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Multi-day trip report for Belgrade and Bozeman

Raleigh, North...
Level Contributor
1,001 posts
151 reviews
56 helpful votes
Multi-day trip report for Belgrade and Bozeman

Our trip was for attending a wedding at Roys Red Barn in Belgrade. We added a couple of days each side of the event for a little exploring of the area.

Lodging: We stayed at the LaQuinta Inn. Do NOT follow that lead....the advertised hot tub;

the "Bright Side Breakfast" with waffles and eggs, etc, and Bright Side Market do not exist; the management refused to honor our confirmed room rate, and there was no compensation or even an apology for the absence of hot water 2 of our 3 mornings. The condition of the hotel is nowhere near upper mid-grade, and there is nothing elevated about the experience we encountered. The current advertised room rate is nearly $400/night, yet the hallway walls are full of gouges and un-painted patching attempts, the carpet has stains of dubious origin given the presence of dogs in the hotel, the paint in our bathroom was peeling from around shower and the door; just a myriad of poor maintenance issues that made the place feel more like " just a notch above seedy" instead of a major hotel brand's upper mid-level property ( as described on corporate website). The glass over the entry foyer is held together with clear packing tape, for Heaven's sake!!! At one time it may have deserved the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence and the 4 and 5 star review ratings one can see on the booking sites, but at this time in 2021, it is just a skip above being a dump.

The good news is that we had several very good dining experiences!

Bar 3 Barbecue was delicious and our server was excellent. The servings were generous, the ambience was very comfortable and it seems to be a favorite of local residents. Definitely recommend.

Red Tractor Pizza- actually in Bozeman, but its not far away from Belgrade. Very fun spot with live music on a weeknight, very reasonable pricing, great variety of pizza offerings and ability to accommodate a large group of 12, if a bit awkwardly due to tables being on wine barrels and round. Would definitely recommend for any casual gathering.

Montana Ale Works- also in Bozeman; a very big facility that works very efficiently considering its size. We had 14 people in our group and all the meals were served within a 5 minute arc, so no one had to wait for their food- an amazing feat in my opinion. Food was good, apparently the meatloaf is exceptional, and adult beverages were full pours and fairly priced. Many families dined at the same time as our group, and being a big place things got a pretty noisy, but all-in-all a good experience and I would recommend it for any casual occasion but not an intimate meal.

We went to Big Sky for an excursion one day. The trip took about 45 minutes along the Gallatin River on hwy 191, and the scenery was lovely. Lots of fishermen could be seen out in the water, as well as rafting company floats lazing their way along the water. There are plenty of places to pull off the road and take in the views safely. In Big Sky, we grabbed a lunch to go from Scissor Bills and took the lift up to 8800' elevation point. The lunch was just sandwiches, but they were very good . The lift ride was fun and breathtaking scenery was everywhere. It is unfortunate that the area is inundated with smoke from the wildfires in the state because that does impact your vistas, but one can still appreciate the grandeur of the mountains.

The wedding was at Roys Red Barn in Belgrade- a lovely place for a wedding, with lodging available on site. This is a working farm, and the barn venue is an authentic 1800's structure

with lots of character. The hay loft was used for dancing after the ceremony, and dinner was served on the first floor where the stalls and tack room are intact. There is a little brook running through the property which adds a huge element of "quaintness" to the ambience, and the area adjacent to the barn offers plenty of space for an outdoor ceremony- there were nearly 100 people at our event and there was no sense of feeling crowded.

Our next adventure was a photo safari down to West Yellowstone via hwy 191; returning via hwy

287 to Ennis; (a charming village with some great looking shops and a Distillery that is open on Sunday for tastings), and Norris, then cutting back to Bozeman on hwy 84. We had lunch at The Outpost restaurant, which was ok, but not special in any way, and browsed in shops along the street. The "tourist shop" type stores are everywhere, but I guess that is to be expected in a gateway town to a major destination like Yellowstone Park; we didn't spend a lot of time here so I can't say if there are specialty stores with less of that tourist trap vibe elsewhere in town.

The photo portion of the safari was a bust, unfortunately...I'm sure that the mountain goats, moose and bears were all around somewhere, but it wasn't my day to get to see them. That is the downside of having to keep a schedule when you're out on a picture-taking adventure--you don't get to hang out for a spell to allow the wildlife to come to you, and you don't have time to go look for them!

