Getting the most out of the best little airport in Montana, part 1.
Having now owned two businesses that service the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport at Gallatin Field, AKA Bozeman Airport, AKA BZN I have learned a couple of tips and tricks that friends often ask that we pass on to the consumer. In this short article we will go over some of our tricks for arriving passengers. Stay tuned for another article for departing passengers.
1) If the very bump, yet beautiful decent into Gallatin Valley hasn’t gotten you excited yet, certainly the lodge styling and comfortable atmosphere of the airport will. Where else are the advertisers in the airport Simms Fishing or various Fly Shops and not Siemens or Cisco? It is a fairly long walk to baggage claim and the signage is poor, just go with the flow and you will be fine. You will descend two escalators, or an available elevator, to baggage claim. Baggage claim is nearly central to the building structure.
You will be greeted by a roaring fire in the stone fireplace as well as numerous bronzes highlighting Montana’s unique history and ecosystems. This is where a member of the Phasmid team will meet you with a placard with your name. On this main floor the following concessions are available: Copper Horse Bistro. Fair coffee and the most expensive slice of frozen pizza imaginable. They also sell other beverages and some t-shirts. You are better off biding your time to get out of the airport. There is also a Montana Gift Corral, the sell bottled drinks and souvenir items. There is also a Yellowstone Association store. We highly recommend you pay a short visit here while waiting for your luggage.
Most visitors assume that the Yellowstone Association store is just another ridiculously priced airport tourist trap. This is not true. They offer excellent maps, naturalist guides, and journals regarding Yellowstone National Park. They are also staffed predominately by volunteers who are passionate about the Park and enjoy sharing information. The highlight of the shop is the interactive map they have. This map not only highlights where certain attractions are, but also has recent updates on where wolves and bears have recently been seen. For those spending longer than a couple of days in Yellowstone, it is highly recommended to become a member for $35.00. The discounts given on park lodging far exceed cost of membership.
Carrying on… While you are waiting for your bags- which are sometimes waiting for you before you get to baggage claim, other times seemingly take forever: you can also a) use the restrooms (located underneath the escalators). 2) Send one member of your party to start waiting in line for your rental car if you haven’t booked through Phasmid. 3) Take you picture with the giant bronze bear or T-Rex skull. 4) Check out the informative hands on mammal tracking exhibit next to baggage claim 2. 5) Collect some free rack cards at the outdated information kiosk. 5) all of the above- it is a pretty small airport after all.
If your bags did not arrive: Delta is currently the only company that has a designated lost luggage counter (maybe they lose more luggage than anyone else?). This counter is located by Carousel 1. For other airlines you will need to go to the ticket counter. These are on the west side of the building. If you are facing the baggage claims turn left. Although there may not be an attendant right away, they will come eventually. Over the years our guests who have had luggage lost have always had their luggage returned in a timely manner- no matter where they are. We have had people get a bag delivered to random campgrounds on the Madison river and cabins up Bridger Canyon. So do not fret too much. Anyway, Phasmid Rentals always keeps a supply of toothbrushes and extra clothes/ gear on hand for those who are dealt a raw deal.
So now you have your bags: a) If you rented from Phasmid your team member will help you with the bags to your rental car waiting right out front (no need for a $5 cart hire or anything else).
b) If you did not rent from Phasmid: Head east young man! The rental car counters are on the east side of the building. If you have a family and/ or lots of luggage, wait in baggage claim and send the leading renter to the rental car counters only. It will likely be 10-30 minutes so get comfortable. It is highly, highly recommended you reserve your rental car in advance. Bozeman Airport car rental agencies often run out of rental cars. Assuming you have a reservation, get the keys, sign over your first born child, and pay too much for things you don’t need, and then continue east another 150-yards to the car rental parking lot. Once you locate your rental (don’t worry, it is a pretty small lot- only about 300-cars), turn right out of the rental car lot back towards the airport terminal. Stay in the righthand most lane (you are not allowed in the other lanes), and park in front of the door closest to baggage claim. Your family will hopefully still be waiting for you inside. Although Bozeman Airport security is typically incredibly nice, they have been issuing verbal warnings to people parking unattended in front of arrivals for too long. You will really want to be shaking a leg anyway, because the process to get here will have likely taken 30+ minutes by now.
(Update on renting from Phasmid: you are already on the road having collected all of the good maps and local insight you may need for a great Montana Experience) End Interlude.
Once you have your rental car loaded, start heading out the only way you can go. It is about 1-mile to get out of the airport. The road dead ends into Frontage Road. Turn left to go to Bozeman and Livingston. Right to go to Big Sky, Dillon, Twin Bridges, Belgrade, etc.
