Keeping the road open for everyone.
Hyalite Canyon is one of the most utilized and loved canyons in Montana. Locals and travelers flock to Hyalite each winter for every activity imaginable: sledding, Christmas tree hunting, ice fishing, snowmobiling, backcountry skiing, and of course, ice climbing. The canyon offers something for everyone, but for ice climbers it is a uniquely special place.
Prior to 2007, the road into Hyalite was not plowed in the winter. This meant access into the canyon was restricted to early season, low-snow years, or to climbers with monster trucks, snowmobiles, or the tenacity to ski for hours to reach the ice. These years are fondly remembered as the “Hyalite Rodeo,” when getting there was as much of an adventure as the climbing. These days, thanks to cooperation between Gallatin County, the Gallatin National Forest, and the money raised by the Friends of Hyalite organization and the Bozeman Ice Festival, the road is now kept open until April 1, when they close the gate for spring break-up.
From December through March of the 2012-13 season, more than 18,500 people visited Hyalite each month. With the average annual plowing cost of $24,000 shared between the county and USFS, it’s no surprise that budgets are shrinking, making contributions from Friends of Hyalite and the Bozeman Ice Festival ever more important. According to the Forest Travel Plan, if plowing were to stop the road WOULD BE GATED at the bottom, closing Hyalite ice to everyone except those willing to ski over 13 miles as an approach. Now more than ever, the Friends of Hyalite and the Bozeman Ice Festival need your support. For more info, visit the FOH Facebook page or hyalite.org.
This article originally appeared in the 2013 Bozeman Ice Festival official program.
Editor's note: The road is typically closed from April 1 to May 15, which doesn't sit well with all users; many people think the road should be ungated during this time, to allow access for spring backcountry skiing.