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

Fall and the Changing of the Seasons

Although summer is typically the most popular time for visitors to come to Montana, fall is secretly our favorite time of the year for many Montanans. It is full of peaceful outdoor exploration, as well as winter preparation. October and November are two of the driest months of the year, and with average temperatures during the day in the 40’s & 50’s, it is still a fantastic time to get outside, and enjoy the many outdoor recreational opportunities. Of course, fishing and hunting are two of the most popular pastimes, but there is also hiking, horseback riding, trips into Yellowstone, wildlife watching, among others.

November sunrise

This is also a time to prepare for the exciting winter season ahead, with many of us getting out our skis, boots, snowshoes, sleds, and anything else that allows us to enjoy the fluffy white powder that Mother Nature typically blesses us with from November-March.

The mountains around the Lodge see anywhere from 250-400” of snow each year, making it one of the most reliable areas for snow sports. We are fortunate to have two world-class ski areas within an hour of the Lodge, with Bridger Bowl (35 minutes away) and Big Sky Resort (an hour) both accessible for downhill skiing. If alpine skiing is not your thing, we highly recommend Nordic skiing, as it is a fantastic way to get out on the snow, explore the trails, see wildlife, and get an incredible workout.

Winter Dogsledding

Around Bozeman, there are some great areas for ice climbing, and snowshoeing. If you head down towards Big Sky, and West Yellowstone, you are sure to see plenty of snow as well, along with some great opportunities for snowmobiling, dog sledding, and sleigh rides.

Located just 15 minutes from Bozeman, for those who enjoy more in-town offerings, there is plenty of entertainment, shopping, great local food (especially at the Gallatin River Grill!), museums, art galleries, special events, year round farmer’s market, and live music.

While we continue to enjoy this fall season, and dream often of our upcoming winter adventures, we would love for you to come stay with us, dine at our Grill, and choose however you want to immerse yourself in this stunning area.

To help you get ready for Winter, check out Whitney’s blog for more helpful tips.
We hope to see you soon!

-PJ Wirchansky, Lodge Manager

GRL awarded 2017

Top 25 Small Hotels in the USA

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