If you do not plan to rent a car we hope you have good friends in Bozeman, because the taxi services stink! Most of the major hotel chains that service the Bozeman and Belgrade area have a free airport shuttle. Make sure you contact where you are staying to confirm this and how to get the shuttle. They do NOT run regularly like most major markets.
If you are staying somewhere else and were planning to walk outside and get in line at the Taxi queue, you will be screwed. There is NO regular taxi service at the Bozeman airport. I repeat, there are no regular taxis at BZN. If you think you can walk to your hotel from the airport, you are wrong again. Frontage Road is treacherous. Perhaps the most dangerous road in America to walk along. There is also no scheduled public transportation from BZN to Bozeman (or anywhere else).
Be warned: Taxi/ Limo Fees often GREATLY exceed rental car prices or even staying at hotel with a free shuttle. Rarely will a fare be less than $50, and you will be ride sharing. Getting to big sky will easily exceed $200 each way. Check out our other recent article on transportation to Big Sky.
In conclusion: We love the Bozeman Airport. We also love all the bad and overpriced ground transportation options, mostly because we offer a good and affordable ground transportation option. Whatever way you choose to get from BZN to your end destination, you must prearrange your taxi, hotel shuttle, or rental car before you arrive at Bozeman Airport. We have seen it happen too many times where people get stuck; the next taxi available will be there in 3-hours… the hotel shuttle driver left work early… the only rental car available is $500/ day… Please, make your travel plans in advance.
As long as you pre-arrange your ground transportation from BZN, you will certainly have a great experience at our best little airport in Montana.
Set between the Gallatin and Bridger Ranges, Bozeman offers easy access to thousands of acres of Gallatin National Forest, hundreds of miles of blue-ribbon trout streams (the nearby Yellowstone and Madison Rivers are ranked among the best in the world), and three downhill ski areas, including nonprofit Bridger Bowl, just 18 miles north of town.
Between 2000 and 2012, Bozeman’s population grew more than 40 percent, and a good deal of that growth came from urban refugees seeking a smaller-city pace and daily access to the outdoors. For some, the move is part of a grand plan to finally work on that big idea. For others, new ventures are born out of necessity; in the absence of major metro jobs, many newcomers create their own.
Winters are long and cold—think average lows of 15° in February—but locals bundle up and embrace them. They flock to such events as the Wild West WinterFest (“Flakes Welcome!”), a February tradition that includes everything from a quilt show to a dog keg pull, in which Fido hauls a sled loaded with one or more kegs of beer.
Bozeman, Montana. Photograph from Flickr user Dan Nguyen.
Of course there’s a lot to like about Bozeman – a Western university town in a scenic valley rimmed by mountains, near ski slopes and fishable rivers. We have a nice downtown, a small airport that’s surprisingly well-connected, few traffic jams, and tech entrepreneurs mixing with conservationists and hipsters — and a few actual cowboys.
But any town has drawbacks, whether we’re talking Paradise, Utah, or Paradise, Calif., or Paradise, Nev., or the various versions of San Francisco and Aspen and so on. That’s why many local governments have adopted a new “Code of the West” officially warning any paradise-seeking immigrants of the problems they’ll encounter when they move in, such as – egads! – rough roads, dangerous wildfires and the aroma of cattle.
The hyped-up Top 10 lists don’t admit the drawbacks of my town. They just encourage paradise-seekers to move in – and thousands of people have apparently followed the advice by moving to Bozeman since I got here.
So, tongue in cheek, here’s my rebellion against the hype: The Top 10 Reasons Not To Move To Bozeman.
(1) Begin with the town’s name – it’s lame.John M. Bozeman was a grandiose hustler who helped establish the town in 1864, while he was promoting the “Bozeman Trail,” a dangerous shortcut for white settlers traveling through Wyoming and Idaho to Montana gold camps. John M. Bozeman hoped that his new town would “swallow up all the tenderfeet … from the east, with their golden fleeces to be taken care of,” one immigrant reported. But the whole Bozeman Trail quickly became a fiasco, as tribes including the Lakota Sioux, the Northern Cheyenne and the Northern Arapaho resisted the intrusion on their turf; within only four years or so, Native warriors wiped out 81 U.S. Army soldiers in the infamous Fetterman massacre and shut down the trail for good. As for John M. Bozeman himself, he had abandoned his wife and three young daughters in Georgia when he headed west to seek his fortune – setting the pattern for all the schemers and lone wolves who’ve come to this town since then.
John M. Bozeman had some good qualities (handsome, muscular, a crack shot). But fundamentally he was “a reckless man (who) never could see danger anywhere,” according to one of his own friends back in the 1860s. He dressed like a dandy, in “the black beaver-cloth cutaway coat and striped dress trousers favored by gamblers,” according to historians and friends, and made his living as “a speculator” who “farmed a bit, got in a few fights, gambled a lot, dreamed up business schemes, and was out of town for long periods of time.”
