Bozeman, Mont.: Big, Technicolor Skies

Located in the "big sky country" of Montana's Gallatin Valley, Bozeman is home to Montana State University and the Museum of the Rockies, with its huge collection of dinosaur remains. Its residents appreciate both cultural amenities and wide open spaces.

  • Western traditions live on at the Bozeman Stampede.
    Photo by Sean Sperry/Bozeman Daily Chronicle
  • Bozeman, Mont., enjoys a front-row seat to Big Sky Country.
    Photo by Kelly Gorham/Montana State University

Each year, MOTHER EARTH NEWS selects a handful of sustainable communities to highlight in our annual Great Places feature. Check out the other towns featured in our 2014 installment: 8 Great Places You’ve (Maybe) Never Heard Of.

Bozeman, Montana. It’s one of those cities people visit for the skiing or hiking, or just for the spectacular mountain views, and never want to leave. The region’s rugged Western vibe makes the past almost palpable, and one can easily imagine the Shoshone, Arapaho, Lakota and other native people who once ranged and rendezvoused in the region. Equally easy to imagine are the prospectors and settlers who flooded the Montana Territory gold fields and the cattle drives that delivered huge herds to Gallatin Valley.

Bozeman sits on a high plain surrounded by six mountain ranges. It is about 90 miles from Yellowstone National Park and home to Montana State University (MSU), the community’s largest employer. Numerous high-tech and biotech companies now call Bozeman home, as do the Gibson Guitar corporation, Planet Natural gardening supplies and Simms Fishing Products. Radiant Engineering began there as a solar-energy company in the 1970s, and it now sells its patented energy-saving inventions worldwide.

“As a new student at MSU in 1970, I was stunned by the Technicolor sunsets that fill the sky and light up the Bridger Mountains with alpenglow,” says resident Alice Flynn. “This town has carefully maintained its historic homes, and people all over town avidly grow flowers and gardens that show their pride. It is walkable, lively and, winter or summer, people gather in the heart of downtown.”

With one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country (about 3 percent) and predictions of expanding job growth, Bozeman’s economy is humming along. Housing is at a premium and creative boomtown lodging solutions are a part of the Bozeman story.

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