Top 10 Daytrips from Bozeman for May

Heather Hume


1 Natural Bridge Falls in McLeod
Have a picnic lunch by majestic falls. Check out Big Timber‘s main street and the historic Grand Hotel (there’s also a great city park here with a replica of a Viking ship for the kids to climb on, an old-fashioned merry-go-round, and slides and swings galore). 87 miles via I-90 and Hwy 298.

2 Big Sky
Off-season is quiet (and, perhaps, a little muddy) but the scenery is beautiful and Lone Peak will have plenty of snow and tower above as you stroll around the village in Big Sky and enjoy lunch at a restaurant in the Meadow or on the Hill. Plenty of fly fishing spots on the Gallatin River nearby beckon enthusiastic anglers. 44 miles via US Hwy 191.

3 Butte
Butte is Montana’s most colorful city and has enthralled visitors for decades. It’s Evel Knievel’s hometown and notably features the acclaimed World Mining Museum and the infamous Dumas Brothel. Our Lady of the Rockies towers above the “Richest Hill on Earth” and is worth a separate tour. One can comb through dozens of antique or vintage/thrift shops in “Uptown Butte” for hours. If you need a caffeine boost, head over to Jail Time Coffee. (So good it ought to be a crime!) 87 mi. via I-90.

4 Chico Hot Springs-Pray
Touted as “Montana’s backyard” and rightfully so, Chico is great for the day tripper who can take a dip in two different pools (hot springs), grab a tasty bite at the Grille, explore the Lodge and its gorgeous surroundings, get current on Chico’s fascinating history or kick back on a rocking chair on the porch and soak up the unique vibe that is distinctly Chico. 50 miles via I-90 and US Hwy 89.

5 Hyalite Reservoir and Hyalite Creek Trail
Stunning sights abound on a hiking trail close to Bozeman with several cascading waterfalls. Picnic by the 206 acre reservoir; canoe, or SUP, if weather permits. Close to town, yet with the gorgeous Gallatin National Forest and the riveting reservoir, Hyalite defines rugged beauty out of a storybook. 12 miles via S. 19th Avenue and Hyalite Canyon Road.

6 Canyon Ferry/Townsend
Canyon Ferry Lake is one of my all-time favorite places in the state. (Flathead Lake is another extraordinary body of water to behold but it’s too far away to make the poll!). Stop at Wheat Montana and pick up lunch en route to Townsend--a friendly small town with a nice bakery on the main drag into town. Bird-watch, fish, picnic, read by the water, or just listen to the waves lap against the rocky shore. Via I-90 and Hwy 287. 73 miles.

7 Ennis/Virginia City
Ennis is a lively cowboy-fishing town (similar to Livingston—“over the hill” to the east) with a neat main street. Check out its cute shops and great eateries. With several lakes nearby and world-class fishing streams, Ennis makes for a relaxing, fun day trip. Virginia City nearby also garners many folks visiting Yellowstone looking for a ghost town/old Western vibe. V.C. can boast about the renowned and raucous Vigilante Players shows in summer..worth a visit!). 55/65 miles, respectively, from Bozeman via Hwy 191, Hwy 84 and Hwy 287.

8 Lewis and Clark Caverns-Three Forks
Montana’s first and best known state park. Incredible caverns provide perfect housing for its part-time residents....yes, bats! The picturesque town of Three Forks is worth venturing into for a meal or beverage. In particular, stop at the Sacajawea Inn. Fine dining and exceptional ambience. (with, yep, more rocking chairs to relax and reflect about your adventures around southwest Montana). 45 miles west of Bozeman via I-90.

9 Gardiner
Dramatically situated on cliffs overlooking the Yellowstone River, Gardiner is appealing for its interesting combination of Yellowstone National Park history (it’s the northern entrance to “the Park”) and modern resort accommodations. Nice locals and an energetic vibe add to the Gardiner mystique (small Western town but with visitors from all over the world on any given corner). 78 miles from Bozeman via I-90 and Hwy 89, at the southern end of the aptly named Paradise Valley.

10 White Sulphur Springs
Many people now make an annual pilgrimage to WSS (and camp out) in late July--thanks to the superb musical acts performing at the Red Ants Pants music festival right outside town. In May, however, it’s not as hot, nor windy, and makes the saying “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey” fitting as it’s one of the most spectacular drives in the state. But, the destination is plenty rewarding as well. Rejuvenating hot springs will soothe travelers at the Spa Hot Springs Motel on Main Street and make for a peaceful return drive to Bozeman 79 mi. Hwy 86 and Hwy. 89.


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