Law of the Land

Bozeman trail etiquette.

by EJ Porth

We’re pretty lucky to have the 80-mile Main Street to the Mountains trail system right outside our back doors. From campus, you can get downtown or to the top of a mountain—the options are endless. Bikers, runners, dog-owners, commuters, and walkers keep the trails busy, making it everyone’s responsibility to follow the rules so we can care for our community trails and respect fellow users. Being a good trail user is a big deal here in Bozeman. Nothing gets you more glares and frustrated sighs than bad etiquette. But don’t worry—we’ll give you the lowdown on how to fit in and do your part. Here’s what you can do to be an A+ trail user.

Bozeman trail etiquette

A smile and eye contact goes a long way.

Obey signs and trail regulations. If a trail is closed, it’s closed for a reason. If a sign tells you to slow down on your bike, hit the brakes.

Stay on the trail. It might seem like a good idea to take a shortcut between switchbacks, but this can actually create serious damage to the trail. Respect the natural areas around the trail as well. On that note, don’t pick the flowers.

Avoid muddy trails. Especially in the springtime. Hiking or riding muddy trails can cause serious damage and may require significant repair later on. Follow some of the Bozeman trail conditions on Facebook to see what trails are dry and ready to use.

Trail Etiquette Bozeman

Dry trail is good to go; mud means no go.

Keep right. Just like when you’re driving. Pass on the left.

Pass with care. Slow down. Make a noise (some people put bells on their bikes) or announce “on your left” prior to passing.

Honor the right of way. Bikers yield to hikers. Downhill bikers yield to uphill bikers.

Don’t litter. Duh.

PICK UP THE POOP! If you have a dog with you, be mindful of the dog-poop stations with bags and trash cans all along Bozeman’s trail system. Don’t just pick it up and leave the bag on the trail—you’ll forget about it. MSU’s top researchers have proven that ignoring your dog’s poop brings extremely bad trail karma your way.

Obey leash rules. You’re representing all dog owners—help us look good. And no, your dog is not an exception to the rule because it’s “really well behaved.” We all think that about our dogs, but it isn’t always true.

EJ Porth is the communications and outreach manager for the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. For a Main Street to the Mountains trail map, stop by a local outdoor store or the GVLT office on S. Wallace.

Bobcat Fest

Mark It Down

Must-do events.

by Nora Mabie

Bozeman might seem like a small town compared to where you’re from, but it’s bustling with activity. These events are can’t-miss.

Bridger Raptor Fest – October 7-9
This festival is free and focuses on the largest known golden-eagle migration in the United States, which takes place every fall along the Bridger Range. Located at Bridger Bowl, the festival features keynote speakers and includes activities such as raptor viewing, nature walks and talks, and educational entertainment for people of all ages. bridgerraptorfest.org.

Bridger Raptor Fest, Bozeman, Montana, MSU

Gettin’ edu-ma-cated at the Raptor Fest.

Huffing for Stuffing – November 24
This is one of Bozeman’s largest races, and it’s for a good cause. Proceeds go to the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, and last year they raised $51,000. The race offers a 5k fun run, a 5k timed run, and a 10k. So, sign up, get your turkey costume, and run off all those calories you’ll be gulping down later. huffingforstuffing.com. 

Christmas Stroll – December 3
Always on the first Saturday in December, the Christmas Stroll is one of Bozeman’s greatest holiday traditions. Take a picture with Santa as he makes his way from the Emerson Cultural Center down Main Street. Make sure to partake of hot cocoa or soup—this stroll can be frigid.

Bozeman Ice Fest – December 7-11
Watch some of the most talented ice climbers from around the world compete against each other in this now-famous competition. Proceeds from the event go to Friends of Hyalite, a nonprofit that supports winter access into Hyalite Canyon. bozemanicefest.com. 

Bozeman Ice Festival, Outside Bozeman, MSU

Swinging axes at the Ice Fest.

Wild West Winterfest – TBA
Bundle up and head down to the Gallatin Valley Fairgrounds for some fun (and less common) winter activities. The fest includes history exhibits with activities for kids, a dog keg-pull, skijoring, a snowmobile race, and more. Or if you’ve got what it takes, enter the chili cook-off for a shot at great prizes. gallatin.mt.gov. 

Torchlight Parade at Bridger Bowl – December 30
Usher in the New Year with a downhill torchlight parade from the top of Bridger Bowl. A family-style dinner is served in the Jim Bridger Lodge and live music accompanies the meal. bridgerbowl.com. 

Run to the Pub – March 11
Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day not by drinking your fill, but by running a race and benefiting the Bozeman Area Community Foundation. There’s a 10k and a half-marathon, and both courses are over 90% downhill, so you’ve got gravity on your side. runtothepub.com. 

VarnerB_run2pub (8)

How Bozeman celebrates St. Paddy’s Day.

Bobcat Fest – 4/28
On the last Friday of classes, join MSU students, faculty, and the Bozeman community on Main Street for good food and free music. Don’t miss this chance to thank Bozeman while the public thanks MSU for being an essential part of the community. calendar.msu.montana.edu.

Bozeman, Montana

Welcome to Bozeman

by the editors of Outside Bozeman

It seems like only yesterday my beat-up Honda sputtered over Bozeman Pass and into town. Fresh from Flat-and-Boring, USA, I found my new surroundings breathtaking: jagged lofty mountains, beautiful flowing rivers, and endless powder-blue skies. It didn’t take me long, but as you’re about to find out, choosing Bozeman is one of the best decisions you can make.

Bridger Mountains, Bridger Ridge, Outside Bozeman

The Bridger Range: your new back yard.

Our town is truly a place where the world’s most diverse outdoor opportunities are right at your fingertips. Blue-ribbon trout streams, world-class waterfall ice, deep stashes of fresh powder… all right in our collective back yard. In about 30 minutes, you could be blasting through whitewater rapids, climbing a massive granite wall, or peacefully floating down some lazy river, cooler and friends happily in tow. If the possibilities here seem endless, that’s because they are.

And for the vast quantity of outdoor exploits, there are just as many cultural events. Film festivals, art walks, salsa dancing, farmers markets, and dozens of local bands are available to fill your calendar all year long. Music on Main? TEDx Bozeman? Sweet Pea? You might not know what these events are yet, but by the end of the school year, you will. From down-home rodeos to posh wine tastings, Bozeman’s got the entire spectrum. It’s the cultural centerpiece of southwest Montana.

Bogert Farmers' Market, Winter Market, Outside Bozeman

Local eats at the farmers’ market.

Bozeman residents seem to be just as diverse. Rowdy cowboys cheer right alongside hippies at the big homecoming game; jocks shoot pool with the mellow ski bums at the local bar. Instead of factionalizing over differences, the locals here have it figured out: this rich melting pot of culture and country is what makes our town so great. It seems that Bozeman has found (and kept) the perfect balance of big-city opportunity and small-town hospitality.

Now, nearly 15 years after my first day, I’m just as in love. Bozeman still just keeps getting better. Our little mountain town continues to bloom, offering new and exciting opportunities for everyone, from the lifetime local to the starry-eyed freshman. Trust me when I say you’ll only truly regret the things you didn’t do—so put the textbooks down every so often and go have an adventure.