It took me a few years of living in the mountains to realize that mud season might (almost) be my favorite time of year. I call it the solitude that combines three season making for a perfect transition between winter, spring and summer. We can have any combination of those three seasons in one day. Morning snow that turns into a sunny, 60 degree warm afternoon where the green grass and blossoming daffodils come alive. Or the opposite, a beautiful morning sunrise with afternoon showers. While unpredictable, the weather is certain to change throughout the days.
For those that don't know what 'mud season' is, it is the off season between the ski season and the summer season. It is called mud season because the snow is melting quickly, which creates lots of mud and dirt, however it is the uncovering of the earth, grass and forest is ready to be played in. Mud season typically runs from mid-April to mid/late May.
Locals typically enjoy mud season because the crowds are gone and there are plenty of incredible dining discounts (as well as lodging discounts for those visitors that want to come enjoy the perks of the quiet calm). There are also many activities in town that create the perfect solitude to enjoy the mountains. It is an ideal time for a relaxing vacation in Big Sky and the backyard Montana playground.
My favorite activities to enjoy in mud season (in top 4 order) listed below:
1. Biking in Yellowstone National Park
The park roads are open to bikers, yet closed to vehicle traffic. Sounds like the perfect combination for biking without worry or sharing the road to vehicles. Take in the spectacular views at your leisure without the crowds. This is an experience few people get to have, which may equate to the best kept secret of seeing Yellowstone.
Stop by the local flyfishing outfitter to get acquainted with the best areas to cast your line and reel in that brown or rainbow trout you've been waiting for.
3. Look for Wildlife
If you look around, you may notice the many baby animals. Head to the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park for incredible wildlife viewing.
4. Soak up the Hot Springs
Montana is home to many hot springs. You can access both natural and commercial hot springs near Big Sky. Chico Hot Springs and the Boiling River Hot Springs are two popular spots.
Just because winter is over and summer has not yet begun, does not mean Big Sky disappears in the spring. Be sure to put 'mud season' on your list of places to explore in the future. Just bring your waterproof hiking boots, plenty of layers, and go exploring.