Time to Choose Your Winter Activity

Bozeman outdoor recreation is just heating up.

In Montana, we typically have some fairly intense winter weather. Temps can be low, winds can be high, and the snow can get deep … sometimes very deep. Choosing an open-air winter activity is essential to weathering the season. For many outdoor enthusiasts, downhill skiing or snowboarding is the go-to choice. Bozeman is fortunate to have three world class ski resorts, Bridger Bowl Ski Area (16 miles), Big Sky Resort (54 miles), and Moonlight Basin (56 miles) with acres of scenic terrain for skiers and shredders of all skill levels to explore. Given that there may be limited access at these locations this season, now could be the ideal time to explore some alternative cold weather recreation options. 

Cross-country skiing is both an exceptional workout and one of the most peaceful outdoor activities you can experience. As a child, I had a different opinion. In fact, despite the smile on my face in the featured photo, I struggled to keep up with my family and spent most of the time with my fake fur coat caked in snow. As an adult, cross-country skiing is one of my favorite outings because it doesn’t require much skill and the equipment has vastly improved. It is not unusual to sneak up to a herd of deer, discover ducks on a pond (if it hasn’t frozen yet of course), or encounter any of the many varieties of wildlife that call Montana home. The advantage of this type of skiing is the variety of locations you can explore. The Bridger Ski Foundation grooms over 70 km of winter trails at six locations in Bozeman. In fact, three nearby cross-country ski areas are in the running for the “best cross-country ski resort” category of USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards competition. Crosscut Mountain Sports Center (near Bozeman), Lone Mountain Ranch (near Big Sky) and Rendezvous Ski Trails (near West Yellowstone).

Snowmobiling is another popular winter activity, especially for those who want to cover a lot of scenic terrain quickly. If you are a novice, you will definitely want to pair up with someone who can help you safely navigate your trip. I will never forget my first (and last!) time on a snowmobile. Every snowbank, tree, and rock in my path was at risk. The men in my family are big fans of snowmobiling and have legendary stories to tell. Their favorite destination is Yellowstone Park which should be on any adventurer’s bucket list. Visitmt.com provides a comprehensive list of snowmobile guide and rental locations and the Montana Snowmobile Association offers several useful insights for new and experienced riders. 

Snowshoeing in and around Bozeman is another popular option for adventure. If you love to hike, snowshoeing may be the perfect winter activity. Not only does this choice deliver another excellent workout, but you can explore remote terrain because snowshoes can take you anywhere you can take them. Whether you want to conquer a mountain slope or just go for a walk without falling through the snow, snowshoeing is a great alternative to skiing. 

There are plenty of local equipment rental sources to get you ready to explore the possibilities. As with all outdoor activities, make sure to plan accordingly. 

  • Layer your clothing as you will warm as you recreate. 
  • Bring sunscreen and sunglasses to protect from the reflecting sun. 
  • Use the buddy system. 
  • Take plenty of water and snacks, maybe even a picnic lunch.
  • Pack out what you pack in. 

The most important advice for enjoying Montana in the winter … have fun, bring a camera, and make lasting memories!

The opportunities for discovery during your next Montana adventure are unlimited and Cherry Creek Guest House is ready to serve as your home away.

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