A new bank will be built in the field on the right, at the southeast edge of Bozeman, half a mile from any other commercial development. Photograph by Ray Ring.
John M. Bozeman’s ventures included investing in a hotel and a river ferry, and delivering mail himself between Bozeman and the Virginia City mining camp, for 50 cents per piece – shameless price gouging. “His conscience was very elastic,” a friend reported, and “to beat a man out of his wages or to neglect paying a bill or jumping a claim were matters of very little moment with him. … His faults were produced by his education, or the lack of it rather, and the social system of the South, where labor was a disgrace to a white man. (He) had no use for money except to bet with, and the most congenial place to him on earth was the saloon, with a few boon companions at a table, playing a game of draw.”
And John M. Bozeman only lasted a few years in Bozeman. At the age of 32, he was murdered – either by more hostile natives or by the jealous husband of a woman he was having an affair with. It was “the universal suspicion on the part of the husbands of the few women in town” that John Bozeman was a philanderer chasing the local married women, in the words of one historian. After he was killed, his estate wasn’t worth as much as his outstanding bills.
(2) The weather. Yes, when you mention Montana, most people understand the weather is often bad here – as in, cold. And thanks to global warming, the cold spells seem to be getting a bit warmer and less prolonged. But still. I’ve had to deal with more than a foot of heavy wet snow that fell in my yard one day in mid-June several years ago, collapsing many of my leafed-out deciduous trees and crushing the mirage of summer.
The most recent seriously cold spell, a snowstorm in early December, generated these daily low temperatures, measured at the Montana State University campus near my house (with the late sunrise this time of year, these were the below-zero temperatures you would’ve faced, if you were in Bozeman commuting to work first thing in the morning):
A recent snowstorm competes with Christmas decorations in downtown Bozeman. Photograph by Flickr user Craig Dugas.
Dec. 3 - 2 below zero F
Dec. 4 - 9 below zero
Dec. 5 - 14.2 below zero
Dec. 6 - 16.1 below zero
Dec. 7 - 19.3 below zero
Dec. 8 - 19.4 below zero
Dec. 9 - 10 below zero
Three of these days, the high temperature in late afternoon didn’t even break zero. This all came down a couple of weeks before the official beginning of winter.
(3) The movie theaters. Movies can be intellectually and emotionally stimulating, a great cultural fix and an enjoyment — but lately they’re in short supply in Bozeman. When I moved here, we had two historic downtown movie theaters and a multiplex with about a half-dozen additional screens. Then another national theater chain opened a second multiplex, adding more than a half-dozen additional screens. At that point, a wide range of new movies showed in Bozeman, beyond the standard blockbusters aimed at teen-agers and families with young kids. But since then, both downtown theaters have stopped showing movies, and one multiplex closed.
So now we’re down to only the newer multiplex, which is run by the biggest national chain, Tennessee-based Regal Entertainment Group – part of billionaire Philip Anschutz’s empire. Anschutz is a politically active conservative Christian, opposing gay rights and backing various right-wing causes, and Regal Entertainment not only seems to have his conservative philosophy, the company also seems ignorant of basic facts like, Bozeman has more than 38,000 residents, and tens of thousands more live just outside city limits. Many of the locals are intelligent adults making careers not only in the university, but also in dozens of local high-tech companies, Montana’s biggest ski resort (Big Sky), Yellowstone National Park (also nearby), or doing their own creative work in art, writing, photography, music, dance including more than one local ballet company, the local opera company, the local Shakespeare company, and so on.
Fox Searchlight Pictures poster for the new ’12 Years a Slave’ film, which has not been shown in Bozeman’s multiplex theater, even though it’s been in wide release around the country for nearly two months.
Many of those movies have already won awards and will soon be nominated for Academy Awards, but somehow they’re not appropriate for Bozeman? Or they can be shown here long after most other audiences have seen them? Give Bozeman a break, Regal Entertainment Group, or more like, give us what we’re due.
I better acknowledge, two nights per month, a small nonprofit group called the Bozeman Film Festival brings some of the ignored-by-Regal movies to an auditorium in a former school, where the screen is small and the sound can be difficult to decipher. That’s a noble effort – thanks very much, Bozeman Film Festival – but it’s not a substitute for a state-of-the-art movie theater providing longer runs in better conditions.
