Gallatin River Lodge Blog

Top 5 Reasons Why Winter is the Best Time to Visit Montana

5. No crowds
If you have ever visited Southwest Montana during July and August, you may be surprised by how busy it can be. While there is still plenty of room to spread out, the highways, especially in and around Yellowstone are busy with visitors from all over the world. Once you get into the Park, it can feel a little crowded, especially when animals are along the roadways, or everyone wants to see Old Faithful at the same time.

During the winter, Yellowstone experiences 1/20th (yes, that’s right) of the summer visitation. While close to 4 million visitors come to the Park over the summer season, less than 200,000 visit the Park over the winter months. This means plenty of opportunities to see Yellowstone without many people around. If you have the chance, you should go to Old Faithful late afternoon, as you may not see anyone else! As far as the rest of the area, winter is also a great time to stay in and around Bozeman. For the state of Montana, occupancy levels run 40-50% on average, versus 90-100% in the summer.

Winter Top 5 img sm

4. More affordable
With the occupancy levels much lower, most hotels, B&B’s, and other accommodations lower their rates to help attract more guests, so it can be a great time to find a deal. We know one amazing place that offers luxury accommodations with a fireplace, and Jacuzzi, along with dinner for two, and breakfast for two, starting at $275/ night (spoiler alert: it’s us!!). Like most places, as demand goes down, so do rates. Rentals cars, lodging, and airline tickets can all be more affordable during the winter months, plus no crowds.

3. Recreation is just as good, maybe better
We know that there is a good reason that the Gallatin River near the Lodge does not freeze in the winter-more time to fish! While the weather can be a bit unpredictable, there are many sunny days here in Montana during the winter, and the fishing can be amazing. For the mountains surrounding town, they can receive 350-400” of snow! This means great opportunities for both downhill and cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, snowboarding, dog sledding, fly fishing and ice fishing, backcountry skiing, ice climbing, skijoring, and more. If there is a way to enjoy the winter, locals around here have found a way to do it.

Dog Sledding sm

2. Great time to learn more about the culture and communities
With shorter days, and longer nights, the Bozeman community has many evening classes, events, live music, and other gatherings during the winter. There are several Holiday festivals in Bozeman throughout the month of December. Bozeman also hosts a winter farmer’s market during the winter months. There are two theaters in town, each offering movies, live shows, dance classes, and plays. If you are into continuing education, or learning a craft, there are several classes at the Wilson, including glass blowing, pottery, theater and more. With Bozeman having such an eclectic community, we encourage guests to check out all of the incredible offerings.

1. Winter is magical!
While you enjoy a quieter, more peaceful experience (at a lower cost than summer), and take in all of the activities that this area has to offer, you get to enjoy it all under the beautiful Big Sky. It is really a magical place. It is basically like living in a winter postcard or snow globe. Everywhere you look, it feels like a winter wonderland.

Winter Bridgers sm

So, if you are even considering a trip to Montana, we highly encourage you to think about winter. Less people, lower cost, plenty of activities and adventures, a great local community to enjoy, and the magical environment that only Montana can provide. If you need help planning your trip, or just what to pack, we are here to help!
-PJ Wirchansky, Lodge Manager

Get Ready for Winter 2016-17

Although it may not seem like it, with our recent mild, sunny weather, winter is just around the corner! Whether you are an adrenaline junkie who only skis black diamond runs, or a classic Nordic skier who enjoys listening to the sounds of nature, we have everything you are looking for right here to prepare you for winter fun, including, opening dates, activity suggestions, and the Farmer’s Almanac predictions for local Montana weather.

BS Resort
Tentative opening dates (subject to snowfall):
Big Sky Resort, November 24, 2016
Bridger Bowl, December 9, 2016
Red Lodge Mountain: November 25, 2016
Whitefish Mountain, December 7, 2016

Cross Country/ Nordic
Bohart Ranch, December 7, 2016

Rendezvous Trails, November 22, 2016
Lone Mountain Ranch, December 9, 2016

LoneMtn Ski

Can't wait to start out the new ski season with a fresh pair of skis? Then, checkout Bridger Ski Foundation's Annual Ski Swap, happening the first weekend of November. Drop off for items you wish to sell is Friday, November 4 from 10am-7pm at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds. The Ski Swap begins Saturday, November 5 at 10am-6pm, and continues Sunday, November 6, 10am-2pm. It's a great way to get a new pair of skis, boots, poles, and a way to get rid of your old ones for cash.

Do you prefer to walk/ snowshoe in the winter? We have some great trail recommendations for you. Whether you enjoy snowshoeing on a regular basis or just when the weather warms up a bit, these 9 trails will be sure to impress!

-Sourdough Nature Trail
-Triple Tree Trail
-Galligator Trail
-Pete's Hill
-Bozeman Pond
-Cherry River Loop
-Sourdough Canyon Trail
-East Gallatin Recreational Area
-Gallatin County Regional Park (sledding too!)

Snowshoe Img

For complete directions, and trail descriptions, click here:

As everyone knows, these winter wonderland activities are completely dependent on Mother Nature, including snowfall and temperatures. Weather in Montana can change without notice. If you don't like the weather, just wait 10 minutes, and it just may change! Are we destined for an average winter, or a snow-filled doozy of a season? According to the 2017 Farmer's Almanac, we are in for an average start with a colder and snowy season beginning mid-season. So, enjoy this mild stretch of weather for now, as winter is just around the corner. 

YNP Bison

We have all kinds of winter activities around Gallatin River Lodge to satisfy every type of winter enthusiast, including those who want to sit fire-side, or enjoy an in-room massage while the snow falls. Check out our luxurious lodging options, including our Winter Romance Package to enjoy an unforgettable getaway with that special someone in your life!

For those planning a trip to Montana, let us know how we can help you take advantage of all that this beautiful area has to offer. We look forward to welcoming you to our Montana home! 
-Whitney, Sales and Reservations
(Photos compliments of the amazing Montana Office of Tourism)

GRL awarded 2017

Top 25 Small Hotels in the USA

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