One of my favorite passtimes is looking for cheap flights to fill my long weekends off work. And so, I will spend hours browsing Skiplagged for an opportunity to explore a new place, or return to one I already find epic. This is how I found SunCountry flights to Bozeman, Montana from MSP for $140 roundtrip! And so, with a months notice, we were ready for our next adventure. A trip a month, that's our goal. And Montana was March's trip!
I had never been to Montana, and yeah, going in the winter is pretty much reserved for hitting the slopes, but we weren't going for that. We were going to hike, hit up some breweries, and take photos. As we like to say, "Take pretty pictures of pretty people in pretty places."
It started with an early morning flight, our favorite kind! And by 9:15AM, we were wheels down in Bozeman. First of all, that airport oozes cozy, cabin vibes! Off to the Budget Car Rental counter where we were given the keys to a white Jeep Wrangler. Ahh, vibes immaculate!
Bozeman is just how I imagined it. Mountains towering in every direction, makes a trip to the gas station an opportunity to appreciate the landscapes.
First stop, COFFEE! We had to caffeinate before the hike we were heading to and so Ghost Town Coffee Roasters was our pick! I got The Cora: A White Chocolate Lavender Mocha topped with Espresso Whipped Cream. And honestly, it may have been the best latte I've ever had. I could spoon eat that espresso whipped cream like my day job! Trent got a Maple Bourbon Latte, which he loved but, as I am not a fan of whiskey, I was not a fan. Such a cool warehouse vibe, tucked back into an industrial neighborhood, even the Jeep photo above was taken in the parking lot of the shop!
Ghost Town Coffee Roasters
And then, we went hiking!
Fairy Lake Trail, Gallatin County Montana
Before I even get started I'd just like to preface this story by saying that this hike did not end up how we wanted but it was fun nonetheless!
After driving winding, snow packed, single car width roads at 15 mph for 30 minutes we ended up at a parking lot with a sign stating " Fairy Lake Trailhead Parking." We saw 2 other cars there and thought, yeah this is it. Welp, it wasn't but we will get to that.
We swapped our tennis shoes for hiking boots and grabbed our trekking poles and we were off! According to AllTrails this hike was going to be about 5 miles roundtrip, with about 1000 ft elevation gain, and take roughly 2-3 hours to complete.
Pictured at the point we decided to turn around.
We were lucky that there were snowmobile tracks for us to follow, otherwise I don't know where we would have ended up. But we trudged on for 3 miles before we got to a "clearing" with signage stating, "Fairy Lake Trailhead." It was at this point, that we realized the 3 miles we had hiked got us to the starting point of the actual trail, the 5 mile roundtrip 1000 ft elevation 3 hr trail. We thought, lets just see what we can see after walking for a bit. The trail itself was untouched and so the snow was deep, like knee deep. The decision to turn around was a tough one, but we weighed our options: we could keep going, turning this into an all day hike for the lake to end up just being covered in ice and snow anyways or we could turn around, accept the epic views we had taken in and never know what entailed at the lake.
Fairy Lake Road
After the hike, we drove back through Bozeman and onto our next destination!
Such a cute town, nestled at the entrace to Paradise Valley, the drive between the freeway and Yellowstone NP. The retro street signs, cute restaurants, and quirky coffee shops make this town a must stop!
We wanted good food and good beer. And so we went to Katabatic Brewing Co. where we dove headfirst into some craft beer and mexican food brought over from the restaurant next door. Consider us satisfied!
Katabatic Brewing Co. Livingston, Montana
First of all Gardiner is basically the pot of smalll mountain town gold at the end of a scenic road rainbow. Like, the road between Livingston and Gardiner is literally called Paradise Valley. And that it was!!!
Devil's Slope, Paradise Valley
In Gardiner, we stayed at the Rhodopa Lodge. This place was perfect, a little motel style lodge where the view out the window can be appreciated in the photos below!
Rhodopa Lodge, Gardiner
Before we headed into Yellowstone we stopped at Wonderland Cafe and Lodge for our pre-adventure caffeine stop! This cafe is at the base of a cute hotel and has a really cozy yet eclectic mountain aesthetic. The patio in the back would be such a good spot for nice weather drinks!
