Frugal Travel Feature: Bozeman, Montana

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If it wasn’t for the massive snow fall in the winter, my bags would be backed and I would be on my way to Montana. To say it’s beautiful place would be an understatement. With mountain views from just about any where, it hard to not be at ease when there. While the cost of a plane ticket to Montana usually isn’t in the bargain category, if you use you can find an affordable ticket. Flexibility would be key on planning this trip for a better price. I flew out on a Wednesday with a return flight on a Monday. Both with short layovers but over all were fairly easy travel days.
Once there your biggest issue will be deciding what to do first. You options are, hiking, kayaking, paddle board, exploring caverns, down town shopping, tubing, fishing, hunting, museums, bowling, Yellowstone, Big Sky, and the list goes on and on and on. The good news is most of it is free or simply the cost of renting what ever fun flotation device you need. We opted  for paddle boards at $25 for a full day. So we picked up a lunch and headed for the lake with our boards and prayers I wouldn’t fall in the cold water despite the locals trying to tell this Georgia girl it was “hot this week”. I didn’t really fall for it but I let them believe it was. I know they would mock my “it’s cold” so I called a truce. For our adventure we explored the Hyalite Reservoir and it did not disappoint. With camping and hiking around the lake it’s worth a day visit or overnight camping stay. And no, I did not fall in.
The next day we were off  to good ol’ Yellowstone! I HAD NO IDEA IT WAS SO BIG. If you enter the park on the Bozeman side you are still an hour from Old Faithful. SO BIG! The best spot we logged some time at was the Grand canyon of Yellowstone. There’s a big waterfall and short little trails to hike for those that don’t care for big long hikes. Even on a cold rainy day the views were simply amazing. Also, I noticed there are a great deal of Asians in the park. Not sure why, as Montana is as diverse as a box of cheerios. If any one can explain this cultural phenomenon please let me know.But back to my frugal adventure. In total the cost to get into the park was only $35 per vehicle (prices are seasonal) and the cost of lunch at the canyon diner was around $10. Because we split the cost of the entrance fee it was a fairly frugal day.

        When all else fails in Montana, go hiking. There are little baby trails and long switchback trails and  a few tough trails. So take your pick but make sure you don’t go your first day there. Altitude sickness is no ones friend. Under the recommendation from my airplane buddy Bill, we hiked up Sacajawea Peak. There is a reason why this is on the National Geographic Top 20 hikes. I (a non-hiker) made it. It has its tougher spots but for the most part is a great hike. The views are breathtaking, but come to think of it that may have been the elevation. You hike 2,000 feet of elevation in 2 miles. My little Georgia lungs felt the thin air but on I went. I’m told there are mountain goats on this stretch of the mountains but alas my hike was goat-less. While the hike is amazing on its own, the real gem is Fairy Lake tucked in behind the trees.
Fairly Lake lives up to it’s name and how magical this place looks. A rainbow of wild flowers flowing down the mountain to a crystal clear blue lake. The pictures don’t do it justice at all. I HAVE NO WORDS. I could have sat and stared at this place all day long. While access to the trail and lake are free, it is seasonal and you drive on a very rough dirt road to the get there.
With the last day of  my trip we set off the explore the Lewis and Clark Caverns. Here you take a short little incline hike to the cave entrance. From there you are guided further into the mountain and into the “rooms”. With witty tour-guides, a 40 degree temperature, and low entry fee of $12 its worth it! The tour last 2 hours so make sure you don’t have to use the restroom.
When you are in Montana you will realize a few things. 1. No one here wears a fit bit. THEY DON’T NEED THEM. 2. Snow Shoeing is a perfectly good answer to “what did you do this weekend?”. 3. They only sell Pepsi and unsweet tea. However, there is a saving grace in this beautiful town. It’s called The Roost. Here you will find all your southern essentials. Friend chicken, biscuits, all the fixens and the water of the south also know as Sweet tea. They also have Coke products to cure any withdraws you may be having. It’s well worth the visit even if you aren’t from the south and could care less about tea and coke. The food is top notch and I don’t mess around with good food.
To say this town stole my heart would be no further from the truth. I Just really hate cold weather so here I will stay for now and plan my next adventure.


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