(4) Lack of cultural or ethnic diversity. There is none in Bozeman, unless you imagine that white ice climbers are way different from white skiers who are way different from white fly fishermen. In the whole county, 95.5 percent of the residents are white, reporting no mixed blood at all. Hispanics make up roughly 3 percent, Natives about 1 percent, blacks less than half-a-percent. So for this kind of diversity, Bozeman is very boring. Pretty much anywhere I travel, other than Wyoming, I’m always struck by how much more diverse – and interesting – other communities are.
(5) Isolation. Bozeman is a long distance from any real urban area – the nearest is the Salt Lake City metro area, roughly 430 miles away. This has to do with fact that Montana is the only state that doesn’t even border a state that has a city of one million. To get to Salt Lake City, you have to drive through hundreds of miles of Idaho. To get to Seattle, you also have to drive through Idaho, and to get to Denver, you have to drive across all of Wyoming. And so on. So when you want a city fix, it takes some doing.
(6) Wildfires. I used to tell friends who might like to visit Bozeman, the best time to come is during July and August, when the weather is most reliably good. But largely due to climate change, those months are now wildfire season, with a high risk of smoke filling the air, blocking views of the mountains and causing headaches and other health complaints. Now I tell friends who want to come during the warm weather, it’s a gamble – they might experience air quality similar to inland Los Angeles.
(7) Occasional bad land-use planning. The city and county planners based in Bozeman, and their supporters, have good intentions and would probably do more to protect the landscape and the current residents who like things as they are, but they’re constrained by local politics. They also, like all of us, make mistakes within what the politics allow.
As a result, we have a great deal of random sprawl – residential developments popping up on agricultural land outside the city, straining taxpayer-funded public services including law enforcement and road maintenance. And in the city, we have a large car wash that was allowed to wedge itself into a modern smart-growth neighborhood of houses, apartments and office buildings on North 15th Avenue, where there are no other commercial enterprises – as if the neighborhood residents would like to walk to a car wash instead of to a coffee shop or a cafe or small grocery. It’s apparently a fine car wash, but does it belong in this neighborhood?
A smart-growth neighborhood in Bozeman, interrupted by a new car wash business. Photograph by Ray Ring.
Meanwhile, at the central sports-field complex, we have an array of super bright lights on tall poles whose bothersome glare extends for miles – the opposite of the “Dark Skies” movement taking hold elsewhere in the West. Banks are being allowed to build new branches around the city’s fringes, like the one going in now, all by itself, in a streamside field on Kagy Boulevard, where horses grazed until recently (shown in a photo around #1 in this blog post) – as if we need more banks in a town already saturated with them (an indication of the affluence here).
The car wash, which has a neighborhood pedestrian crossing right in front of it. Photograph by Ray Ring.
It works like this: Under state law, the hard-liquor saloons must have state licenses. The state also limits the number of those licenses, so bidding wars erupt and a license can now cost more than $100,000. Microbreweries don’t have to buy those licenses. The Tavern Association thinks that isn’t fair, so it pressures the Montana Legislature to pass laws ordering that microbreweries can only serve their product in “tasting rooms” for limited hours – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. “Microbreweries here operate under some of the most restrictive regulations in the country,” says the head of the Montana Brewers Association. As a result, when I venture into any of the good microbreweries in the Bozeman area, last call is 8 p.m.
(9) Restaurants. Maybe due to the lack of cultural and ethnic diversity, Bozeman has no restaurants specializing in Indian food, none specializing in Ethiopian or other varieties of African food, no Peruvian or Brazilian or Spanish cuisine, and so on. We have some good restaurants, including sushi, Thai, and a co-op that serves from steamer trays, but overall Bozeman’s fare tends to be middle-of-the-road. Maybe more important, Bozeman also has no restaurant open 24/7, and the coffee shops don’t stay open late, so night owls seeking community, you’re out of luck here.
(10) The supervolcano near Bozeman. It underlies Yellowstone National Park, generating the heat for all the geysers and hotpots, and as anyone who’s watched the supervolcano documentaries on the Discovery Channel and PBS, it could erupt anytime. And when it does generate its next eruption – actually the term is supereruption, and some experts say this is “overdue” – it will obliterate Bozeman, along with ruining the whole planet’s atmosphere. So despite the influx of wealthy people driving up the prices of Bozeman real estate, our property values are really iffy, long-term.
I could list more than these Top 10 Reasons Not To Move To Bozeman, but like I said, this is long enough. And like I also said, I’m writing this tongue-in-cheek, because I do like living in Bozeman, despite the drawbacks. But those who are thinking of moving here, keep this list in mind. And fellow Bozemanites, if you’d like to chime in, please do.
Ray Ring is a senior editor of High Country News, and he is based in Bozeman. The descriptions of John M. Bozeman for this post were found in Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley: A history, by Phyllis Smith, and John M. Bozeman: Montana Trailmaker, by Merrill G. Burlingame. The list of new movies that haven’t shown in Bozeman’s multiplex theater is derived from months of the multiplex’s ads in the local newspaper.