Wonderland Cafe and Lodge, Gardiner
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
If you are going to Yellowstone to see Old Faithful or any of the other major landscape wonders within the park, March is not the time to go. But if you're down to just see what you can see without any real expectations, do it. I'd never been to Yellowstone before so I was excited simply to check it off my national park bucket list! The only thing we could really see was Mammoth Hot Springs. But it was epic, and there was like no one else around so it felt like we had it pretty much to ourselves!
Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone
After our morning in Yellowstone we drove back toward Bozeman, but first we made a stop back in our favorite little town, Livingston. Had to caffeinate and get some breakfast!
True North Coffee: Livingston
I am not over exaggerating when I say that this was the best breakfast sandwich I have EVER had. They are a little main street cafe that prides themselves on being good food, not fast food. We each drank their signature frozen coffees, I got white chocolate and Trent got caramel. Both incredible! I could picture myself making this place my daily remote work spot.
True North Coffee, Livingston
Then went to explore a new area called Hyalite Canyon! We had a photo session scheduled there for golden hour but with a few hours to kill until then we decided to go on a hike. Palisade Falls was supposed to be a pretty simple hike, highly trafficked, and with an endpoint of a frozen waterfall! Welp, let it be just like us to start off on the hike going in the complete wrong direction. After trekking a mile we collectively decided that we probably weren't going the right way, and so we turned around, headed back to the parking lot, and studied the trail map closer. We decided what we thought was correct and were off!
This hike was pretty easy. While the trail was covered in snow, we could tell that this was a paved trail the whole way. We passed several other people on this hike as well!
Palisade Falls Hike
The base of the frozen falls was a perfect point to crack open the Montana brewed beers we packed into our hiking bags. We spent about 30 minutes exploring and relaxing before making the return hike. Then we turned on our business hats and had our photo sessions before heading to our hotel in downtown Bozeman.
This motel was perfect. The aesthetic was incredible and there were so many small details! A handwritten welcome note, essential oils, the record player and retro fridge. They even had complimentary champagne and cup of coffee from the connected cafe, Farmer's Daughter. Regrettably, we didn't know about those two perks until the last day.
RSVP Motel, Bozeman
Downtown Bozeman has the cutest mainstreet. Boutique after boutique, riddled with quirky coffee shops and unique eats. Per usual we started our day with caffeine.
Zocalo Coffee was mentioned in several pinterest boards I had read in my pre-trip research. I had a Peanut butter cereal inspired drink which tasted like Reese's Puffs and coffee, the perfect combination in my book!
We spent the majority of the day walking around downtown Bozeman, hopping in and out of little stores and finding more coffee shops!
Wild Crumb Bakery
At Wild Crumb Bakery we opted for croissants and carrot cake. But I won't lie, I had a hard time staring at all their baked goods and not completely cleaning the place out. My almond croissant was as big as my face and the carrot cake, delicious! Calories don't count when you're on vacation right? I mean, we did hike so cake for breakfast is justified.
Other non-claimed calories pictured below:)
Granny's Gourmet Donuts Dave's Sushi
Granny's Gourmet Donuts:
$1 donuts, so yes we got 6 of them and ate them all without hesitation.
So many options! We opted for splitting 5 rolls and there was not a bad one in the bunch!
Food/drink not pictured and simply enjoyed:
Lockhorn Cider House
Mackenzie River Pizza Co.
Genuine Ice Cream Co.
Honestly just driving around the general Bozeman area provides so many opportunities for spontaneous adventure. Just pulling off on the side of the road features incredible views and perfect trails for leisure walks, notable spot featured above.
After our long weekend in Bozeman we looked at each other and honestly agreed that it would be a place we could see ourselves living. It's techically a town, with only roughly 40,000 people but it felt bigger than that. With its proximity to mountains for hiking and snowboarding, its impressive brewery scene, and friendly atmosphere, Bozeman is worth the trip!