Bozeman, Montana is often seen as the gateway to Yellowstone and a jumping-off point to visit nearby Ski Resorts, but a trip to the region should always include some time to explore the city itself.
This is the fourth largest city in Montana and has a distinct and enviable culture, home to loads of independent businesses and a small-town feel with all the amenities of larger cities. For easy access, there is a nearby international airport and a major interstate, I90, runs right through town.
Bozeman, like all other cities, has distinct seasons for tourism and different popular activities depending on the time of year. Because Montana’s seasons are so distinct – hot, humid summers bookended by long, frozen winters – seasonality can certainly impact your travel plans.
If you’re unsure what’s the best time of year to visit Bozeman, here’s a brief rundown of the various tourist seasons, monthly weather, and calendar of major events.
Best Time To Visit Bozeman For…
Best Time to Book a Hotel in Bozeman
Bozeman has somewhat curious travel seasons, but you’ll typically find hotel rooms, cabins, and resorts at their lowest occupancies and prices in November, and from January through March. In town, hotels are generally open year-round, but properties around Bozeman are only open in the winter (like ski resorts that don’t offer summer activities) while others close completely from the first snowfall until the spring thaw.
Best Time for Sightseeing in Bozeman
Summer offers the best weather for a sightseeing stroll, but the crowds in July might deter you somewhat. Thankfully the end of June and mush of August have similar weather with markedly fewer tourists.
Best Time for Shopping in Bozeman
Beginning the day after Thanksgiving with Black Friday, the holiday season is the best time for shopping in Montana. Not only will you find some of the best sales of the year at the big, national chains, but local, independent retailers tend to be very active in December. In addition, you’ll find special holiday-themed markets and pop-ups that specialize in local, handmade, and artisan goods.
Best Time for Festivals & Events in Bozeman
Summer hosts the most festivals and events of the year: the warm weather makes it much more comfortable to hold events outdoors, and schools aren’t in session so more folks can attend. Offerings range from live music, to rodeos, to art fairs, to farmer’s markets. There’s generally something unique to do every weekend, often for free.
Bozeman Travel Seasons
Bozeman has somewhat curious travel seasons. While they, like many other locales, have a high season in the summer, they also have a brief resort season that draws thousands of tourists. These are interspersed with low and shoulder seasons.
The high season is typically the summer – mainly July and August – though Bozeman has a sliver of a resort season during the holidays, from Thanksgiving to the very beginning of January. These are the times of the year when flights and accommodation will be the most expensive and have the fewest vacancies for last-minute travelers.
A lot of this winter tourism is because of Bozeman’s prime position near both an international airport and one of the only entrances to Yellowstone that’s open year-round. Bozeman is the premier jumping-off point for Christmas and New Year trips to Yellowstone. Just beyond the entrance at Gardiner are Yellowstone’s winter lodges, but keep in mind that holiday reservations are made up to a year in advance.
The low season is typically November and January through April. These are the months with the least tourists and lowest prices, though vacancies can seem high if you’re visiting a nearby ski resort. In general, in-town visits are easy to plan last minute this time of year.
The shoulder season is May, June, September, and October. These are the months when you’ll find the best balance of available rooms at modest prices and the most comfortable weather. June in particular is legendary for having long, sunny days without the stiff competition for accommodation you’ll find in July.
Bozeman Weather by Month
Average High: 35º | Average Low: 14º
January in Bozeman is typically snowy and cold. The fluctuating temperature can cause snow accumulation to melt during the day and refreeze at night, so you’ll have to take extra care to avoid slick, icy roads. If you don’t have much experience driving on black ice, be sure to take extra precautions, especially at night. You’ll need to be sure to pack a whole complement of winter gear: parka, gloves, thick socks, a hat, and boots if you want to ensure your comfort.
Average High: 38º | Average Low: 17º
While the snowpack in town is beginning to subside somewhat, there’s still a significant chance to find snow on the ground in Bozeman in February. While major interstates and in-town roads will be plowed, be careful on any backcountry or access roads, as they could be snowy, icy, or closed. Adequate gear for cold weather is still required this time of year, even if you don’t plan on spending that much time outside.
