- Clara Bosonetto For the AJC
Weekend in Bozeman, Mont., one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.
Trip tips: Bozeman is one of the state’s largest towns but still retains a small-town feeling. This university town buzzes with activity and provides a base from which to explore national parks, and national trails and forests, http://hike.wildmontana.org. This scenic region is surrounded by mountains on all sides and is a fly-fishing paradise. The Big Sky community, known for skiing and mountain biking, is an hour south, and it’s another hour south to Yellowstone National Park. https://visitbigskymt.com.
Getting there: Rates from $258 on Frontier (long layovers) and from $414 on Delta during sale periods. Both require one flight connection.
Stay: The C’mon Inn is a Western-styled hotel about 5 miles out of town with a three-story central atrium/courtyard with a waterfall and koi pond. Guest room entries overlook the atrium and feature private balconies, in-room whirlpools, stone fireplaces, and pull-out sofas. Extended-stay suites have full kitchens. On site are a large indoor pool and hot tub. Rates from $120 include buffet breakfast and complimentary airport shuttle service. 6139 E. Valley Center Road, Bozeman. 406-587-3555, www.cmoninn.com/bozeman.
Eat: Patrons visit the family-run Western Cafe, circa early 1900s, for house-made cinnamon rolls ($2.95), biscuits and gravy ($8.95), chicken-fried steak ($10.75) and eggs. This charming diner is open from 6 a.m.-2 p.m. 443 E. Main St., Bozeman. 406-587-0436, www.thewesterncafe.com.
Experience: A Smithsonian affiliate, Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University is recognized as one of the world’s finest research and history museums, and it’s renowned for an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils. Along with permanent indoor and outdoor regional history exhibits and planetarium shows, the museum presents changing exhibits from around the world. Consecutive two-day admission is $14.50 adults, $9.50 ages 5-17. 600 W. Kagy Blvd., Bozeman. 406-994-2251, www.museumoftherockies.org.
Stay: Howlers Inn is a premier bed-and-breakfast with a taste of the wild. Innkeepers have provided a safe and secure sanctuary for captive-bred wolves that cannot be released into the wild. Set on 42 pastoral acres and 14 miles from downtown, the log home offers three guest rooms (from $135) and a two-bedroom guest house (from $195). The king-bedded Western Room offers views of the wolves and Absaroka and Bridger mountain ranges, from $150-$180 based on season. On site are a Finnish sauna, pool table, a big-screen TV for Netflix films and a play area and rock wall for youngsters. 3185 Jackson Creek Road, Bozeman. 406-587-2050, www.howlersinn.com.
Eat: The freshest fish and seafood from all over the world are delivered daily to Montana Fish Company. Watch and learn about your sushi rolls as they are master prepared ($9-$15). Hand-cut sashimi plates, $15 to market price. Closed Sundays. 119 E. Main St., Bozeman. 406-577-2332, www.mtfishco.com.
Experience: Take one of the most scenic loop road tours in the state. The four-to-five-hour route runs south on Highway 191 and back north on Highway 287. The Gallatin Canyon follows the rushing Gallatin River south toward Yellowstone National Park. Many of the fishing scenes in “A River Runs Through It” were filmed on the river. Take in spectacular views, and maybe even some wildlife. Plan a stop at the Gallatin River ZipLine and ascend sky bridges to a tree platform 55 feet up on a guided adventure. The two-hour challenge takes you from tree platforms to multideck towers and across the Gallatin River. Ideal for first-time zip liners and families; $60 adult, $50 ages 5-12. Add a half-day raft trip for $40. At mile marker 64 on Highway 191, Gallatin Gateway. 1-888-564-4465, www.yellowstonezip.com.
Stay: The Gallatin River Lodge is a secluded boutique hotel and fly-fishing lodge with a five-star restaurant, located on a ranch with private access to the Gallatin River just 10 minutes west of downtown. The lodge offers rooms with Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces and the Trout Cabin Lodge with six rooms, including a two-bedroom suite. Double room rates from $675 and $600 per night respectively, including all meals for stays through Oct. 14. One-night rates from $170 from Oct. 15-April 15; chef-prepared breakfast $10 per person. The on-site private pond is the ideal spot to practice fly-fishing for rainbow trout or to take a casting lesson. Over 70 miles of rivers are within an hour’s drive of the lodge. 9105 Thorpe Road, Bozeman. 406-388-0148, www.grlodge.com.
Eat: Organic home-style Northern Italian cuisine is served at the Emerson Grill, located in the historic Emerson Center for the Arts & Culture. Salads and antipasti, $4-$15; flatbreads, $14-$16; mains, $17-$35. This romantic cornerstone eatery is also open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. for Sunday Jazz Brunch. 207 W. Olive St., Bozeman. 406-586-5247, http://emersongrill.com.
Experience: Enjoy a full-day guided safari to Yellowstone National Park, including transportation to the world’s best-known national park. The actual itinerary is based on your “must-see” personalized priorities such as spotting wildlife, exploring backcountry geysers, canyon hiking, or photography with a professional wildlife guide. One or two people is $690, including binocular and spotting scope use for each participant, snacks, beverages and lunch. 406-586-1155, http://yellowstonesafari.com.