Private Snowcoach Tour of West Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is an iconic destination, one I have had the privilege of visiting in the summer months when the wildlife is plentiful and the tourists abound. But, I had never visited it during the winter when a thick coat of snow coats the landscape, making for an ethereal experience with the thick plumes of steam dotting the horizon.

Photo Jan 10, 7 13 09 PM.jpg

In January, Nick and I had the chance to take a private snow coach tour of the park courtesy of Visit Montana* and it was an incredible treat! We walked through geyser basins, watched the bison play, caught Old Faithful going off two times, and enjoyed the comfort and warmth of the coach as we transitioned from place to place.

Things to consider:

  1. Your guide will check in with you upon entering the park to see what type of adventure you’re interested in having. It’s a good idea to do a little research before you hit the trail so you can prioritize your destinations, whether that’s strolling through steamy plumes, visiting Old Faithful, or getting a little further on foot for views of Grand Prismatic Hot Springs in the snow.

  2. Feel free to load up on layers and snacks. You’ll have ample storage inside the snowcat for backpacks and snacks so bring layers you can take on and off as you hop in and out, and snacks for the day. You can also purchase snacks and keepsakes at the Old Faithful lodge if you make it that way!

  3. To the point above, bring your wallet! Your guide isn’t responsible for purchasing additional items for you!

  4. If you’re lucky, you’ll see plentiful wildlife while you’re out and about. Listen to your guide and maintain a safe distance between you and any animals you come upon while visiting. This is for your safety and the safety of the animals. A long lens is recommended for snapping photos from the safety of the snowcat.

That’s the long and the short of it! Get out there for your own adventure and let me know how it goes!

*The Montana State Tourism Board sponsored the trip, but has not asked me to create this content. I had such an amazing time and the experience was phenomenal so I want to share about it a little more.

Winter Fly Fishing in Paradise Valley

I have long been enchanted by fly fishing. There’s something about the graceful arc of a line cutting through the air that speaks of peace and contentment. Despite my interest, I have never had the opportunity to give it a try until this year.


On a recent trip with Visit Montana*, my friend Nick Lake and I found ourselves at the Montana Anglers office early one morning, steaming cups of coffee from Treeline in hand. That’s where we met Bill, our delightful teacher and guide for the day. He set the tone for the day by introducing himself as short in stature but tall in experience, an we immediately knew we were in for a blast!

After sorting out gear and licenses, we loaded up the truck with waders, boots, poles, tackle, and lunch and began our drive. Eventually we pulled into the gate to De Puy Spring Creek, a privately owned piece of heaven in the Paradise Valley. After checking in, Bill picked our first spot based on some sort of magical fish knowledge and we jumped in! Bill taught us the basics of casting, mending, presenting, and setting our lines so they floated naturally downstream in the hope of enticing a fish. We quickly fell into the rhythm, finding it peaceful and quite cozy in the bright sunshine.

Shortly thereafter, I CAUGHT MY FIRST FISH AND HOLY HECK I WAS SO EXCITED! I landed a beautiful rainbow trout, which Bill netted so we could gently disentangle it from the line. We snapped a few pics, making sure to keep the beautiful fish partially submerged, then set it free back into the crystalline waters of the creek. After a few hours of fishing, we nestled into one of the many warming huts on the property for a delicious lunch and chats with a local named Steve who regaled us with stories about his ducks and life growing up in Montana. When we were full and toasty, we picked a new location and got back to it. The rest of the day passed in a golden haze and when the sun finally began to sink below the mountains, we packed up and called it a day. Nick ultimately caught the most fish, with 5 to his name, while I caught the most salad. I left feeling pretty proud of my catches and I am happy to report that I’m currently planning 2 different fly fishing trips because I caught the fever, pun intended.

A few things to consider if you’re thinking of giving it a try:

  1. You’ll need to purchase a fishing permit. You can do it in person at Montana Anglers or online. We found it much easier to do in person truth be told!

  2. Bring layers! In the winter, it can get pretty chilly so you’ll want a solid base layer to wear under your waders to stay warm. I wore full body wool base layers, wool socks, down pants, and a down puffy underneath my waders with a baseball cap and thin beanie and I was set!

  3. Bring your camera! The fish are as beautiful as the surroundings and you may want to take a few photos before you release the fish back into the creek!

  4. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! Make sure you get the backs of your hands and the underside of your sun to protect against bounceback from the water!

  5. Don’t forget your sunglasses, polarized if possible. You’ll want to protect your eyes and this will help you see the fish under the water!

That’s the long and the short of it! I hope you all have the chance to get out there and get after it. And, if you have other must-see fly fishing destinations, I am all ears!

*The Montana State Tourism Board sponsored the trip, but has not asked me to create this content. I had such an amazing time and the experience was phenomenal so I want to share about it and I can’t recommend Bill from Montana Anglers strongly enough.

Winter Ice Climbing in Hyalite Canyon

In 2013 I tried my hand at ice climbing a few times and absolutely loved it.  I found the experience exhilarating and wanted to give it another shot, but life got in the way. So, imagine my stoke upon seeing it as an option on a recent trip to Visit Montana with my friend and badass photographer Nick Lake. Spoiler alert: it was HIGH and yes, that’s a climbing pun.

Photo Jan 07, 6 17 05 PM.jpg

Nick and I filled our packs with snacks and layers galore, then headed to the Spire Climbing Center in Bozeman to meet up with Sam, owner and guide extraordinaire from Montana Alpine Guides. After borrowing some necessary gear and chatting about our objectives and skill levels, we hit the road for the beautiful drive into Hyalite Canyon. Hyalite Canyon is home to the largest concentration of naturally occurring ice in the lower 48 and it’s incredibly beautiful to boot.

From the parking lot, we hiked up the hill for about 30 minutes or so to Mummy 2/Scepter area. Sam went over some fundamentals with us, and shortly thereafter the fun began. Nothing makes you feel quite as badass as swinging tools into a frozen waterfall and hearing that refreshing “THUNK” when it sinks in. Pair that feeling of power with the ruggedly beautiful landscape and the occasional blast of spindrift to the face and you have my idea of a perfect day!

Photo Jan 07, 6 16 53 PM (1).jpg
Photo Jan 07, 5 18 14 PM.jpg

A few things to consider:

  1. Montana Alpine Guides can provide you with all the technical gear you need, so don’t worry about flying with mountaineering boots or crampons. Save the luggage space for layers and room to bring back some souvenirs!

  2. While some familiarity with basic climbing principles (tying in, belaying, etc.) is useful, you don’t need a ton of experience to get out and have an amazing day. Simply communicate your skill level and experience to your guide and they will make sure to pick terrain that will be fun and comfortable for you!

  3. You will be responsible for bringing certain items of clothing! Your guides will send you a list, but I want to emphasize the importance of layers so you can bulk up when you’re done climbing to stay warm and dry! I also highly recommend bringing a thermos of some hot tea, soup, or broth. Trust me, you’ll be thankful for it!

  4. Winter Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics apply. That means packing out all food and human waste. If you’re not sure how to do the latter, check out my blog about how to do your business outside!

I hope you have the chance to get after some ice if you visit Montana this winter! If you do, I highly recommend a post-climb dinner at Bridger Brewing where the beers are gluten removed, the food is delicious, and the staff will take incredible care of you!

Let me know how it goes if you make it, I would love to hear more!

Note: The Montana State Tourism Board sponsored the trip, but has not asked me to create this content. I just had such an amazing time that I decided to spray about it via blog post because the experience was phenomenal and I can’t recommend Sam from Montana Alpine Guides strongly enough.