Gallatin River Lodge Blog

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

Top 10 Summer Activities in Montana

Our recent blog on wildlife watching was just one of the many activities that folks come to Montana to enjoy, but yes, there is so much more! Many guests enjoy exploring our nearby rivers and their incredible blue ribbon trout fishing opportunities, but we agree that there are many other activities we recommend to explore all that Montana has to offer.

As the snow begins to melt off of the mountains, and all of the hillsides become lush and green, we know it is the warm season in Montana. The difficult part is deciding what to do, as there are so many options for enjoying Yellowstone Country. Here are our top 10 favorite summer activities, in no particular order:

Considering there are 1.8 million acres in the Gallatin National Forest, and another 2.2 million acres in Yellowstone, hiking this area offers literally endless options. There are many, many trails in and around the Bozeman area. A few of our favorites include Grotto Falls up Hyalite Canyon (beautiful waterfall), Storm Castle (incredible views), and Sacajawea Peak (quite steep, and views of 10 mountain ranges). Be sure to pick up some trail maps of the area at a local outfitter, as it will give you a good idea of topography, and locations. Also, remember lots of water, snacks, your phone or a camera, and bear spray.

hiking trails bozeman

Mountain Biking
Similar to the advantages of hiking in this area, the rugged mountains of Montana and seemingly endless trail system allow for some world class mountain biking right here in our back yard. There are many trails in and around Bozeman, as well as in the surrounding mountain ranges. South of Bozeman, about an hour, is Big Sky Resort, which utilizes their winter alpine ski trails as mountain biking trails in the summer, complete with a lift to get you up as high as you would like to go. Same tips: lots of water, and maybe your GoPro!

We have a half dozen beautiful courses right here in Bozeman and Big Sky, including access to Black Bull, Bozeman’s finest private golf club. Spend the day working on your game, while enjoying the beautiful views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Be sure to let us know ahead of time if you would like to play at Black Bull, so we can take care of the details for you. We can also make arrangements at a few other private clubs nearby.
BB Golf

Whitewater Rafting
Only 25 miles south of the Lodge, along a narrow stretch of the Gallatin River is some of the best white water rafting around! There are half and full day trips for those wanting either an exciting or more leisurely excursion, while enjoying the beautiful landscape, or watching for animals. There are also opportunities to zip-line across the Gallatin River. Take a swing through the trees and over the river in the morning and then raft through spectacular rapids in the afternoon. TIP: For those looking for the most adventurous trips, be sure to book early in the season when water levels are high (typically during runoff, late May and early June).

Fly Fishing
Fly fishermen and women travel from around the world to Southwest Montana for its exceptional fishing opportunities. Many guests enjoy both floating drift boasts and walk and wade trips. We have been guiding guests on Area Rivers for over 35 years fishing the Gallatin, Madison, Yellowstone, Jefferson, and Missouri, as well as many private spring creeks, and lakes. We fish over 70 miles of each of these rivers, and they are all within an hour of the Lodge. There is also a private stocked trout pond on-site at the Lodge. Our guides have worked for us many years and provide instruction, tackle, flies and transportation. We can also process your fishing license application or provide a link for you to do so at home!

IMG 3761

Horseback Riding
Viewing the landscape from the back of a horse is the only way to enjoy mother nature, according to some folks! Similar to hiking and mountain biking, the horseback riding trail system in Southwest Montana, whether it is in the National Forest, or in Yellowstone National Park, is massive, and stunning. If you are looking for a true cowboy or cowgirl experience, you have to try horseback riding in Montana. There are half and full day rides available through several outfitters in the area. If you have an adventurous desire to spend the night under the stars, we can also help you arrange an overnight horse pack trip with a local outfitter.

horseback riding ranch

Day Trips to Ghost Towns, State Parks, or Hot Springs
It is really hard to list just 10 activities, so we have lumped a few “must do’s” into Day Trips. First, Montana is well known for its natural thermals, and fortunately, we are located near several hot springs that are open to the public. Bozeman Hot Springs is located only 10 minutes from the Lodge and has an exercise facility, or just 30 minutes west is Norris Hot Springs. Chico Hot Springs is nearby in Paradise Valley and the Boiling River, just inside Yellowstone National Park (North Entrance near Gardiner) is a wild natural soaking experience. Check out Virginia City and Nevada City which were bustling with gold miners in the 1860’s. There is gold panning, historic sites, ghost talks, entertainment (The Brewery Follies!) and more. There are close to 50 state parks in Montana, several of which are within an hour or so from the Lodge. Many have minimal fees, and offer an “off the beaten path” activity with less crowds, and plenty of beautiful scenery.

Outdoor Festivals and Rodeos
Red Ants Pants Festival. Yes, that’s a real one. It has become one of the highlights of a Montana Summer. It started in 2011, and is now a 3 day musical festival just outside the town of White Sulphur Springs. There is also the Sweet Pea Festival in Bozeman that takes place the first weekend in August. The Folk Festival is in Butte, just a little over an hour from the Lodge. There is plenty of music, and great food.  It is also FREE! If your dates do not work out for one of the festivals, there are numerous rodeos throughout Montana during the summer. Bozeman, Ennis, West Yellowstone, and Livingston are just some of the nearby towns that host a rodeo(s) throughout the summer months. July 4 is a very popular time for rodeos!


Restaurants, Shopping, and Museums
If you are going to be in Montana for an extended period of time, it is nice to take a day and enjoy something a little more relaxed. Bozeman’s downtown area is home to several blocks of independently owned shops, and restaurants. Montana offers an eclectic food scene with many offering locally sourced ingredients, including our very own Gallatin River Grill, with our on-site garden. Bozeman is also home to the Museum of the Rockies, which has one of the largest dinosaur collections, many of which were found right here in Montana. There is also the Pioneer Museum, which is the old Bozeman jailhouse, and is a historical museum for the area. One more that you may not have heard of is the American Computer and Robotics Museum. The Museum has been recognized by publications all over the world, and is free to everyone.

Yellowstone National Park
As we said, this list is in no particular order. Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first National Park, established in 1872, and is home to over 350 species of animals. It is absolutely a “must do.” There are over 70% of the world’s thermal features in Yellowstone. Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation lake in North America (above 7000 feet). Yellowstone is home to grizzly and black bears, wolves, elk, bison, bald eagles, antelope, badgers, wolverines, and a number of other animals. From the Lodge, the North Entrance (east and south of us) is only an hour and 40 minutes away. The West Entrance is just a little further at an hour and 50 minutes away (due south). There are private tours of Yellowstone National Park available, with several companies that will pick you up at the Lodge. Feel free to talk to us at the front desk, as we are more than happy to provide our favorite spots too!

Yellowstone Grand Prismatic sm

These are our top 10 activities if we were planning a trip to the area. There is also kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, hot air balloon rides, paddle boarding, ATV rides, swimming, hunting, and farm tours to name a few more. Montana is the 4th largest state in the US, and there is plenty to see and do. We welcome our guests to stay with us at our small, intimate lodge away from town. There are beautiful sunsets, wildlife watching, beautiful rooms and suites, and an incredible restaurant on-site. Feel free to call us to help you plan out your Montana vacation. We hope to see you this summer!

GRL awarded 2017

Top 25 Small Hotels in the USA

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