My first trip to Big Sky, Montana and Yellowstone National Park was in 2011, right after I graduated from high school. This was before I really fell in love with hiking, and was one of my first forays into high-altitude adventures.
The mountains of Montana are a spectacular sight to see, winter or summer. I truly believe that being up in the mountains can change your perspective on life, on what is important. There’s something about being around these masses of land so huge that can make a person feel so small, helping to put our minor problems into perspective.
Hiking in Montana
During my stay in Montana, we hiked the Ousel Falls trail, a beautiful stretch into the forest along the river and to waterfalls. Hiking in the mountains is exhausting if you live at a much lower altitude, but it’s great exercise, and the Ousel Falls hike isn’t terribly strenuous. There are other hikes in the area to enjoy too – this is just a great introductory hike when you first arrive in Big Sky and are adjusting to the altitude and atmosphere of being at a higher elevation.
When hiking in Montana, bring plenty of water and some snacks and always wear good, sturdy shoes. If you’re hiking in the summer, you should wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat too, as it can be easy to burn.
Horseback Riding in Big Sky
Even if you aren’t a huge fan of horses, going riding while in Montana is a fantastic activity to enjoy the outdoors and explore the trails. We booked a trail ride with Jake’s Horses in Big Sky, and it was an incredible experience riding along the mountains. It’s such a relaxing way to get out into nature, and it’s excellent for beginners or experienced horse riders alike.
Day Trip to Yellowstone National Park from Big Sky
From Big Sky, Montana, it’s about an hour drive to Wyoming and into Yellowstone National Park. I think Yellowstone is rightfully at the top of the list of national parks within the United States that warrant a visit.
We enjoyed the national park mostly from the car, stopped to get out and walk around, and enjoyed a picnic within the park. We hiked through the hot springs area and of course, watched the eruption of Old Faithful from the lodge. It all was beautiful and was a great time to appreciate nature with my family. Make the walk to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, swim in Yellowstone Lake (it’s freezing, even in the heat of summer) and see as much of this park as you can in a day. You can’t see it all, but there’s a lot of sights you can tick off a list if you get an early start.
Wildlife in Yellowstone
When driving or hiking through Yellowstone, it’s crucial to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife! We saw deer, lots of birds, and buffalo in the tall grasses. Don’t ever approach these animals, just enjoy them from a safe distance.
Whitewater Rafting in Big Sky
For an exciting and refreshing activity while in Montana, whitewater rafting is a must. Explore the Gallatin River and enjoy an adrenaline rush with a professional rafting service like Montana Whitewater Rafting Company. It’s a thrilling activity and a great way to enjoy the best natural features of the state – the rivers and rapids beneath the rocky cliffs and tree-covered mountainsides. Go with a guided tour with friends and family for an unforgettable day.
I was fortunate to experience views of the mountains from multiple perspectives; from hiking trails, the saddle of a horse and an inflatable raft coursing down the river. Hiking, connecting with nature and spending time outdoors is such a good way to relax and disconnect, and Montana is full of hiking trails and breathtaking scenery. Big Sky is just the tip of the iceberg of what Montana has to offer, but if I could only visit one place in this massive state, I’d say Big Sky can provide you with the full experience.