Bozeman and the surrounding area is a sight to behold any time of year, but most would agree that it’s best dressed in winter. White, fluffy snow covers the mountains and much of the city, footprints of wildlife appear more clearly, and waterfalls turn to translucent columns of ice. If at all possible, Bozeman becomes more majestic, more dramatic during the cold season.
To see Bozeman at its winter peak, visit one of these spots for the best winter views in and around Bozeman.
Hyalite is a hub for outdoor recreation all year-round, but in winter it takes on new life. At 6,700 feet elevation, the snow is plentiful and the massive reservoir freezes much of the way in, creating an ideal spot for ice anglers to drill and lay down a line for Yellowstone cutthroat, arctic grayling, and brook trout. Craggy mountains rise on all sides, with a sifting of snow covering them.
Fortunately, the road through Hyalite Canyon up to the reservoir is plowed during the winter, making it easy to access the large parking lot at the top. A variety of winter activities start here, from ice climbing (see our next recommendation, below) to nordic skiing and snowshoeing, to backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Regardless of how you enjoy this area, you’re sure to have one of the best views near Bozeman.
Located in the Hyalite Recreation Area, south of the reservoir along Hyalite Creek, Palisade Falls is an 80-foot waterfall descending from a vertical rock wall. Also a popular destination in summer, the waterfall turns into an ice climber’s frozen dream in the winter. The normally rushing water stands still, and it’s an incredible sight to see. It’s also a great place to witness world-class ice climbing, which draws people from all over the world to Bozeman each year.
The road to the Palisade Falls Trailhead is closed during the winter so you’ll need to park at the gate past Hyalite Reservoir and hike the two miles to get to the Palisade Falls trailhead. Head past the reservoir, but stay left when the road splits. You will find a parking lot near the gate to leave your vehicle. The hike is mellow without much elevation gain. Snowshoes are recommended to keep stable footing, but the road and the trail up to Palisade Falls should be packed down.
Cherry River Fishing Access
For a winter view of the Bridger Range that’s right in town, look no further than the Cherry River Fishing Access, located just off Frontage Road on the north end of Bozeman. The parking lot connects you to trails that circle the nearby ponds and take you to the banks of the East Gallatin River, perfect for a winter stroll. You don’t have to drive far or embark on a strenuous hike to find these uninterrupted views of Bozeman’s hometown mountain range.
Paradise Valley offers easily one of the most iconic views in the state of Montana. To get there, you’ll head east from Bozeman toward Livingston before turning south to drive along the Yellowstone River. The entire stretch of road between Livingston and Gardiner further south is magnificent – perfect for a scenic winter drive (with the right vehicle and conditions, of course). The valley is filled with snow, walled on either side by astounding mountain ranges. In the cold temperatures, steam rises out of the Yellowstone River and elk and bighorn sheep are often spotted roaming in herds.
For a viewpoint to stop and stretch your legs, the fishing access site at Mallard’s Rest places you right at the Yellowstone River, facing the stunning Absaroka Range.
Top of the Bridger Lift at Bridger Bowl
Above 8,000 feet at the top of the Bridger Lift, there’s perhaps no better view of the Bozeman area on a clear day. That said, this impressive view comes with far more prerequisites than the others on this list. One of the highest lifts at the Bridger Bowl resort, landing at the apex of the Bridger Lift requires you to traverse down black diamond routes, so make sure you have the proper experience before seeking this one out. If you’ve got the skills to descend these trails, consider yourself deserving of the sweet sights you’ll encounter on the way down.
If you enjoyed this blog, take a look at some of our other related articles:
- Ranking the 14 Best Hot Springs in Montana
- Top 10 Things To Do in Yellowstone
- Bozeman Breweries: Enjoying The Best Beer Around Town
- 3 Scenic Hikes in Yellowstone
- 4 Spots to Go Fly Fishing in Bozeman
- 5 Things to do in Hyalite Recreation Area For Every Activity Level