Average High: 47º | Average Low: 24º
It’s not unusual to see snow in Bozeman in March, but it’s also common to see rain. This can be a soggy time of year in the city, though nearby ski areas will still have plenty of snow. Rain gear and waterproof boots or shoes will keep you a lot more comfortable during your trip. Overnight temperatures can still get well below freezing, so gear for wintery weather is still more than appropriate.
Average High: 56º | Average Low: 30º
In April, precipitation increases somewhat, with a mix of rainy days and snowy nights. Though large accumulations of snow are rare this time of year, roads can still be quite icy, especially first thing in the morning having frozen overnight. Rain gear and proper winter layers are still recommended in April in Bozeman, though you may find yourself occasionally leaving the accouterments – like a hat, gloves, and a scarf – back at the hotel room, especially toward the end of the month.
Average High: 65º | Average Low: 38º
The last snow flurries of the year usually occur in May, leaving most of the month completely free of snow in Bozeman. However, this is the rainiest month of the year, so be sure to be prepared with waterproof rain gear and footwear.
Average High: 73º | Average Low: 44º
The spring rains begin to slow, and the temperature gets considerably warmer in June. This is the first month where you might consider wearing a pair of shorts or a sundress, just be sure to bring a coat if you’ll be out past nightfall.
Average High: 83º | Average Low: 50º
Largely considered the best month of the year for weather in Bozeman, July temperatures range between balmy and outright hot, with very little rain and few days with overcast skies. This is the time for spending time outdoors and wild swimming. Nights can still be chilly, so be sure to bring a jacket. While driving conditions are generally ideal, you may find the occasional road that’s muddy from rainwater.
Average High: 82º | Average Low: 48º
Still well within the high season, August weather is some of the best, with the least rain of the whole year. Long, hot days can still be followed by somewhat chilly nights, so be sure to pack appropriate clothing if you’ll be out in the evening. Driving conditions are ideal in August, and all roads are open barring those closed for maintenance or construction.
Average High: 72º | Average Low: 40º
The fall chill starts to set in around the middle of September, but days are generally still balmy and sunny. Though it may not be ideal for swimming, there are still those who don’t mind taking a dip in the lake despite the colder weather. Nights, in particular toward the end of the month, can get downright cold, so be prepared with a coat.
Average High: 58º | Average Low: 32º
In October you’ll see the full effects of Fall in Bozeman, with blustery winds and the occasional snow flurry. Though it’s unlikely to see snow accumulate in the city this time of year, if you’re traveling over a nearby pass you may encounter a legitimate snowfall. While you might fare okay during the day with a jacket and a couple of layers, you will likely need a proper coat in the evenings.
Average High: 43º | Average Low: 21º
Though not yet technically winter, November in Bozeman can feel decidedly wintery. This is when you’ll see the first few snowfalls in town, and many businesses revert to their winter hours. Nights can get well below freezing which demands a full complement of winter clothing. Driving around Bozeman is generally fine on major streets and the Interstate, though some nearby roads may already be closed for the season.
Average High: 33º | Average Low: 12º
Generally the coldest month of the year, you’ll have to make considerable preparations to visit Bozeman in December. Roads can be slick and icy when left unsalted, so snow tires can be helpful, especially during the day. If you plan on spending any considerable amount of time outside, you’ll be the most comfortable with plenty of layers and all the winter gear – including a hat, gloves, and a scarf to keep you toasty.
Bozeman Events and Festivals
Held annually at the end of July, the Big Sky Country State Fair at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds draws folks from around the entire region. With a rodeo, a petting zoo, live music, and plenty of classic fair food, Montana’s best version of an old-fashioned country fair will not disappoint.
This three-day arts festival held annually during the first weekend in August features crafts, live music, and other performances all in honor of the humble Montana staple, the sweet pea. Theater troops perform Shakespearean classics and a children’s parade ambles down Main Street, while a beer tent serves up some of Montana’s best local brews. But the highlight of this over-40-year-old festival is the vendor area, where over a hundred local craftspeople sell their handmade wares.
This summer arts festival gathers hundreds of artists and other creatives to showcase their work alongside live music, talks, and other performances. Vendors span a wide variety and include photographers, furniture designers, and even writers and poets. Booths are spread across three different venues, Emerson Lawn, Bogert Park, and Mansion Park, and each site also has a handful of pop-ups featuring food, drinks, and other edible treats.
