Activities to Keep You Cool this Summer

Summer is the most popular time of the year for people to visit our beautiful state. It is also, in our opinion, one of the best times of the year to get outside and enjoy the endless recreation. We are now in the middle of summer, and although climatologically speaking, we experience “mild” weather here in Bozeman, the summers can be rather warm. During those hot days, many of us will seek “cooler” activities, especially during July and August. We have compiled a list of local activities that will help keep you cool this time of year (they are in no particular order):

1. Floating the Madison River-this is a fun, relaxing way to enjoy a warm summer day. The water is comfortable, the river flow is mellow, and most of the river is fairly shallow. There is a 6 mile stretch on the Madison River that allows day users to “float” from Warm Springs to Black’s Ford on a simple tube, float, or small boat. It is a leisurely activity that requires some planning, as you will need to make sure you remember to schedule how you are going to get from the starting point (with all your items), to the take out, and then back again to get your vehicle. There are local companies that provide tubes, life jackets, shuttles, and everything in between. Allow 4-5 hours from start to finish. Note that this is a great way to cool off, but remember lots of water and sunscreen. It can also be busy, especially on weekends.

2. Hike to waterfalls-Hyalite Canyon is a beautiful area, south of Bozeman that has a large lake, picnic spots, as well as hiking areas. One of our favorites is Palisades Falls, which is a short (less than a mile each way) hike in the trees to a waterfall. The higher elevation, as well as the water cascading off the rocks provides natural cooling for those looking for a break from the heat.

Palisades Falls sm

3. Swimming in a Montana Lake- yes, there are number of lakes that serve as local swimming holes throughout the summer months. Keep in mind that many of the lakes stay cool throughout the summer, so it is great to cool off on a hot summer day, but water temps can stay cool, so limit your time in the water. We like the Bozeman Beach area, Hyalite Reservoir, Cliff and Wade Lakes, or a hike up to Fairy Lake in the Bridgers provides both a hike and beautiful views, as well as a refreshing lake to swim at the end of your hike.

Cliff and Wade Lakes sm

4. Lewis and Clark Caverns-located outside of Three Forks, Montana is Lewis and Clark Caverns, which provides a nice and cool area on a hot summer day. Temps in the caverns are in the 50’s and the guided tour is around 3 hours. It is perfect during the hottest part of the day! Remember to bring water, as you do hike about a mile to get to the start of the tour. There is some basic stooping and climbing over rocks to get through the caverns.

5 & 6. Ziplining through the trees (and Whitewater Rafting)- located just 25 minutes south of the Lodge is a ziplining adventure that takes guests out and over the Gallatin River. The area is in and out of the trees, but the breeze along the river, and the sheltered/ shaded areas sure feel nice on a warm summer afternoon. It is also slightly higher in elevation than Bozeman, so the air temperature can run a few degrees cooler. You can also combine it with a white water rafting trip, which is another great way to cool off. White water rafting down the Gallatin is very exciting, especially early in the summer when water flows are at their peak. The temperature of the Gallatin River can be in the 50’s and 60’s so wet suits are encouraged and provided.

White Water Rafting Gallatin

7. Fly Fishing the Gallatin Canyon- Fly Fishing is another way to stay cool in the summer. Many area rivers stay cool throughout the summer, especially the Gallatin River. The Gallatin Canyon is a beautiful area south of the Lodge that is renowned for its walk/ wade fishing. Whether you have waders or not, the cool waters of the Gallatin, along with the sheltered areas in the canyon offer much cooler conditions than those in the valley. For the adventurous souls, combine hiking and fishing, and trek to one of the many alpine lakes in the Gallatin National Forest for arctic grayling or golden trout. Either way, this can be a nice way to spend a warm summer day!

8. High elevation hikes- generally speaking, the air temperature cools as much as 3-4 degrees for every 1000 feet in elevation gain, and since the Gallatin Valley is 4500-4900 feet in elevation with surrounding mountains as high as 11,000 feet, there are plenty of great hikes that provide solace from summer temperatures that can rise well into the 90’s. One of our favorite hikes close to Bozeman is Sacajawea Peak, at almost 9900 feet. It can be a nice & cool 65 degrees on top of the Peak, while temps in town are well into the 90’s. Or, head south on 191 towards Big Sky, and hike up to Windy Pass. Also, just below 10000 feet, it is a moderate hike that takes you through alpine forests, and into large meadows (great for wildflowers), to a stunning 360 degree viewpoint at the top. Keep in mind that these trails can have snow on them into July, so plan accordingly. Also, be prepared for changes in weather and afternoon thunderstorms throughout the season.

Hiking Bridgers sm

Or, if you need a break from the outdoors all together, the Museum of the Rockies is an incredible museum here in Bozeman with dinosaur exhibits, history, a planetarium, as well as a living history exhibit. There is also the Computer Museum, and Gallatin History Museum, along with shops, and restaurants.

We are always here to help you make the most of your Montana adventure. Feel free to call, email or stop by the front desk for tips, suggestions, or ideas. We look forward to serving you!

-PJ Wirchansky, Lodge Manager