Big Sky/Bozeman, Montana in 48 Hours
Though our trip's primary purpose was visiting Yellowstone National Park, I actually found myself surprised at how much we ended up doing (and loving) in both Big Sky and Bozeman, Montana. Unlike my normal jam-packed travel schedule, the vibes for this trip were much different and much slower: hike a trail here, drink a beer there.
There was something so refreshing about not having to be anywhere at a specific time other than the airport for the flight home that I cannot recommend enough every once in a while. We spent four nights total at a cabin in Big Sky—one whole day was dedicated to Yellowstone and the other two full days were dedicated to exploring Bozeman and Big Sky.
Ousel Falls—Located in Big Sky (very close to the town center), Ousel Falls was a fun, little trail that weaved in and out of pine tree forests—perhaps because it's literally located inside the Custer Gallatin National Forest. It was only about a mile long with just over a 150 ft elevation gain and was pretty easy to hike for the most part. I will say I'd probably recommend this trail more in the summer—we went in late April, which meant two threats: 1) there were still some remnants of snow that caused a couple of slippery moments and 2) the trail was less trafficked during the off-season so we spotted some fresh bear tracks (sorry mom, forgot to tell you that detail)!
"M" Shortcut Trail—Everyone who has every been to Bozeman will know about and recommend the "M" trail. If you're driving around the northeast part of town, you can't miss the giant white "M" on the side of the mountain, created by a series of white colored rocks. There was a "steep" trail that arguably gets you there faster, but it was so steep, I couldn't imagine how many breaks I would have needed to take. The trail we took was just over 1.5 miles and just over 850 ft elevation gain.
Kirk Hill Short Trail—This was another fun, little hike that seemed basic at first but as soon as the elevation started to kick in, you could see sweeping views of Bozeman behind the snow covered pine trees that made for a view I would definitely recommend. This trail was about 1.4 miles and over 550 ft elevation gain, and even in light snow was very doable.
Breweries & Distilleries
Shine Beer Sanctuary—This was my favorite brewery of the ones we visited that trip. The beers were fabulous, and the atmosphere was great for an afternoon card game! Plus, they had a ton of options, and they made all their own beer. We weren't hungry at the time, but there was also a cute, little restaurant built into the brewery as well.
Lockhorn Cider House—If you're a cider drinker, you must stop here. They have some super fun flavors and you can get a sampler (shown above) of four different 4 oz flavors.
Bozeman Taproom & Spirits—While they didn't make their own beers, this place had the best bang for your buck. A lot of the beers were still local, and they had these curry tater tots that were truly next level—10/10 recommend. Bacchus Pub will tell you they invented curry fries in the area, but everyone has their own version so definitely try the local delicacy.
Bozeman Spirits Distillery—Huckleberry is a Montana specialty, and this place had huckleberry vodka down to a perfection. I got something simple (huckleberry lemonade) because I really wanted to taste the huckleberry, but some friends got more fun drinks like the huckleberry mule and you could taste it a lot in those as well!
Treeline Coffee Roasters—This coffee shop was not one to be missed. I loved their coffee and their atmosphere. They have most of the standard coffee brewing methods (espresso, pour over, etc), and they had a speciality coffee menu as well!
Ghost Town Coffee Roasters—This was another awesome coffee find! I think they had a couple of locations, but we visited the one on 120 S Black Ave, and it had tons of space. 10/10 fire cappuccino.
Feed Cafe—We decided we had to stop here on our way to the airport because we had passed by multiple times, and boy, were we glad. This wasn't so much a coffee shop as it was just an amazing hearty breakfast spot. All the breakfast sandwiches we got were sooooo good, and they sold day-old cinnamon rolls the size of my head for $2 that made for a messy, but amazing, airport snack.
Where to Stay
Big Sky Bungalow—I've only been to Montana once, and thus, I have only one recommendation on where to stay, but we absolutely loved our AirBnb! It was the perfect cabin for up to four people with sweeping mountain views. It's located in Big Sky, which made for a great in-between location of Yellowstone and Bozeman as well! We went in the end of April, which was in between ski and summer season, and the quietness was actually quite nice. You can view the AirBnb details here.