Every year in mid-August, this classic car show takes over Downtown Bozeman. Lay people and auto professionals are equally invited to register their cars to showcase, so you’ll find a good mix of cars to admire. If you have a classic car of your own you’d like to show off, they have same-day registration available.
This summer farmers market is held every Saturday morning from mid-July to early September except during the Big Sky State Fair. Originally started in 1971, it has, through its several iterations, become an integral part of Bozeman’s community. Here you’ll find farm-fresh produce, cheeses, preserves, and several booths selling local, artisan crafts.
This farmers market is held every Tuesday evening from mid-June until early September. With over 50 different vendors, there’s a wide variety to peruse: you’ll find fresh produce, meats, and cheeses alongside handmade housewares and beauty products. It’s very conveniently located, right on Main Street at Lindley Park.
This annual Thursday night concert series runs from the end of July until mid-August and features an incredible selection of local and touring bands. These live shows are held right on Main Street, with an entire block shut down to accommodate the stage and crowds. In addition to the music program, there are food trucks and other pop-up vendors, and lots of local businesses stay open late to accommodate the extra foot traffic.
On the second Friday of July, August, and September, the Downtown Bozeman Association and the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture host an evening art walk. All of the galleries, studios, and other art-adjacent retailers participate in the event, often debuting new work and shows on this night. Officially the event goes from 4-8 pm, though some retailers and galleries are known to stay open late.
If you have kids in tow, you can attend Montana Science Center’s annual Halloween event. They have hands-on science activities specifically curated for Halloween, a costume contest, and plenty of treats for kids.
To honor the prolific cultivation of hops in the Pacific Northwest, Bozeman hosts the annual Fresh Hop Festival featuring a variety of fresh-hopped beers. Your admission grants you a souvenir tasting glass and unlimited samples of this seasonal brew, all made by different local breweries. There are also several food trucks and plenty of live music.
Held annually at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds by HandMADE Montana, this arts and crafts exhibition is part craft sale and part art show. Here you’ll find a mix of both useful and decorative items for your home, body, garden, and more, though all of them have been completely handmade in Montana.
For ten days surrounding Indigenous People’s Day, several teepees are erected and illuminated at night on the bluff that overlooks Bozeman. This display, spearheaded by the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council and the City of Bozeman coincides with several events for the holiday including a land acknowledgment, a blessing, and a Round Dance.
Like a reverse Black Friday, every February over Presidents Day weekend, several local businesses band together to offer deeply discounted merchandise. This is the perfect opportunity to pick up souvenirs and winter gear.
On the first Saturday in December, Bozeman kicks off the holiday season with its annual Christmas Stroll. Many different businesses and government buildings dress up for the occasion in holiday lights, and after dusk is the tree lighting ceremony. There is also caroling and an appearance by Santa Claus himself.
A special holiday edition of Bozeman’s monthly summer art walks, the Winter Art Walk showcases new work by several different artists spread out between Bozeman’s many downtown galleries and businesses as well as the Emerson Center for Arts and Culture. Gallerists are known to offer food, drinks, and even the occasional musician.
Ski Areas Open for the Season
While opening dates for ski areas in Montana are generally predictable, they can be delayed a couple of days from the anticipated day. Although this is rare, keep this in mind when planning your trip to coincide with opening day at a mountain resort.
A favorite among students from Montana State University, Bridger Bowl opens in the beginning of December.
Replete with an entire mountain village and a fully-equipped, well-appointed resort, Big Sky usually opens around the end of November.
This annual half-marathon and 10k run is hosted by and ends at Pub 317 on East Main Street. Over 3,000 runners participate each year, but registration is capped to prevent overcrowding. Sign up early if you’d like to join.
Held annually at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds at the beginning of April, the Spring Rodeo, hosted by Montana State University, has several classic rodeo events spread over one long weekend. You can watch slack rope, short go, and other rodeo exhibition performances by local cowgirls and boys.
This annual powwow is an ecumenical event for a myriad of local indigenous communities and allies. Centered around social, ceremonial, and competitive dancing, this is one of the largest annual powwows in the state and offers an incredible opportunity to learn more about local indigenous culture.