Palisade Falls

What the Heck is Hyalite?

Explaining Bozeman’s playground

by Phil Knight

Why go all the way to Glacier Park for high, rugged mountains when you can get into serious high country less than an hour from your door? Just south of Bozeman lies one of the world’s greatest multisport mountain playgrounds. In Hyalite Canyon and the surrounding peaks, you can pretty much do it all.

This has long been the go-to place for locals seeking their mountain fix. But Hyalite has matured from a place to shoot old televisions, cut firewood, and get your truck stuck to a sophisticated adventure Mecca. Motorized recreation has been scaled back in favor of human-powered pursuits and wildlife conservation. Thanks to effective winter road plowing, what used to be a mess of stuck rigs and frozen ruts is now a fairly easy drive.

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You want wildlife, Hyalite’s got it—even wolves and grizzly bears are making a comeback here in the north end of the Gallatin Range. Mountain goats and bighorn sheep skitter across ridge tops, golden eagles ride the thermals, moose lurk in the deep woods, and coyotes cruise for stray poodles.

Though Hyalite is close enough to Bozeman for great day tripping, you can also pitch your tent or park your camper at Langhor, Hood Creek, or Chisholm campgrounds. Or, if you prefer a fully equipped cabin, reserve the Window Rock or Maxey cabins—both accessible by car in the summer or easy approach on showshoe or ski in the winter.

Brim-full early in the summer, the reservoir is a paradise for boaters seeking still water. Stand-up paddleboarders look like lost surfers, families putt along in overloaded outboards bristling with fishing poles and dogs, and couples enjoying evening picnics paddle by canoe or kayak. Hardy scuba divers train in the chilly depths of the snowmelt-fed water and boaters jump ship to take a cool swim—just watch the sunken stumps. There’s great fishing year-round, and in winter, ice fishers set up shop on the frozen tabletop. More remote lakes beckon from the backcountry, offering awesome lakeside camping and fishing.

Palisade Falls

Palisade Falls

While quality rock is limited in Hyalite, a few crags offer some fine routes for rock jocks. Despite its diminutive size, Practice Rock has variety and challenge enough for days of climbing, and Crocodile Rock offers quieter but more awkward crack climbs. Come winter, the climbing opportunities expand to one of the world’s great ice and mixed-route destinations. From humble WI2 flows like Greensleeves to multi-pitch rock and ice epics like Winter Dance, you can find a lifetime of ice in Hyalite.

Photo by Ryan KruegerIce Climbing in Hyalite

Hyalite’s trail system is legendary and offers anything from an easy stroll to weeklong expeditions through the heart of a 500,000-acre roadless area. Throw in heaps of spectacular waterfalls, like Grotto, Palisade, and Horsetail, and it’s hard to find more classic hikes. Epic mountain biking also awaits, with favorite rides including History Rock trail into South Cottonwood Canyon, the East Fork trail to Emerald Lake, and the easier West Shore Trail along Hyalite Reservoir.

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Skiing through Hyalite just keeps getting better

 Ski-trail grooming has expanded every winter lately, and now there are enough quality Nordic ski trails to keep you coming back every winter weekend. Call the posse and assemble some avalanche gear, and you can ski from a 10,000-foot peak almost any time of year. I’ve skied Blackmore in late June and snowboarded it by full moon in December.

 Grab some buddies and go for a late summer evening paddle. Load the bikes and grind up some steep switchbacks. Sharpen the tools and swing for all you’re worth on a giant popsicle. Clean the gun and don the camo and creep deep into the woods to fill the freezer with a year’s supply of elk. No matter what you’re after, you can probably find it in Hyalite.

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Caffeine Craving

A guide to Bozeman’s coffee and tea shops.

by Morgan Solomon

With so many coffee shops in town, it can be overwhelming to decide where to get the drink you’re looking for. Here is a simple guide to get you started.

STRAIGHT-UP BLACK
So, you like your coffee black, cowboy? Do you prefer the kind that’s strong enough to make a horseshoe stand upright and your lips pucker? Perhaps you have a craving for a coffee with hints of cinnamon or chocolate to awaken your taste buds? Stop at Zocalo or International Coffee Traders for a cup-o’-joe to ease the stress of school and perk up the cranium. Both shops offer coffee from all over the world. Roasted in small batches, the warm coffee flavor is preserved for your enjoyment.

Zocalo Coffee

Zocalo Coffee

Hot tip: Café M offers a weekly house blend from Ghost Town Coffee Roasters that you can’t get anywhere else.

Author’s choice: Sumatra Tano Batak (nutmeg, toffee, and chocolate brownie) from Zocalo.

SOMETHING SWEET
Craving desert after dinner or a delicious reward for studying hard? Check out the Leaf & Bean for their lattés, mochas and hot chocolates. Don’t forget to glance at the specials board  for their specialty drinks. Need a little spice with your sugar? Wild Joe’s has a unique selection of chai lattés with various proportions of sugar and spice.

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It tastes even better than it looks.

Hot tip: If you find yourself at International Coffee Traders try the London Fog. It’s to die for.

Author’s choice: Red Velvet Mocha from the Leaf & Bean.

TEA
Need something that’s less harsh on the pearly whites or  just more of a tea person? Check out Townshend’s Tea Company. No matter what you’re looking for, their assortment of teas will satisfy your taste buds. Need caffeine to keep you awake? Ask for the yerba máte. If you need something to calm the body and soul, try one of the non-caffeinated herbal or apothecary teas.  Need help in the flavor department? Licorice and sarsaparilla are sweeter teas, while black and green teas from China and Japan bear bitter and raw flavors.   Looking for something entirely different? Townshend’s employees will help you find the exact tea to curb your thirst.

Some of the many teas at Townshend's Tea Company

Some of the many teas at Townshend’s Tea Company

Hot tip: Wild Joe’s has a good selection of teas too, although not a varied as Townshend’s.

Author’s choice: Sweet Chamomile Mint (herbal) from Townshend’s Tea.

Sweet Chamomile Mint tea

MEAL & COFFEE

While many coffee shops provide pastries and cookies to go with your coffee, sometimes you need a pick-me-up with your midday meal. Sola Café and Rockford Coffee Roasters offer spectacular lunches for a relatively cheap price. Sandwiches, salads and desert are all on the menu with your choice of medium or dark roast coffee.

Hot Tip: Sola also has a special house blend from Ghost Town Coffee Roasters that you can’t get anywhere else.

Author’s Choice: Bolivia Amor Des Dios medium roast (not always available) from Sola.

Coffee Shop Locations:

Café M: 777 East Main
International Coffee Traders: 720 South 10th
Leaf & Bean: 117 East Main
Rockford Coffee Roasters: 628 West Main
Sola Café: 290 West Kagy
Townshend’s Tea Company: 402 East Main
Wild Joe’s: 18 West Main