It is always an exciting time in Bozeman when the snow arrives, and this year the snow is arriving in spades. Bridger Bowl and BIg Sky are already (as of mid-December 2013) posting base depth of four feet. This bodes well so far.
The Bozeman Airport does an excellent job dealing with oversized luggage, AKA skis and boards (hint: big bags come off last). We do have a couple of hints for winter visitors that will hopefully make your life a little easier when you are passing through.
1) Transportation to Big Sky. Options are limited. It is typically less expensive to rent a car than to take a shuttle/ taxi to Big Sky. Plus, a rental car gives you flexibility to check out different areas of town, Bozeman, and Yellowstone. It is highly, highly recommended to rent a car versus a shuttle. Here is an article about BZN Ground transportation.
2) If you are on a late flight, eat before you get to Bozeman. There are few restaurant options, other than McDonalds, on your way to Big Sky open late. The grocery store, Albertsons, is open to 1AM and on the way. If you can muster, it is worth stopping here to stock up.
3) If you have rented a car through one of the franchise companies on airport, send the primary member of the party to get pick up the car IMMEDIATELY. Lines can and will be long, and the cars are far away. Drive the car up to arrivals to pick up the rest of your party and their luggage.
4) Ski racks. On airport companies do offer ski racks on some of their rental cars. However, these are the clamp style racks. So if you are traveling with board/ ski bags plan on removing the contents to strap in. The independent car rental agency, Phasmid, offers rental roof-top ski boxes on their cars, as well as if you just want to rent a roof box. They are located about a mile from BZN and pick people up at the airport privately, right outside of arrivals, if you are renting a car from them.
5) Gear. Soft sided bags are a lot easier to pack and if you did book too small of a rental car (or got shafted with getting something you did not book) are a lot more comfortable on your lap then a suitcase! If you are tight for packing space, carry your ski boots on the plane.
6) Rental cars and the drive to Big Sky. Four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive cars are required in the winter. You may get lucky if you rent a 2WD car and the road to Big Sky is dry and safe, or you may end up with a snowy/ icey road and in the Gallatin River. They do an excellent job maintaining the road to Big Sky in winter, however, sometimes it is impossible to keep it perfect. Supposedly they stopped putting up white crosses marking where people died because there are so many already it started to freak people out.
Pony up and get a 4WD or AWD rental car.
If you book a SUV through a Bozeman airport rental car company, call and make sure 100% that the car you will be getting is 4WD or AWD. If they will not guarantee this, book a rental car through a different company. A couple of the companies have been renting 2WD Ford Escapes and Ford Explorers- veritable deathtraps in adverse driving conditions.
When you do book your rental car, book in advance as possible. Winter rental car prices in Bozeman can be insane. Don’t hesitate to think out of the box and go through an independent company off-airport. Here is a recent screen grab of Bozeman airport car rental agencies over Christmas, 2013:
6) Drive safe. If you are arriving one of the late flights and are not comfortable driving in winter conditions and/ or at night- get a hotel for the night! It is not worth the stress, or worse and accident, to race to Big Sky. Stay at a hotel in Belgrade or Bozeman and go in the morning- you won’t miss anything at all!
Buyer Beware, Unauthorized Cheap Car Rentals at Bozeman Airport
Lately we been seeing a number of unauthorized off-airport car rental agencies showing up at the Bozeman Airport. Buyer beware, although these companies may be cheap alternative car rental to the more expensive authorized on-airport (Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, Thrifty, Alamo) and authorized off-airport car rental agencies (Ressler Rent-A-Car, Journey Rent-A-Car, Phasmid Rentals) they are not legally operating on airport property. The airport is private property, and only authorized vendors are allowed to operate on-site. What this means to the consumer: your rental car may not be there when you arrive, even though the company you rented from says it will- as it may get towed or booted by airport security, or stolen (the keys are left in the vehicle).
Further, it has been brought to our attention that one of these companies is not legally renting cars- via not paying taxes, having legal insurance, or paying airport concession fees.
You can view the official Bozeman off-airport car rental agencies here, http://www.bozemanairport.com/.
Companies that have not registered with the Bozeman Airport:
UBAG cannot judge the quality of these rental car agencies, or what exactly they offer. However, we do know that ‘Cheap’ is not always the best option when it comes to safety. If you do choose to use one of these unauthorized car rental agencies in Bozeman, please for your own good make sure the cars are legally insured as rental cars and the company is obeying all local, airport, and state tax rules.
