1. Try a dog sled ride.
First-timers return from this experience with rave reviews. Being low to the ground brings a whole new perspective to the beauty of the forestland here, and the power and energy of the dogs is impressive. Most mushers will even let you take the reins for a while! Tours are available in Paradise Valley, Big Sky and West Yellowstone.
2. Strap on some snowshoes.
Snowshoeing can be low impact and relaxing, or an invigorating and challenging trek. You can find groomed trails at Lone Mountain Ranch and Crosscut Mountain Sports Center, but don’t be afraid to explore one of the many standard hiking trails, or venture off the beaten track. The trails in Big Sky are numerous, and if you’re in the Big Timber area, Natural Bridge Falls is not to be missed.
3. Tour the museums.
Yellowstone Country boasts over 13 diverse museums, each showcasing the history of their town. The Livingston Depot Center, built in 1902 by the Northern Pacific Railroad, is an architectural icon and tells the story of what was once a railroad town. The Beartooth Highway is known as one of the most spectacular drives in America, and, at the Cooke City Montana Museum, you can learn what a feat it was to build. In Bozeman, the Museum of the Rockies, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is home to the country’s largest collection of North American dinosaur fossils consisting entirely of discoveries made in and around Montana.
4. Meander through art galleries.
It’s hard to deny—the landscape in this part of the country is picture perfect, and it’s speculated that many artists move here for both the inspiration and the lifestyle. Livingston is home to many prominent writers, photographers and fine artists, and the gallery scene is rich with local work. In Bozeman, you can easily lose track of time exploring more than 20 galleries downtown.
5. Hop on a sleigh ride.
Yes, you can still step back in time and enjoy an old-fashioned sleigh ride. Rides are available in Belgrade, Big Sky and Red Lodge—some with a delicious dinner option!
6. Take a snowcoach tour through Yellowstone National Park.
The park is gorgeous in the winter. The landscape literally sparkles, and the animals move to lower elevations, making for great wildlife watching. A snowcoach—an over-the-snow vehicle—is perfect for exploring in warm comfort.
7. Enjoy a good cup of joe.
Coffee lovers will not be disappointed; the coffee shops are plentiful, and many roast their own beans. In West Yellowstone, Morning Glory Coffee and Tea roasts small batch, specialty flavors. In Red Lodge, Coffee Factory Roasters roasts their beans on site daily and Treeline Coffee Roasters, Bozeman’s newest roaster, has quickly become a local favorite.
8. Explore the iconic taverns.
New Atlas Bar in Columbus will surprise you with more than 70 animal mounts, including a two-headed calf and an albino fawn. The Haufbrau House in Bozeman is a favorite of everyone from college students to long-term locals who meet for daily conversation and camaraderie. West Yellowstone locals love Bullwinkles; which is also an eatery and casino. You’ll hear some great local tales at Red’s Blue Goose Saloon in Gardiner, and, in the summer, their rooftop deck looks out over the breathtaking Yellowstone landscape.
9. Fall in love with ice skating.
Yes, ice skating is still a popular pastime in these parts. Local rinks, which are often iced over ponds or parks, can be found in West Yellowstone, Red Lodge, Big Sky and Bozeman. Haynes Pavilion in Bozeman has an indoor rink offering public skating, and, as a bonus, you can take in an Icedogs hockey game!
10. Cozy up, relax and read a good book!There is something about the charm of local bookstores that draws you in, and you’ll soon find yourself trying to decide what is next on your reading list. Whether you’re interested in history, classics or current bestsellers, it’s easy to get lost in the shelves. Elk River Books, Vargo’s Jazz City and Books and the Country Bookshelf are some of our favorites!
For more winter vacation ideas, request a free travel packet.