Get out and stay out (in Bozeman and Missoula)

Bozeman and Missoula are two very different Montana towns, but the outdoor opportunities each provides connect the two in positive ways. The outdoor community in both towns is thriving, and each area offers their fair share of rocks to climb, mountains to ski and trails to hike.

Both towns are above par in the climbing sphere, with each boasting their own nooks for rock climbing. Within a half hour of MSU is the Bozeman Pass, a limestone heaven. It offers 25 sport climbing routes for beginners as well as for advanced climbers with grades ranging from 5.6 to 5.13b. Whiskey Gulch is a great spot for bouldering, and well worth checking out. On the other side, Missoula has the Bitterroot Mountain Range to count on for its climbing scene. It offers lots of multi-pitch sport and trad routes on granite cliffs and bouldering problems for climbers of varying abilities.

As for skiing and snowboarding, the beloved Bridger Bowl is just a 30-minute drive away from here, and Big Sky only an hour. Big Sky’s longest run is a whopping six miles, and the mountain has over 250 runs, more than half of which are rated black-diamond or higher. For college students who can’t afford to pay for these extra runs, Bridger Bowl offers 71 runs ranging from green to double-black-diamond ratings, the longest of which is three miles. For Missoulians, they have their ski resort, Montana Snowbowl. Located 15 miles from downtown Missoula, their longest run is also three miles, and they offer 39 runs which range in difficulty.

Bozeman and Missoula each offer unique water recreation to their outdoor community as well. Missoulan’s are known for surfing the Clark’s Fork River rapids found under the campus bridge. As for Bozemanites, the newly-renovated pools at the Bozeman Hot Springs offer relaxation and warmth even on the coldest of winter nights to MSU students and community members, alike. Both towns offer nearby rivers for tubing in the heat of summer, and both are just outside national forests which offer scenic hikes of ranging difficulty to waterfalls aplenty.

And finally, the two college towns would not be complete without their famous hikes. Bozeman’s College “M” hike overlooks the Gallatin Valley at 5,800 feet. Meanwhile, Missoula’s “M” trail is slightly shorter and less elevated at 3,820 feet. The trademark “M’s” were created by students in 1908 for UM and 1915 for MSU, and it has since become a tradition to hike to the top of the mountain for every Bozemanite and Missoulian alike.

There are many things that connect the two towns other than the Brawl of the Wild. It is worthwhile to check out what each town has to offer, especially when it comes to the outdoor community of each.