As Billings airport closes down on weekends to resurface their runway this summer, Bozeman Airport, BZN, officially takes over as the most popular airport in Montana. Not only is BZN the most trafficked airport, but also by far the coolest. Simply put, if all airports were this great we air travel would be a lot more fun!
Back in February, Matt Shirley from Flip Collective created a map of the United States based on search autocomplete. It was then featured here on Buzzfeed. While other states had descriptions like, “Broke”, “Over-rated” and “Bankrupt”, Montana stood out above the crowd with, “For Badasses”. There is even Facebook page dedicated to it here.
Montana is filled with bodies of water perfect for a wide variety of outdoor recreation. Missoula, Montana has three rivers that run through town and is the setting for the 1876 fly-fishing novella by Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through it. The book was made into an American film in 1992 directed by Robert Redford starring Brad Pitt, Craig Sheffer and Tom Skerritt. A River Runs Through It is a story of two boys growing up in Montana with a love for fly-fishing. Norman Maclean said it best in the book, “The world is full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the further one gets from Missoula, Montana.”
Montana boasts a total of 32 breweries, which puts us second (behind Vermont) in number of breweries per capita. In other words, we know our beer. Plus, with locally crafted beer with names like Moose Drool, Trout Slayer, Face Plant and Pig’s Ass Porter, you know our beer is as inspiring as Montana’s wide-open spaces.
Montana is home to two national parks–Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Both are filled with beautiful landscapes, wildlife and outdoor recreation galore. These two beauties often find themselves on the bucket list for travelers.
6. Four Seasons
Montana has all four of the original divisions of the year as determined by Mother Nature. We don’t have a “mudslide season” or a “tornado season” and the hurricanes are too far off to reach us.
Above is a photo taken in the University District in downtown Missoula, Montana. (Hot diggity dog, right?)That’s just one of the four beautiful seasons we get to experience. See more photos of Montana’s four seasons here.
Casey Anderson adopted a grizzly bear named Brutus and now they are best friends. Brutus was even the best man at Casey’s wedding. Find out more about the manbear bromance here.
8. “The Last Best Place”
Our tagline: The “Last Best Place.” Because around here, life is the way it should be. Enjoyed simply, lived fully and celebrated to the max.
Senator Max Baucus says that the US Patent and Trademark Office has agreed to permanently deny any trademark application for the well-known Montana slogan, “The Last Best Place”. One trip to Montana and you will too understand why anyone else is allowed to use the slogan. And chances are, you’ll be using it too.
Even celebrities seek refuge in Montana. Last winter Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel got engaged in Montana, according to E! Online. Even John Mayer decided to take some time and recover in Montana. During his time in Montana he redeemed himself after admitting he had been a jerk when he performed for a charity concert raising over $100,000 for local firefighters.
Not to mention many celebrities seek out summer homes in the Big Sky Country. Although many celebrities keep their secluded vacation spots a secret, locals know who those mansions on the lake shores belong to.
Back in February a Great Falls, Montana TV station’s emergency alert system was hacked and warned viewers in select counties that dead bodies are rising from their graves. The station later reported that there was no emergency, and that they are still investigating what happened.
Side note: If there ever is a zombie attack, you’ll be in good hands with our rowdy Montana residents. Montana if full of manly men (they don’t call it Mantana for nothing), sassy women and a lot of moxie.
Give Montana Your Vote
Missoula, Montana is up against Huntsville, Alabama to host the Social Media Tourism Symposium 2013 in the final round. Voting is open until 8pm, MST TODAY (April 2, 2013). Vote here on Facebook.
And while Hunstville, Alabama has a metro population of around 500,000 AKA half of our entire state’s population, Montana has heart.
Voting is now closed. A big thank you to everyone who voted.
Time to get the bear spray out as rumor has there is a rumble in the jungle. For those who are unfamiliar with bear spray, here is an article from Outside Bozeman that gives an overview. If you are a visitor to the area you have 3-options if you are going backcountry: 1) risk getting eaten by a bear. 2) Buy bear spray (about $50/ can). Please remember it is ILLEGAL to fly with bear spray on an airplane. 3) Rent bear spray. Currently Phasmid Rentals is the only company in Bozeman offering rentals
Dr. Chuck Jonkel of the University of Montana had tried everything: flashing projectiles, boat horns, even synthetic skunk spray. Then, in the early 1980s, in a triumphant moment of inspiration that would change the dynamic of human/bear relationships for all time, a clumsy student accidentally shot pepper spray at a captive grizzly. The study found its new focus.
Eventually, graduate student Dr. Carrie Hunt took over the study and began to develop a prototype repellent/deterrent device designed to be portable, inexpensive, and effective. Though it repelled bears 100% of the time and generated no aggressive responses, the spray had considerable disadvantages: it was unpredictable, it required the user to be within six feet of a bear, and its stream was only pencil-thin.
