a Netflix!
In the spring we like to take the camper and
raft over to Headwaters State Park, near Three
Forks. Camping, rafting and fishing on the
Missouri, and hiking around Lewis and Clark’s
expedition path is fun, and also a perfect way
to prep for summer.
I can’t wait to head to Stacey’s on a Friday
night, sport my new boots, and dance with
some cowboys! I also plan to pump up the tires
on my mountain bike and check out the trails.
I like going to Chico Hot springs. Now is
also a great time to get in some early mountain
biking, because there aren’t a lot of
people out. I like some of the trails in Three
Forks, and it’s usually dry out there.
I love camping and rock climbing at the
Montana Desert, near Pipestone, and am
excited about an upcoming Smith River
trip—I’m learning to fly fish. I hope we get
good weather and don’t tip the boat!
It’s time to hit the road. I’ll drive to Yosemite
National Park and spend a few days in
John Muir’s cathedral. Then, on to Las Vegas
to earn some gas money and remember why
I don’t live in a big city.
Norris Hot Springs is a great place to go for a
soak in the off-season, and doesn’t require a
muddy hike. On weekends, the poolside live
music is pretty sweet, as well as local, organic
food from the grill and a tasty Montana brew.
Afterwards, sometimes I’ll bundle up and
set up camp with friends along the nearby
A Big Sky local’s survival
guide to staying in town:
1. Put the muddy footprints across
your floor to use as a massive
‘board’ for playing Twister.
2. Make a drawing with watersoluble
markers or pencils on
thick paper. Place it outside and
watch it turn into an impressionistic
3. Make tiny boats and sail them
down your driveway or in your
4. Rip photos out of ski magazines
and put them on the dartboard.
Ready, aim, fire.
5. Cover your windows with photos
of the beach. Wear flip-flops and
drink margaritas while wearing your
6. Deny reality: Put a blanket on
your back porch and lay out in the
sun. When you get too cold or wet,
come inside and pretend you just
7. Create a lowest fare watch on
every travel search engine for
8. Celebrate low skin cancer risk.
9. Make fresh lemonade. Heat it up
and drink it warm if necessary.
10. Make tropical snow sculptures
of palm trees and beach balls.