Closed Road, Open Possibilities

Taking advantage of the Hyalite road closure.

Every year from April 1 – May 15, Hyalite Canyon Rd. is closed to vehicles. Forest Service Recreation Program Manager Wendi Urie explains that the closure is in place “to provide an opportunity for biking, walking, running, and other non-motorized activities without motorized traffic. The closure also protects the road from damage during the spring thaw when the road subsurface is soft.”

I love that the road is plowed for winter excursions and that anyone can drive high into the canyon for alpine missions in the summer, but this unique opportunity is one to relish. Here are a few ways to enjoy the Hyalite road closure every year. But first, grab your bike or some hiking shoes.

It is such a joy to be on a bike and not have to constantly look over your shoulder for cars. Park at the road closure and cruise as far as you’d like, or, to burn off those extra pancakes, ride from home. It’s about 35 miles round-trip from town to the reservoir. Avoid S. 19th by taking S. 3rd to Patterson Rd., then head south on Fowler Ln. The road provides a nice, steady, uphill grade and change of scenery from the daily town rides. With about 1,400 feet of gain, a ride to the reservoir will test your spring legs. 

Make quick work of the distance to popular backcountry ski areas by strapping touring gear to your bike. History Rock, Mt. Blackmore, and Lick Creek can have excellent spring conditions. Be prepared and check GNFAC (Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center) for conditions. 

Home to cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout, Hyalite Creek is open to fishing year-round below the reservoir. This is a great chance, before spring runoff, to try spots typically too busy once the road opens. Check with Montana FWP for regulation and license information.

If you don’t feel like biking, saunter up the road at a slow pace. Walking allows you to see things you never would in a car. The closed road offers a great place for a family stroll, or an open area for the dog to release energy.

You can find parking just before the gate. Regardless of what activity you choose, don’t be discouraged by a snow-covered road and colder temps in the lower, narrow part of the canyon. Just a few miles farther you may find dry roads and sunshine near the meadows surrounding Langohr Campground.

Keep in Mind
Be polite and stay to the right.
There are no services.
Pack out trash and dog waste.
Get in the routine of carrying bear spray.
Be aware that administrative vehicles may be on the road for spring maintenance.
Be on the lookout for Friends of Hyalite’s annual spring cleanup.

Jeff Hough lives in Bozeman with his family, plays outside as much as he can, and is a proud board member of Friends of Hyalite.