Welcome to your guide to outdoor adventure in Bozeman! This page is meant to help the MSU community with trip planning and to inspire a sense of exploration of our local area.  Don't forget to stop in to the Outdoor Recreation Program Rental Shop to get geared up for your trip. Looking to learn a new skill or just get outside and meet other like-minded students? Join our Outdoor Recreation Program staff on one of our off-campus trips or an on-campus clinic.

Woohoo! We all love spending some time outside. Whether that be close to your dorm or deep into the Montana Wilderness. Gentle jaunts or steep ascents. Here are some resources for whatever way you like to recreate in the woods or plains nearby! 

Drinking Horse  - This is a hike that is just over two miles, close to town and not very steep. Perfect for trying to get out during a busy day.  

Triple Tree - This hike has a beautiful view of Bozeman at the top. It is about 5.5 miles round trip and close to town. There is construction currently on the road getting there so make sure to check to see if you can park in the parking lot.  

Mt. Ellis - This one is steep, long, and gorgeous. It lives up Bear Canyon, about 45 minutes from town and is a 10 mile out and back style hike. 

Storm Castle Peak This hike is a slightly challenging out and back hike that is just over 5 miles long. It is about 40 minutes outside of Bozeman down into the Gallatin Canyon. Perfect for a half day hike! 

Sypes Canyon This is a challenging hike located about 15 minutes from Bozeman. It is an out and back hike that is just over 9 miles. Perfect for a longer hike! While this is a popular area for hiking, there are also great cross-country ski and horseback trails in this area! 

Sacagawea Peak  This is a great, yet challenging hike located about an hour away from Bozeman near Fairy Lake in Bridger Canyon. It is about a four and a half mile out and back trail. Be sure to check for road closures before going.  

Palisade Falls This hike is an out and back trail that is just over a mile long. Located just beyond Hyalite Reservoir, this is a perfect place for a quick hike to a waterfall! 

Baldy Peak This is an out and back trail that is just under 10 miles long. Located above the M trail, it is very close to Bozeman. This is a longer, more challenging hike but has great views of Bozeman! 

Hyalite Creek to Hyalite Lake This is a great and challenging hike located about 40 minutes from Bozeman. It is about an 11 mile out and back hike. This is a great area for hiking, camping, and backpacking! 

Sourdough Creek Trail This is an easy hike that is around two and a half miles long. Located around 10 minutes south of Bozeman, this is a great trail for a quick hike! 

Gallagator Trail This is a great hike located right behind Bozeman Public Library. It is an easy hike that is just over three miles. It is a great trail for both hiking and biking and doesn’t take long to complete.  

With an abundance of rivers, lakes, and streams close to town, fly fishing opportunities are easily accessible and endless in southwestern Montana. Below are some of the Outdoor Recreation Program’s tips and helpful resources for successful fly fishing in southwestern Montana. Our rentals include a fly rod, reel and line; however, you will need to buy leader, tippet and flies. 

Required Gear:

  • State of Montana Fishing License and Conservation License
    • Can be purchased on the Montana FWP website, or any area fly shop
    • Be sure to check different license time options, as well as options depending on your residency status
  • Fly rod, reel, and line
    • 9’ 5wt or 9’ 6wt will cover a variety of fishing scenarios
    • A 5wt or 6wt will suffice for many different rivers and rigs in the area, when paired with an appropriately sized reel and a floating fly line.
  • Leaders and tippet
    • This extra line, either monofilament or fluorocarbon, will be attached at the end of the fly line, to attach a variety of flies.
    • 7.5’- 9’ leaders, 1x-5x
    • 1x - 5x tippet, monofilament, or fluorocarbon
  • Flies and Seasonality
    • Successful flies in southwestern Montana vary greatly depending on the season, with changing tactics and options depending on the weather and river conditions. Below are some basic suggestions and overviews for the fishing seasons around Bozeman.
    • Spring- As the snow begins to fade, and ski lifts stop spinning, spring around Bozeman means breaking out the rods and hitting the river. Expect success when nymphing, especially when targeting slower pocket water, streamer fishing before runoff hits, and sporadic dry fly fishing on warmer spring days.
    • Summer- With warmer weather and gorgeous summer days, fishing is in full force in southwest Montana. Enjoy success fishing many different hatches as the weather heats up, expect to see hatches of caddis, mayflies, midges, terrestrials, and stoneflies. Expect dry flies to fish well beginning in April and continuing through August. When fish aren’t committing to your big dry fly floating down river, nymph rigs and bigger streamers can turn the day around.
    • Fall- Big fish season around Bozeman! As big brown trout prepare to spawn later in the fall, many fish start to focus on bigger food options, providing great opportunities to fish larger streamers, imitating sculpins, crayfish, and baitfish. Be sure to check with fly shops and stay up to date on fishing reports, as once these fish begin to spawn, we want to give them rest and not overstress spawning browns. Fall also presents opportunities for late season hatches, focusing on waning terrestrials and mayflies.
    • Winter- For those willing to don gloves, jackets, and waders, winter seasons can offer great fishing with limited angling pressure. Winter around Bozeman often means fishing nymph rigs, downsized streamer patterns, and midge hatches when the cold lifts.


