Spring in Bozeman is a wild mix of warm, sunny days, followed by random snowstorms. It happens every year, and yet every year, everyone forgets that this is normal. Some call it the false spring; others call it mud season. One thing is sure; you'll find people out and about ready to soak up the sun and start adventuring. While the weather can be fickle, it's generally comfortable, and a little spring snow typically doesn't stick around.
Spring is a lovely time to visit. The summer tourist season hasn't yet begun, and you can get great deals on flights and hotels. If you're still unsure, we've compiled a list of our top 10 favorite things to do in Bozeman in the spring.
1. Fly Fishing Before the runoff
Once the ice has melted off the rivers, it's a sweet time for fishing before the runoff hits. The fish are hungry after the long winter and haven't seen a fly in months. If you can time it just right, you could get in on some great action.
2. Hunt for morel mushrooms
We wish we could tell you where to look, but that would be uncouth to our fellow mushroom hunters. We can say to look around the edges of wooded areas or at the base of dead or dying trees. Mushrooms like sites that have been recently disturbed (hint: the Bridger Range had a big wildfire last year).
While spring mountain biking is discouraged (it tears up the trails), there are plenty of great roads to bike while you wait for the trails to dry out. Yellowstone National Park opens up to biking once the snow melts, usually the first two weeks of April. Hyalite Canyon closes to vehicles in the spring, and you can bike to the reservoir without any cars on the road! Copper City Trails, near Three Forks, are generally much drier than the trails around Bozeman.
4. Hot springs tour
Spring is a lovely time to explore the area's hot springs. It's not too hot, not too cold, and always relaxing. Bozeman Hot Springs, in Four Corners, is just a few miles out of town, but you can also explore Norris Hot Springs, which is about a half an hour away, or, if you head east to Paradise Valley, Chico Hot Springs and Yellowstone Hot Springs are only about an hour's drive away.
5. Visit Yellowstone National Park
When Yellowstone National Park reopens to vehicles in the spring, generally the second Friday in April, it's a great time to visit. There is very little traffic this time of year, and all the babies are born! Bison calves (aka "red dogs") bear cubs, deer fawns, elk calves, and wolf pups. The spring wildflowers are also gorgeous, but you might have to hike around a bit to find them.
6. Enjoy outdoor dining
Relax on one of Bozeman's great decks, and enjoy your favorite beverage or a late lunch. Shine Beer Sanctuary and Bottle Shop, The Bacchus Pub, Ted's Montana Grill, Spectators, The Bay, and Midtown Tavern have great patios. Watch for the Crystal Rooftop Bar opening; that's when you know the good weather is here to stay!
7. Birdwatching at Story Mill Community Park
This 60-acre park is Bozeman's largest. It includes a 40-acre nature sanctuary with 15 acres of wetlands for birds and other wildlife. The trail system runs throughout the park, and they even have a birdwatching station where you can observe a variety of different birds. Watch for the large sandhill cranes, which have been spotted in the wetlands!
8. Whitewater rafting
Beginning in May, when the runoff starts, rafting season kicks off. For the adrenaline-seekers out there, this is the best time of year because the water is high and fast.
9. Canoe the Madison River
If you prefer your boat trip to be a bit less raucous, try canoeing on the Madison. You can put in at Warm Springs and leave a car for a shuttle at Black's Ford. This time of year, you'll encounter dedicated anglers, but come summer, this is a popular float, so take advantage of the quiet reprieve!
10. Antique or thrift store shopping
Spring is an ideal time to hit one of the many antique or thrift shops in the area. The annual spring clean usually causes these stores to be inundated with inventory. As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure!