Backpacking Around Bozeman

As spring slowly creeps up on us and the days are getting longer and nicer, the desire to be outside only grows in everyone. One activity that really starts to come to the top of mind looking ahead at the year is backpacking around Bozeman. Car camping has it’s undeniable charms and can lead you to some pretty amazing places, but backpacking will truly get you in the wilderness.

The idea of walking on your own two feet to some place that hasn’t changed much since time immemorial, carrying everything you need on your back, has an appeal to a lot of people. Backpacking is simple. It forces you to prioritize what things truly are “essential” and makes you realize that you really don’t need all that much stuff to make it. For a few nights at least.


Aside from the obvious gear like a good pack, sleep system, solid clothing, and stove, there’s a few things you will need for backpacking around Bozeman. Bear spray is number one. While you have some options to rent this when you come to Montana, we really don’t recommend that. Read this blog to find out why. Bear Spray is an essential in our mountains here, and it’s much better to have it and not need it than vice versa.

A lightweight and packable chair has risen to the top of my backpacking gear list. While this certainly is considered a luxury and the mere mention of it will cause ultralight backpackers to recoil, it’s really nice to have a dry and comfortable place to sit in town. There are several makes and models that are a pound or less, and they can easily strap to the outside of a pack.

A lightweight tarp is another item that is very handy for backpacking around Bozeman. You can stretch it out from the door of your tent to form an awning, make a shelter during a rain storm, or block the elements like sun and wind. During the summer, we get a lot of afternoon rain showers in the mountains south of Bozeman. It’s almost a daily thing, and it’s nice to have a dry place to weather the storm. I like the Hilleberg Tarp 5. It packs down very small, is easy to set up, and is light.


There are a myriad of options for where to go when backpacking around Bozeman. A 20-30 minute drive will get you to the Bridger Mountains, the Gallatin Mountains, Hyalite, or down the Gallatin Canyon. Drive a bit more and you can be in Paradise Valley along the Yellowstone River, or the Tobacco Roots west of Ennis. There are countless places to go.

If you want to avoid crowds, spend a bit of time online reading trail reports and hiking groups on Facebook. Any place that gets mentioned a lot, avoid. There are plenty of popular and easy hikes and backcountry spots that most people flock to. There is usually a reason they go there, and it’s usually worth checking out. Just be aware that you’ll see people.

One of the best ways to find where to go is to go old school and spread a paper map out. Look where the trails take you, find the random lakes in the high country, and the meadows with an incredible view. There are so many quiet and undisturbed places around here still, even with the population and tourism boom. Finding them is half the fun!


We love wild and untouched places for that very reason – they are wild and untouched. It doesn’t take that much effort to keep them that way. Stay on established trails as much as possible. Camp in established backcountry sites, or at least on places where placing a tent won’t damage the flora. And always, always pack it in, pack it out. There’s nothing worse than getting to a cool spot in the backcountry and finding trash.

In the coming months and years we are going to need wild and clean places more than ever before. Do your part to help keep them that way.

Backpacking around Bozeman is a great way to get outside and explore parts of Montana many people otherwise miss. It involves more planning and physical work than a lot of other camping trips, but it’s worth it for its own rewards. Planning a backpacking trip for this summer is a great way to spend the time right now!


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