These past few days, I’ve been visiting Yellowstone National Park, which is mostly in Wyoming. I flew into Bozeman, Montana, though, and decided to see if I could find any waterfalls in Montana on my way to the park. I found two easy-to-visit waterfalls, one on the way there, and one on the way back.
Ousel Falls was the first of the falls I visited along my journey, and it was an easy visit. It is just a few miles off of US-191 (which I felt was the much easier way to access Yellowstone from Bozeman). When you turn to head to Big Sky, you’ll pass through a surprisingly nice residential and recreation area. (It was more “built up” than I was expecting.)
After arriving at the trailhead, it’s a 3/4 mile hike to the falls. It isn’t extremely difficult, though it isn’t flat, consistently uphill, or consistently downhill. It’s more of a “roller coaster” hike ranking on the easier side of moderate. There are two views of the falls. One of the views shows the upper “drop” more clearly. The view at the base of the falls reveals much of the beautiful rock surrounding the falls. Either of these produce great photos, and there’s a picnic area at the base. This is definitely a worthwhile detour while heading to Yellowstone, and you’ll even find some nice restaurants in the Big Sky resort area.
(And an ousel is a kind of bird. A waterfall in Colorado, Ouzel Falls, is also named after the bird, just with a different spelling.)
1) Head south along US-191 from Bozeman (or from Belgrade, which is nearer the airport).
2) After 40 miles or so, turn right onto MT-64 and head toward Big Sky. You’ll drive for two or so miles through residential areas, restaurants, shops, and a golf course.
3) Then turn left (more like veer left) onto Ousel Falls Road. Drive until you reach the Ousel Falls Trailhead, which will be on your left. There’s a big sign!
4) Start the hike to the falls!
Where in the World is Ousel Falls?: map