The moniker, “Valley of Flowers,” only scratches the surface of the many places to experience and enjoy in Bozeman. But that’s what we’d expect from a town that is home to Montana State University. You’ll find a myriad of activities and places to see that will fill your days with good eats and interesting history. And the outdoor recreation is unparalleled. Interested in exploring more? Keep reading to learn what Bozeman, Montana has to offer.
A Brief History of Bozeman
The city gets its name from one of its most famous residents, John M. Bozeman, founder of the trail and town of his name. It opened a route from the Oregon Trail to the rich gold mining areas of the state. But its history goes back further than that.
Many American Indian nations lived in the area for thousands of years including the Nez Perce, Blackfeet, and Shoshone. It’s easy to understand the attraction, given the stunning beauty of the landscape of the Gallatin Valley. William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition visited the area on a side trip in July 1806. His journal entries at the time the indigenous people’s description of the land as the “Valley of the Flowers.”
Later, John Bozeman farmed the area raising wheat and potatoes near the gold mines of nearby Virginia City, MT. Montana pioneer, Nelson Story, cemented the foothold of agriculture with the introduction of longhorn cattle. These events set the stage for an influx of miners and settlers through the tumultuous years of conflict with the local peoples. The path to settlement was established when the Northern Pacific Railway came to Montana.
Attractions to Visit in Bozeman
Many of the things to do in Bozeman, Montana hearken back to its rich history. You’ll find a host of historical sites and museums to whet your appetite for learning more about this fascinating city. But the beauty of the area is the star attraction with many places to immerse yourself in the magnificence of nature.
The city celebrates its past with several museums and attractions that take you back to the pioneer days. A must-see is the Museum of the Rockies. The Paugh History Hall will guide you through the area’s timeline through the lives of American Indians, gold miners, and white settlers. Looking for something on the wild side? Be sure and visit the museum’s Siebel Dinosaur Complex, home to the country’s largest collection of North American dinosaur fossils.
For something completely different, stop by the American Computer and Robotics Museum, voted one of the top 10 free venues in the country by USA Today. To learn more about the local history, visit the Gallatin History Museum to view its unique collection of artifacts and historical images. There’s also the Emerson Cultural Center and Children’s Museum of Bozeman & STEAMlab to get your fill of all things past and future.
You can take in the splendor of the Gallatin Canyon and Palisade Falls on your own to experience what early settlers might have felt when they first saw this are. Or you might consider going on a fishing charter to try your luck at fly fishing in some of the most pristine waters you’ll ever encounter.
If you’re looking for something with a faster pace, there’s no beating the first-class skiing at Bridger Bowl. It has over 75 trails and 2,000 acres of skiable terrain to get your fix. You can rent ski and snowboard equipment onsite. Need a refresher course? You can take a lesson from a pro or go on a guided tour.
You’ll find plenty of opportunities for hiking on any of the area’s many trails or parks including the 920,310-acre Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area. The city has 42 public parks with 52 miles of trails. Bear in mind that most sites are multiple-user sites.
Mountain bikers will have plenty of opportunities to take to the hills with a variety of beginner to challenging paths. During the winter, you can ski on groomed trails or zip around on snowmobile to get your thrill of adventure. You can also saddle up and enjoy some horseback riding to enjoy the mountain scenery firsthand.
Or if you’re looking for a real adventure, be sure and check out the opportunities for whitewater rafting and ziplines. There are plenty of opportunities for kayaking too on the Madison, Yellowstone, and Gallatin Rivers. You’ll have your choice of half-day, full-day, or mini vacations to tailor your trip to your needs.
The Wild Side
Bozeman is more than a place to visit; it’s something you experience. You can immerse yourself in the outdoors with a nature tour or safari. See the wildlife in its natural settings. Want to do something more unusual? How about a close encounter with a grizzly? The Montana Grizzly Encounter is a sanctuary for rescued animals. Learn more about these magnificent animals in the safe confines of the site.
Cultural Attractions and Shopping
If you’re seeking something a bit tamer, be sure to check out the arts and culture of Bozeman, Montana. You can catch a show at the historic Ellen Theatre or enjoy a classical experience at the Intermountain Opera. There’s also the Ecce Fine Art Gallery which showcases local and regional talent with an emphasis on eclectic art.
There are plenty of opportunities for shopping on a walk in downtown Bozeman with many gift shops and specialty stores to browse. The town has an antique mall if you’re looking for a collectible piece to add to your treasures. And if you get thirsty along the way, stop in for a tour at the Gear Belly Pub or visit the tasting room at the Bozeman Spirits Distillery.
Bozeman is also home to one of the three facilities of Gibson Brands, Inc. This site produces its lines of full acoustic guitars. Unfortunately, you can’t visit the factory, but at least you can say you drove by it.
Restaurants in Bozeman
The decision about where to eat in Bozeman, Montana won’t be easy because there are so many options. Many restaurants are vegetarian and gluten-free friendly. You’ll find outstanding choices for fine dining for seafood at the Feast Raw Bar & Bistro and Gallatin River Grill. Feeling like Asian food? Be sure and stop by the Montana Fish Company or Bisl Food.
Bozeman celebrates its local produce and game which it features in several restaurants that offer these options. Some places to check out include Open Range, Plonk, and 14 North. There are places where you’ll find local brews like Bridger Brewing and Montana Ale Works. In Bozeman, you don’t just eat local; you drink local too.
You’ll find a wide range of cuisines from Thai to Mexican to Italian. There are moderately priced establishments as well as cheap eats for a quick meal in between tourist stops. For a town tucked away in southwest Montana, Bozeman has a lot to offer visitors.
Accommodations in Bozeman
The city has you covered when it comes to where to stay in Bozeman, Montana. You’ll have your choice of mainstream hotels and motels from value priced to luxury. But there’s so much more from to choose. You can make your visit more of an experience at a guest ranch with opportunities to hunt or fish.
Looking for something more rustic? Book your vacation at a lodge where you’ll be pampered with gourmet cooking and spa amenities. You can enjoy luxury accommodations at one of the area’s bed and breakfast inns. Or for the ultimate retreat, you can stay at one of the historic mansions such as the Lindley House, Voss Inn, or Lehrkind Mansion Bed and Breakfast.
If you want a more private getaway, check out one of the cabin resorts such as the Explorer Cabins at Yellowstone or the 320 Ranch to fulfill your dreams of trout fishing alone in the wilderness or horseback riding through Montana’s stunning landscape. You can find whatever experience you’re looking for among its wide selection of accommodations.
You can also opt for a more rustic retreat by camping on one of the private campgrounds or in the 2,149,629-acre Gallatin National Forest. If a tent isn’t your thing, you can always go with an SUV or truck rental from Paradise Overland. They’ll set you up with all the essential gear and a complete camp kitchen with a pop-up or a rooftop tent.
Planning Your Bozeman Vacation
Bozeman, Montana has a continental climate which means that the summers are hot and the winters, cold. If you’re looking for a break from high humidity, this is the place to visit. It’s dry from May through October with abundant sunshine. You can expect bitterly cold temperatures from November through March. That’s part of what gives the area its ruggedness and is part of its attraction.
Bozeman offers a true wilderness getaway with incredible scenery to immerse yourself in nature. It’s a place that celebrates its heritage with many historical attractions to visit and restaurants serving local cuisine. And it has its soft side too with an emphasis on luxury whether you’re looking for first-class spa retreat or a gourmet meal. It lives up to its name as the “Valley of Flowers.”