Then, in 1982, Bill Pounds (who would go on to found Counter Assault bear deterrent) contacted Dr. Hunt about her study. He wanted to help by developing a canister with longer spray duration and distance, and a megaphone-shaped cloud to cover a more area. During these studies, the recommendations for bear spray performance standards were set; today the EPA regulates those standards, both for effectiveness and humaneness. After years of work, modern bear spray was born.
But as the saying goes, “this stuff ain’t brains in a can.” Bear spray should be used as a last resort—without the proper safety techniques to avoid an attack in the first place, you might as well strap a New York strip to your forehead. That’s not to say that bears want to attack you; on the contrary, bears are normally shy and only act aggressively as a last resort.
Bottom line: if you want to live, do your research and don’t be dumb. Here are some FAQs to help you understand that peppery potion.
Q: What exactly is bear spray?
A: The active ingredient in bear spray is capsaicin, an oily substance derived from the same peppers used in spicy foods. When inhaled or touched, it temporarily restricts breathing, causes nausea, tearing, burning, and eye swelling. EPA standards require that the spray contain 1%-2% capsaicin, weigh at least 7.9 ounces, be in a shotgun-cloud pattern, deliver a minimum range of 25 feet, spray for at least six seconds, and be derived from OC.
Q: Is it safe?
A: Yes—it’s EPA-approved to be nonlethal. The effects usually diminish within an hour of contact for both humans and bears, and it causes no permanent damage; plus, the canisters are free of ozone-depleting chemicals. However, people with asthma have a higher risk of death, and repeated use (or misuse) can permanently damage the eyes. If you do come into contact with bear spray, submerge the affected areas in water, relax, and just wait it out—believe me, it’s not gonna be fun.
Q: How do I use it?
A: As with any other weapon, practice makes perfect. First-timers should give it a couple test sprays to practice control; just remember that every test spray reduces that canister’s remaining spray time. Keep it in an easily accessible place, like a chest or hip holster, and keep it next to a flashlight in your tent at night. Use it only as a deterrent, not as a repellent (not as obvious to some as it may seem…), and carefully read the instructions on the canister. Keep an eye on the expiration date, and buy another can right away—better safe than sorry.
There’s a lot more you need to know about bear spray before you’re not dumb. Here are some good resources:
As the busy summer car-rental season begins, prices are expected to climb. “In early June through the end of August, these rates will spike,” said Neil Abrams, president of Abrams Consulting Group, which tracks the car rental industry. Last July, for example, the average rate for a weekly airport rental of a compact car booked seven days ahead was $369.62, or 56 percent more than the $236.73 charged in March, according to the Abrams Travel Data Index. Here are some tips to keep costs down.
Let go of name brands. Look beyond Avis, Hertz and other big national chains to independent agencies like Payless and Fox Rent a Car. Because of lower operating costs, their cars, which can be found at Web sites like CarRentals.com and CarRentalExpress.com, typically cost 15 to 30 percent less than rentals from mainstream agencies. Another company with an unfamiliar name, at least to most Americans, is the German agency Sixt, which has begun opening branches in the southeastern United States, including in Atlanta, Miami and Orlando, Fla. To boost brand recognition, the company, whose fleet includes BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes and Volkswagens, is offering deep discounts. For example, a Mercedes C-class cost $38.81 a day in late May at Sixt’s Orlando airport location, according to a recent search. By comparison, the lowest rate offered by Hertz for the same dates was $50.57 a day for a Kia Rio or similar economy car.
Dig for virtual discounts. Search for discounts and coupons on sites like Promotionalcodes.com and CouponWinner.com, or type in the name of a rental company and “coupon code” into Google to see what turns up. Rental car companies offer discount codes to members of frequent flier programs, and other organizations they partner with, including AAA, Costco and BJ’s, so check those sites if you’re a member. But don’t stop there. Most major car rental companies allow you to combine discount codes with a coupon code. For example, a full-size car from Hertz over Memorial Day weekend at Washington Dulles airport was $255.71 in a recent search. Plugging in the discount code 62455 for United Airlines frequent fliers and Hertz’s promotional coupon code, 168210, brought the price down to $160.02.
Track rates through Autoslash.com. This site, which continually checks for lower rates and coupons until your trip date, can be used in one of two ways: You can track the price of a rental booked elsewhere, or you can book directly through Autoslash, which currently works with Payless, Sixt, Fox and E-Z Rent-A-Car, and the site will apply any discounts it finds.
