Getting Plugged in to Bozeman

One Newcomer’s Quest to Call Bozeman Home

Sarah May

After making the three-day cross-country move, I stared wide-eyed at the Bridger Mountain range eager to make Bozeman feel like home. Moving from Georgia to Montana meant over 3,000 feet in elevation gain, limiting my ability to see breathtaking views waiting at the top of Baldy. For now, my hikes are restricted to the “M” trail and wandering around Hyalite Canyon while I adjust. With my legs and lungs adjusting to new elevations and allergens, I began to look elsewhere to get plugged into my new city and make new friends.

First on my list was the Bozeman Public Library. With proof of residency, I was handed my new library card giving me a key to the city. Our local library offers more than free books and movies. Through my library card, I have access to a variety of Bozeman activities and resources. I quickly discovered a plethora of free events of various interest from book clubs to themed art classes. With a Bozeman library card, I can obtain passes to the local museums and attend free yoga on Tuesdays. The magic of attending a free library event is learning about future events going on around town, which can’t be found with an online search. While attending a Tuesday yoga class, I learned about Wild Hearts Montana, a women’s group focused on an evening filled with running, yoga, and writing. Being new in town means saying “yes” to events where I can meet new people and explore my new city. It was here at Wild Hearts I met a group of women I’m quickly calling friends who are a mix of old and new Bozeman residents. I never would have known about such a fun local event had I not shown up for yoga at the library.

Yoga is a great way to unwind and bring some calm to my week, but some days I want to have more high energy, and Bozeman has no shortage of energetic activities. While my new town lacks a large concert venue, it’s full of small stages tucked away in bars and mountainsides amongst tall forest trees. A quick stop at any coffee shop or library bulletin board reveals a treasure trove of music venues with various musical styles. I quickly learned of a local favorite band, Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs playing at Pine Creek Lodge just outside of town. A short car ride later and I was listening to the bluegrass group under the stars. Pine Creek Lodge is a perfect spot for a night filled with dancing between the trees with new friends. With everything from small brewery stages to a symphony hall, there’s a music venue for everyone in Bozeman. I’ve only just begun to explore our music venues and can’t wait to find a favorite.

With the summer sun shining well into the nine o’clock hour, hitting the rivers and lakes after work is a Montana summer perk. From casual river floating in tubes to whitewater rafting down the Madison River, our Montana waterways have a great deal of adventure to offer. My personal favorite is to snag a kayak at one of our local rental shops and hit Hyalite Canyon where I can spend the late afternoon hiking the trails and kayaking a few laps around the lake. I strongly recommend packing a picnic-style dinner and enjoying dinner with a view to soak up all our Montana summer sun has to offer.

For those of us who are adjusting to the elevation and need to build up some Montana endurance, there are a few easy access points around town. Peet’s Hill starting behind the Library is a great spot for a quick walk or run with a spectacular view of Bozeman. The recently completed Main Street to Mountains trail is a perfect route for building up your endurance, whether it’s a quick walk or testing out a new bike. Lava Lake, Horse Mountain Traverse, and Ousel falls are all great trails for acclimating to the Bozeman area. Trails for all ability levels are never more than a short drive from Main Street. I recommend hitting a local book store and picking up a trail guide book to find a perfect trail. 

If you’re new in town, you’re probably like me in wanting to find a few great spots and activities to participate in. Using an online search engine only leads to popular tourist spots and top ten list featuring every other storefront on Main. I quickly learned if I wanted to be a local, I needed to explore what was right in front of me and not the internet. One of the first things I did when relocating was to follow #bozeman on Instagram. As juvenile as that sounds, it’s provided a great resource to find events and places to explore.

Using this local hashtag search, I discovered the long-standing Country Bookshelf store where guest authors give talks regularly. I’ve discovered local seasonal events and added them to my planner, as not to miss a chance to explore my new city and meet new people. Instagram has helped me find local hiking spots knowing if I see a picture of kid hiking a mountain, I can probably hike it too. If you’re a low-tech person and not sure on how to follow a hashtag online, there are still many low-tech resources around town. While I was busy getting my card at the library, I noticed a bin full of local print media in the lobby, including Bozeman Magazine. I picked up various catalogs and newspapers and began to peruse the pages giving me an insight into the history of my new town and calendars full of local events. I’ve noticed these magazines and papers in most local establishments and I’m quick to grab one if I haven’t already flipped through its pages. I’d encourage any person new to town to grab a catalog or two and pick a few events to attend. 

Bozeman has more to offer its residents than spectacular views and great hiking. There’s a bit of everything tucked into the corners of this town, ready to greet us with open arms. Activities range from meeting local business owners at the farmers’ markets to chatting with the Bozeman creatives on Friday night Art Walks on Main Street. Shopping garage sales has helped me find some much-needed outdoor gear at a great price and given me a chance to meet my neighbors. I have only been here a month, but I have yet to experience a day where I felt bored or without friends.  If you’re a newbie such as I am, I strongly recommend heading to the library to pick up a library card and a few magazines.  

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