Bozeman Tourist Tips: Patience and No Left Turns
Visiting Bozeman this summer? Help me help you. I'm not here to beat up on the tourists that are so vital to our local economy, but I AM here to make your vacation a bit more hassle-free, for those of us who are already dealing with an enormous influx of new residents.
We're ALL experiencing Gallatin County's growing pains. This place has become so busy that commute times are now a thing and congested city side streets have become accident alleys. Growth and popularity does have its perks but it's also a massive pain in the ass.
That cliché bumper sticker phrase "Did You Move Here To Be In A Hurry?" pops in my head all the time. It applies to locals and tourists alike, in my opinion.
I want you to enjoy yourself on vacation. I want you to be safe, have fun, and appreciate all the cool stuff there is to do here. But before you head out, humor me and consider the following:
- Bozeman is having growing pains and she's a little grouchy - This is very real and I just want to give you a heads up. Our patience is a little thin, especially after the last couple years of COVID-19 and politics. Bozeman's 'middle class' (whatever that is anymore) can't find affordable housing or anything close to it. People are genuinely stressed out. Try not to poke the bear.
- (Don't believe me? Go ahead and ask a mildly silly/ignorant question on any Bozeman-centric Facebook group and see what happens.)
- If you're not good at parallel parking, just use the parking garage - I'm actually quite proud of our parking garage. We need another one, to be honest. It's 2 hours of free parking and easy to get into. (26 East Mendenhall).
- I-90 Bozeman to Livingston gets VERY windy, and has tons of semi-truck traffic - Throw in some road construction and you've got yourself a pretty dangerous stretch of road. Just slow down...and give the truckers some space. (Even if they're doing something wrong, your vehicle isn't going to win an argument with a semi.) Stay safe and avoid their blind spots.
- There are gas stations and Quickie Marts ALL OVER THE PLACE - Seriously. You're not far from another gas station or a soda and some chips. Look across the street...there's probably another one. You don't need to sit in line 3 deep at the pump.
- Left turns are NOT your friend around here - Especially in downtown Bozeman. Unless you're at a major intersection with a lead arrow, just don't do it. Trust me. Everyone behind you (tourist or local) will be cursing your name.
- Main Street is flanked by one-way streets - They can be very useful in downtown Bozeman BUT...they're narrow, have lots of pedestrian crossings and are being constantly fed with turn-on traffic. Please don't speed on the one-way streets. It's a recipe for disaster. If someone in front of you is driving slowly, it's probably for a good reason.
I'm not trying to be a nag. It's just a crazy busy summer season already and it has just begun. I'm mildly terrified how things are going to flow in July and August. But while you're here, take it easy and enjoy the town. Respect the environment. Forgive some stressed out locals. We're doing our best...most of us need a vacation too.