Tips for Sustainable Travel to Montana's Yellowstone Country
Montana's Yellowstone Country has always been a draw to visitors wanting to experience the outdoors. But its popularity continues to grow without seeming to slow down, and being mindful of our impacts is more critical than ever.
Sustainable tourism is more than just being environmentally friendly. It's about balancing economic growth, human well-being and environmental health. It focuses on reducing the negative impacts tourism can have and maximizing the positive benefits (both immediate and long-term) for communities. Our goal is for residents and visitors to work toward preserving this extraordinary part of Montana.
Step Off the Beaten Path
Overtourism is a real issue, but there are ways to mitigate it. If you're visiting Yellowstone National Park, get off the beaten path. The Park's highlights will always be busy in the summer, but you'll have more elbow room if you adjust your trip to a shoulder season. During busy times, you can also opt for trails and sites that are less frequented. Please explore the areas around our gateway towns and beyond. Some of our favorite places are in the far nooks and crannies of the region; communities such as Big Timber, Joliet, Absarokee, Fishtail, and Nye are all worth exploring, and all take you away from the bustle of bigger towns such as Bozeman. Take the time to talk to the locals over a cold beer; you'll likely get some trip suggestions you won't readily find in the guidebooks.
Extend Your Stay
If you live far away, you might consider taking a more extended trip instead of several shorter ones. It is better for the planet and gives you time to settle in, immerse yourself in local culture, and garner an appreciation of the area.
By building idle time into their itinerary, the sage traveler can slow down to learn about the place they’re visiting from the people who call it home and begin to respect their way of life. The Montana way includes giving people a wave if you pass in your car and a smile if it's on the street. A more extended trip also allows you to see more of the area. Our region is vast, and the towns each have unique personalities worth experiencing.
Support Local Businesses
Buy local. You'll be surprised how many quality stores are tucked away in these little mountain towns. You can shop at the box stores anywhere, but you won't find the kind of unique treasures that you will see from these local purveyors. Many of our local restaurants source what they can locally, and the quality of the meats, produce, baked goods and handcrafted products taste far better than commercially grown food.
Other things you can do include bringing a water bottle you can refill, don't use plastic straws, turn down lights, air conditioning or heating when you leave, and be mindful of how much water you use. Stay hydrated, but please be conscious that the more people move to and visit our region, the more strain on the water supply.
Ditch the Car
Walk or bike whenever you can. There are many walkable downtowns in YC, and hotels often offer complimentary bikes to use during your stay in bigger areas such as Bozeman.
Respect our Natural Spaces
Typical rules apply here:
- Pack it in, pack it out
- Clean up animal waste
- Stay on the trail
- Be kind to others
Together, we can maintain Montana's beauty and make it an exceptional place for all to share.