Local Fishing Options:

  • With a wide variety of waterways surrounding Bozeman, choosing an area to fish can often be overwhelming. Below are some of the favorite rivers to fish around Bozeman, and suggestions for fishing.
    • Madison River- The Madison River begins all the way in Yellowstone National Park and flows over 180 miles until its confluence with the Jefferson and Gallatin Rivers. With several different sections, above the lakes, between the lakes, the Upper Madison, and the lower Madison, there is an abundance of different spots, water types, and fish species to target. The Madison is a favorite among locals, tourists, and guides alike, with great fishing year-round. Drive time between 2 hours and 30 minutes for fishing access.
    • Gallatin River- Originating in Yellowstone National Park, and flowing through Big Sky, Bozeman, and Manhattan, the Gallatin finally ends at Headwaters Park at the confluence with the Madison and the Jefferson Rivers. Above Big Sky, the Gallatin is a smaller waterway option, great for the solitary walk wade angler. From Big Sky all the way to Manhattan, the Gallatin has numerous access sites, long stretches to walk and wade, and several boat ramps. Please be aware that in Yellowstone, there is a special permit to purchase to fish the Gallatin, and that fishing from a boat is not allowed above the Nixon Bridge fishing access in Manhattan. Drive time can range from 1.5 hours to 20 minutes for fishing access.
    • Yellowstone River- Most anglers around Bozeman fish the Yellowstone River from its beginnings in Yellowstone National Park to below Big Timber. In this stretch, the Stone has over 200 miles of excellent water to target big trout. As one of the larger rivers in the area, be aware there are limited options for wade fishing apart from in Yellowstone, and near Livingston, with most successful fishing being from a boat. Make sure to stay aware of seasons and changing river conditions, as some sections may be hazardous at certain flows. Drive time ranges from 30 minutes to over an hour depending on the preferred fishing access location.
    • Missouri River- Beginning in Three Forks, the Missouri flows through two lakes, as well as the famous lower stretch, beginning below Holter Dam. The Missouri offers some of the most diverse fishing opportunities in southwest Montana, with brown trout, rainbow trout, and even populations of large carp. Great fishing exists in all the river sections, as well as in Canyon Ferry Lake and Hauser Lake, with most anglers and guides targeting the lower stretch of the Missouri below Holter Dam. There are options for wade anglers to fish the Missouri, however much of the productive techniques occur from a boat. Drive time ranges from 30 minutes to over 2 hours for fishing opportunities.
    • Jefferson River- Beginning in Twin Bridges with the confluence of the Beaverhead and BigHole Rivers, the Jefferson flows through some of southwest Montana’s best scenery, ending at Headwaters State Park meeting up with the Gallatin and Madison Rivers. With diverse water conditions and a unique habitat, the Jefferson can be very good at different times through the season, typically fishing well before runoff and again in the fall. With 3 main river sections to target, there is a lot of low-pressure water to fish, with typically limited amounts of other anglers. Due to the large nature of the river, it is a good option to float, but can be wade-fished at low water flows. The Jefferson offers great opportunities to target big fish with streamers, as well as during terrestrial time in the summer and early fall. Drive times range from 1.5 hours to 30 minutes.
    • Paradise Valley Spring Creeks- If you are looking to target big fish, hang out under gorgeous scenery, and fish challenging water, the Paradise Spring Creeks south of Livingston offer a great opportunity. Both Depuy Spring Creek and Armstrong Spring Creek offer challenging yet rewarding fishing environments and are highly regarded for the variety of different water types that can be fished with dry flies, nymphs, or smaller streamers. Drive time from Bozeman is around 45 minutes to an hour. Be aware there is a limit on anglers per day, as well as a daily usage fee to fish both spring creek locations, depending on time of year this price may vary.

What climbing gear do we offer?

Rock climbing

  • Climbing Shoes
  • Chalk Bag
  • Crash Pad: bifold and trifold
  • Climbing Helmet: BD Half Dome


Ice Climbing and Mountaineering

  • Ice Climbing Tools
  • Ice Climbing Crampons
  • Mountaineering Crampons
  • Mountaineering Boots
  • Mountaineering Axe
  • Gaiters


Where can I climb around Bozeman?

Want to learn more about Sport or Trad climbing? Check out these articles: sport climbing basics and trad climbing basics. More details and maps of climbing areas are also available through Mountain Project and the Crag.

How do I size a climbing shoe?

  • Your street shoe size is a good starting point, then adjust sizing based on how the shoe feels.
  • To test the fit, try on the shoes and raise your heel while pressing your toe into the ground - you should feel tension in the rubber keeping the shoe snug against your foot
  • There should be no excess bagging on top of the toe box or air pockets between the bottom of your heel and the heel cup of the shoe – if this occurs you likely need to size down.
  • The shoe should be snug but not painful – if there is any sensation of toe crushing, curling, or any intense pain you likely need to size up.
  • Keep in mind that most people’s feet are two slightly different sizes, so it may require a bit of trial and error to find shoes that are comfortable for both of your feet.
  • Here is a helpful guide with even more information about how to choose the correct size!