Closer Than You’d Think: Vistas From Your Vehicle
Occasionally, folks who visit the Bozeman, Big Sky and Yellowstone area of Montana during the winter are disappointed to learn that they can’t drive through much of Yellowstone National Park, since the majority of its roads are closed for the season. But the truth is, some of our region’s most beautiful drive-to vistas are located outside of the park, anyway, and are all within a day’s drive from anywhere in our region.
Bridger Canyon: Make a Day of It
Highway 86, as it’s labeled on maps, runs between Bozeman and the tiny town of Wilsall. Along this curving highway, you’ll experience multiple views of the Northern Bridger Mountains, the Bangtail Mountains and the Crazy Mountains. The road eventually drops into the Shields Valley, where you get a look back at it all. Taking this scenic route is a great option if you’re looking to venture over into Livingston for the day. If you leave early enough, you’ll arrive there just in time for lunch and can hop on westbound I-90 for an easy trip back to Bozeman.
Hyalite Canyon: Quick and Pretty
Known worldwide by ice climbers for its frozen waterfalls, by fisherman for its creeks full of cutthroats and by hikers and bikers for its miles of trails, a trip to Hyalite Canyon is worth it for the views alone. The area is conveniently located just south of Bozeman and provides a great opportunity for visitors who might only have a couple of hours to kill. This steep, curving canyon drive follows Hyalite Creek for 10.5 miles and eventually brings you to Hyalite Reservoir. Here, snowy peaks dominate the skyline and plenty of trailheads exist to serve as gateways to the vast wilderness area.
The South Gallatin Canyon: A Different Look at Yellowstone
Highway 191 connects Bozeman to Big Sky, but what lies further south is arguably the highway’s most scenic stretch. As you continue beyond Big Sky, you’ll enter what locals refer to as “The South Canyon.” This part of the Gallatin Canyon is steeper and narrower than the downstream sections made famous by Robert Redford’s A River Runs Through It, and contains many unique rock formations, such as arches and pinnacles, perched high above the rushing waters of the Gallatin River. If time is on your side, continue south toward Hebgen Lake, where you’ll get a great view of the Yellowstone Plateau and Lionhead Mountain, which marks the Montana/Idaho border and the Great Divide.