Gallatin National Forest in Montana

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Gallatin National Forest

Gallatin National Forest is part of the Greater Yellowstone Area (the largest intact ecosystem in the continental United States) and spans six mountain ranges, offering outstanding year-round outdoor recreation.

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  • Established in 1899, Gallatin National Forest is a popular, year-round recreation destination.
  • Three world-class trout fishing rivers (Gallatin, Madison, and Yellowstone) originate in GNF.
  • Trekkers and cyclists can tackle 2,200 miles of trails from 5,000 feet to 10,000 feet elevation.
  • Hyalite Canyon, south of Bozeman, is a renowned ice climbing venue.


Established in 1899, Gallatin National Forest is an extremely popular, year-round outdoor recreation destination. North of Yellowstone National Park, GNF is easily accessed from Bozeman, Montana, and the Absaroka, Bridger, and Crazy mountain ranges. The Gallatin National Forest’s name originates from former Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, who facilitated financing for the Louisiana Purchase.


The forest encompasses 1.8 million acres in southwestern Montana, borders Yellowstone National Park, and contains portions of the Lee Metcalf and Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness areas.

Gallatin National Forest Headquarters
P.O. Box 130
Bozeman, MT 59771
(406) 587-6701


Camping & Picnicking

Numerous campgrounds are available in Gallatin National Forest near Bozeman, Montana including:

  • Fairy Lake Campground
    Off Fairy Lake, this campground has drinking water and toilet facilities near Bridger Foothills National Recreation Trail and access to Hardscrabble and Sacagawea Peaks.
  • Red Cliff Campground
    Drinking water and toilet facilities are available. The trailhead at the south end of this Campground provides hiking access to Elkhorn Creek Trail.

Reservations for Gallatin National Forest campgrounds and picnic areas can be made online or by calling 1-877-444-6777.

Wildlife Viewing

  • Grizzly bear
  • Gray wolf
  • Bald eagle
  • Canada lynx
  • Elk
  • Bighorn sheep


Three world-class trout fishing rivers (Gallatin, Madison, and Yellowstone) originate in Gallatin National Forest drawing anglers each year to fish 1,740 miles of GNF streams and rivers and 700 alpine lakes and reservoirs.

Hiking & Biking

Trekkers and cyclists can tackle more than 2,200 miles of trails from 5,000 feet to 10,000 feet elevation. Terrain features vary from petrified forest, open meadows, and rocky outcroppings, to spectacular mountain peaks, waterfalls, clear mountain streams and lakes.

Popular GNF hikes include:

  • Hyalite Creek
    This popular trailhead is adjacent to Hyalite Creek with parking and toilet facilities at the end of Hyalite Creek Road. One trail leads to waterfalls and Hyalite Lake at the head of the canyon, and continues on for a total of about 10 miles. The 1 1/2 mile Grotto Falls trail also begins at Hyalite Creek and provides handicapped access to scenic Grotto Falls.
  • Palisade Falls National Recreation Trail
    This popular 1/2 mile trail is paved to provide easy access to the disabled, elderly and to families with young children to Palisade Falls. There is a picnic area and toilet at the trailhead, but no drinking water.
  • Bozeman Creek Trail
    This 11-mile, one-way trail hugs a logging road along Bozeman Creek to Mystic Lake which offers great rainbow and cutthroat trout fishing.

Whitewater Rafting

The Gallatin River is one of the premier whitewater rafting rivers in the west. Mountain snow melt makes early summer high water season, adding to the excitement and danger.

Snow Sports

Locals and visitors love to take advantage of the 400 inches of snow Gallatin National receives annually.

  • Skiing
    Bridger Ski Area, Lone Mountain Ranch and Bohart Ranch offer great skiing in Gallatin National Forest. Bridger Bowl caters to alpine skiers, and Lone Mountain Ranch and Bohart Ranch maintain groomed cross country and shoeshoe trails.
  • Snowmobiling
    Snowmobile trails in the West Yellowstone area open December 1 through March 31. More than 135 miles of professionally groomed trails start south of Electric Street and west of Iris Street, and north of Dunraven Street in West Yellowstone, Montana. Riders must stay on trails and non-residents must have riding permit. Call Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Advisory at 406-587-6981 for current conditions.
  • Ice Climbing
    Hyalite Canyon, a few miles south of Bozeman, is an internationally renowned ice climbing venue.

Other Gallatin National Forest Resources

Bridger Teton National Forest, Wy

Bridger Teton National Forest is located in Northwest Wyoming.

Custer Forest

National Forest area including parts of the Beartooth Mountains.