The drawback with the second option is limited inventory. Major companies don’t like the idea that Autoslash capitalizes on the fact that consumers can usually change or cancel car reservations at any time without penalty. Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, as well as Hertz and Advantage, recently pulled its inventory from the site, as my colleague Ron Lieber recently reported. Enterprise, which owns National and Alamo, won’t let AutoSlash list its cars either.
Avoid the airport. Off-airport locations are typically cheaper than airport locations, which tend to tack on fees that can raise the price by 30 percent or more. For example, a compact rental from Hertz at Boston Logan International Airport over the Fourth of July weekend was recently listed at $50.49 a day, or $219 a week with taxes at Carrentals.com, a unit of Hotwire. By taking the subway to the Arlington stop and walking a couple of blocks to the local Hertz lot, a traveler could cut costs to $39.98 a day, or $146.65 with taxes for the week.
Reserve the car for longer than you need it. This may sound counterintuitive, but tacking an extra day on to that weekly rental or even adding a couple of hours to extend it over a weekend — with no intention of returning the car that late — can actually lower your rate. The strategy takes advantage of lower prices aimed at leisure travelers who are more likely to travel on weekends, said Marty Paz, a telecommunications manager from Las Vegas who has become something of a car rental pricing sleuth since he began avidly renting cars to pad his frequent flier account. (Last year alone he rented more than 100 vehicles, accumulating a quarter-million miles.)
Mr. Paz said you are essentially tricking the system into thinking you’re booking a two-day weekend rental, which typically has a lower base rate, with the goal of returning the car early. For example, the rate for a midsize car rental from Alamo at the Las Vegas International Airport, from noon on Thursday, June 7, to noon on Friday was recently listed on Alamo’s Web site for $35.95 (or a base rate of $27.27 plus $11.41 in taxes and fees). But extending the return time to 2 p.m. — two hours after the weekend rates “officially” kick in — drops the base rate to $15.18 a day. Though the overall estimated cost shows an additional $10.12 extra in hourly charges, you can still return the car at noon and get the lower rate, said Mr. Paz, who added, “Oops, you got there early.”
Negotiate. Even after you’ve booked the best possible rate, it can be worth swinging by the rental counter to see if you can finagle your way into a better car. “You don’t ask, you don’t get,” said Mr. Abrams, the rental car consultant. Success with this strategy can depend on everything from the type and number of cars on the lot to the mood of the clerk, he added. But some companies are happy to put you in a bigger, or less popular, vehicle for the cost of a compact — if it’s in their interest.
“I frequently need minivans for the volunteer activities I do with teens,” said Marty Paz, the car-rental rate hacker, who has noticed by perusing the parking lot that there is often a glut of minivans at one location he frequently rents from on the weekend. “Often times I’ve reserved an economy car for a Friday and just offered graciously: ‘If there’s a van, I’ll take that. I don’t mind,’ and for the price of the economy car I get the minivan.” (A larger vehicle, of course, will require more fuel.)
Prepay. Taking a page from hotels, rental car companies are offering discounts of up to 20 percent to travelers willing to prepay. In a recent search for weekly rentals at Boston Logan International Airport in mid June, for example, Hertz was offering economy cars for $173 a week at the “pay now” rate. The “pay later” rate was about $30 more. The trade off for locking in a low-rate? Cancellation penalties ranging from $10 with Budget to $50 if canceling within 24 hours with Hertz. And don’t forget about Priceline.com and Hotwire.com, which offer deep discounts to travelers willing to be locked into a preset price before finding out the rental car company.
2/14/13, the Hufffington Post rated Bozeman as one of the top 5 International gay travel destinations. There are some faults in the brief blog post from, namely the tow mentioned local businesses, The Robin and Boodles, have been out of business for over 3-years. Oh well, glad to see that Bozeman is getting some well deserved press for being as open-minded and welcoming as we actually are. One thing the blog post did have right and that is “the whole point of being in Bozeman is not being in Bozeman.” Check out the full Huffington Post article.
As we recommend to all visitors who come to Bozeman, go downtown and visit the wonderful, locally owned shops on Main street. Spend an evening on the town- eat at Montana Ale Works or the Emerson or somewhere else local, have drinks at the Baccus or Plonk- then get out of town. Bozeman is a very cosmopolitan town and has many wonderful offerings- by Montana standards. Chances are if you are a visitor to Bozeman you have better restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and music then we do here. However, this is not why you come to Bozeman. You come to enjoy the spectacular offerings you do not have at home: mountains, skiing, Yellowstone National Park, rivers, lakes, etc. Get out and enjoy!
P.S. Having hosted a number of my gay friends in Bozeman, singles be warned, there are not many other singles out there and you have to look hard to find.
Information and resources for visitors to BZN, Bozeman, Big Sky, and Yellowstone