True adventurers seek out the experiences only pure nature can provide. The Gallatin National Forest is such a place, where glampers need not apply. Stretching over 1.8 million acres of land in Southern Montana and Northwest South Dakota, this pawrifically preserved forest boasts seven ranger districts, portions of the two wilderness areas of Lee Metcalf and Absaroka-Beartooth, and is a gateway into the Yellowstone National Park.
This ecologically diverse forest attracts nature lovers and explorers alike to its pristine wilderness areas. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, you can spot golden eagles, bald eagles, and several hawks in the air, or gray wolves, grizzly bears or black bears on land. No matter what you do in the forest, always carry bear spray, be food aware and know how to react if you come into contact with these large predators.
With rugged mountains, sandstone outcroppings, forests and waterways, there is an endless amount of pawpportunities here. Learn the skills needed for conserving a historic ranch at the OTO Dude Ranch. Swim, fish or boat on the many lakes, rivers and creeks throughout various districts. In the colder months, cross-country and downhill skiing, and snowmobiling are pupular. The six mountain ranges attract mountain climbers.
Over two thousand miles of trails throughout the forest are woofderful for the day hiker, or the serious backpacker. With so many routes available, you can customize the right adventure that's pawfect for you and your doggo. Maps for each ranger district can be purchased in digital or print copies, and range from $9 to $14. Bozeman and Beartooth Ranger Districts both offer plenty of trails to explore. There's also lots of ways to extend the adventure with 44 campgrounds, 24 cabins, and dispersed camping available.
Dogs are certainly welcome in the Gallatin National Forest, but do have a few restrictions. Always have your dog with you and never leave them alone, even if in a vehicle or tent. Bring all the essentials for a safe and fun experience, including drinking water, food and clean-up bags. Practice leave no trace principles and pick up after your pup. If you have food with you, always practice safe food storage in bear country.
Most importantly, keep your dog on a leash no longer than 6 feet. When on some trails and in the backcountry, your dog can go off leash if they are good under voice command. This is not the place to let your dog roam without you. Your dog does need to be leashed at all times in developed areas, which include picnic areas, restrooms, developed campgrounds, roads, parking areas, fish cleaning stations, buildings, boat docks and marinas, and play areas. They also need to be leashed at trailheads, on day use trails, and on all trails when approaching other hikers, bikers, or horseback riders, so always keep that leash on hand and ready to go.
When you and your pup truly want to feel part of nature, head to the gorgeous Gallatin National Forest!