Its just 9 miles or so between Bozeman and Belgrade, so going back and forth was not particularly inconvenient. With so many people attending the wedding, we were spread out between the two towns, but it was no problem to make plans to get together in either place.

The trip to West Yellowstone took a smidge over an hour, and we did not have any traffic back ups , but remember that if your plan is taking you into Yellowstone Park, you still have to get to Madison and the park gate, which could add some significant time if there is a crowd going into the park.

I would definitely consider either Belgrade or Bozeman for lodging if I were visiting Yellowstone. Though its a little out of the way, that separation can work to your advantage. I would definitely not choose the LaQuinta for lodging, but Holiday Inn and another name brand place which I can't think of at the moment are right there and handy to the interstate. There is a great little liquor store in the shopping center with Albertson's with a good selection and prices that we felt were not out of bounds.

Downtown Belgrade only consists of a few blocks, but there were some really fun-looking shops and 2 other restaurants that are highly recommended- The Local, and the Mint Club ( I think that's right...Mint something) and they looked busy and interesting when we drove by- had we not been obligated elsewhere, we would have tried both.

Getting to the airport was easy, and the Bozeman airport is not difficult to navigate. The TSA screening is upstairs, so it keeps the crowding from overtaking the lobby/entrance areas. We had lunch/breakfast at The Copper Horse up there, and found the food to be very tasty, served quickly and priced reasonably compared to most airport restaurant experiences that we have had. Servers were masked, as mandated for airport properties. I would have liked to see more attention to restroom care, given the current situation; clean bathrooms should be a priority but I do understand that getting workers has been a problem in most service-oriented fields lately.

That sums up our adventure. I hope this will give some guidance for those who read it,

4 replies to this topic
Spery, Iowa
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
31,565 posts
194 reviews
85 helpful votes
1. Re: Multi-day trip report for Belgrade and Bozeman

Thanks for the information, sounds like a lovely place for a wedding!

"I would definitely consider either Belgrade or Bozeman for lodging if I were visiting Yellowstone. Though its a little out of the way, that separation can work to your advantage. " I'm not sure I understand? You didn't visit Yellowstone on this trip, correct? What do you see as the advantage to staying so far away from the park?

The information of food places is helpful, as is the review of the icky hotel! Thanks for sharing.

Raleigh, North...
Level Contributor
1,001 posts
151 reviews
56 helpful votes
2. Re: Multi-day trip report for Belgrade and Bozeman

That is correct, we did not actually enter Yellowstone this visit. The advantages included- gas was a bit less expensive away from the park, the crowds were less intense, and things just seem calmer in general. Gardiner may be a bit closer than West Yellowstone as an entry point, I'm not sure and don't have my map at hand, to confirm, but with the gorgeous scenery to enjoy on the drive over, even an hour just doesn't seem that long.

Its a personal comfort zone thing, I suppose, and I just wanted to mention that it would be a very doable option in case someone was in a quandary about lodging. I think I would be of a different opinion if we were talking about a mid-winter trip, but its summertime, so....this worked for me . ;)

Fremont, California
Level Contributor
160,241 posts
8,714 reviews
4,258 helpful votes
3. Re: Multi-day trip report for Belgrade and Bozeman

thanks for your report about your trip and wedding.

Level Contributor
320 posts
1 review
2 helpful votes
4. Re: Multi-day trip report for Belgrade and Bozeman

Thanks for the report and glad you enjoyed your trip. I do not agree though that Bozeman or Belgrade make a good location for touring Yellowstone National Park.

"The trip to West Yellowstone took a smidge over an hour, and we did not have any traffic back ups , but remember that if your plan is taking you into Yellowstone Park, you still have to get to Madison and the park gate, which could add some significant time if there is a crowd going into the park.

I would definitely consider either Belgrade or Bozeman for lodging if I were visiting Yellowstone."

It is 90 miles from either Belgrade or Bozeman to West Yellowstone with a speed limit of 65mph much of the way and 55mph through 20 miles of road inside Yellowstone's boundary. I have no idea how you made it in a smidge over an hour, perhaps you were just incredibly lucky. Regardless I suggest most people allow closer to 2 hours for this drive on the average summer day. Then expect another 45 minutes to get through the west gate, then up to another hour or two to get to Old Faithful.

Edited: 2 years ago
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