Preserving the winter experience on a cherished trail system. Investing in the health of our community.
Thank you to everyone who helped us raise nearly $1 million during Sunset Hills Capital Campaign. We did it! We have a snowmaking system. Now comes the work of continuing to maintain this system. Donate or make a sponsorship today.
Located in downtown Bozeman next to Lindley park, across the street from Bozeman Health, and within minutes of city schools and businesses, Sunset Hills is the centerpiece of Bozeman's groomed trail system, with approximately 5km of skiing.
Since BSF began grooming ski trails at Sunset Hills in the late 1960s, winter trail use has increased an estimated 5,000%, contributing to the economy and Bozeman's homegrown ski-town identity.
In 2014, the SE Group assessed community priorities in the Community Nordic Trails Feasibility Study, which identified Sunset Hills as having the highest value for the Bozeman community. Based on that report, Bridger Ski Foundation and HKD Snowmakers developed a comprehensive Sunset Hills winter site plan that includes upgraded snowmaking.
Technological advances have made snowmaking more reliable and affordable. HKD Snowmakers has a reputation for sustainable practices. The HKD Impulse is a portable, low-energy use snow gun that produces quality snow at above-normal temperatures.
Optimal temperatures for making snow are below 28F wet bulb. The goal is to have a stable base by mid December that lasts through late March. Up to five snow guns can be used at one time, allowing Sunset Hills trails to be ready for skiing in as little as a week.
IN-TOWN SKIING FOR A VILLAGE
Sunset Hills is a local favorite for kids, families, visitors, students, the MSU Ski Team, BSF, Crosscut teams, Montana Endurance Academy and the U.S. Paralympic Nordic Team. The rolling terrain is perfect for everyone from beginners to experts, from the early hours of the morning, to lunch breaks, till long after dark.
The Sunset Hills venue is key to BSF's after-school and adult Nordic programs, as well as BSF's mission, vision and goals.
And, it's free for all.
Ensure that anyone can ski for free all winter long.
Give kids easy access to healthy, after-school ski programs.
Be a buffer against unpredictable weather patterns.
Open trails earlier and keep them skiable longer.
Keep healthy, in-town recreation opportunities that reduce driving and carbon emissions and improve the physical and mental well-being of our community.
Allows for other recreational uses of the field, such as running and cycling, as well as hay production.
Since 1936, Bozeman's ski club has enabled each generation to ski, to experience the mountains, build friendships, and develop lifelong skills and a love of skiing. We provide access to a lifetime of outdoor opportunities through world-class ski programs and grooming 70+km of public and in-town winter trails.
In 2005, with permission from the City of Bozeman, BSF drilled a well on the southwest corner of Sunset Hills and made snow for five years. We'll use that same well, but with an added 32,000-gallon underground cistern to cool the water for better snowmaking conditions.
As of March 2021, we've raised approximately 96% of the needed $979,000 for the project. This is a separate capital campaign that does not impact BSF's regular programs, fundraising, or budget.
The City of Bozeman approved the project and the construction permits, and they also approved a contribution of $150,000 of cash-in-lieu-of-parkland funds toward the project.
Installation of the snowmaking system and construction of the pump house was completed during the summer and fall of 2020, and we began making snow in late November 2020.
When will you make snow?
We need quality weather windows to make snow. A combination of temperature and humidity make up the "wet bulb temperature" -- which is how you determine the best conditions for making snow (usually below 20 degrees wet bulb). Bozeman typically enters the range of ideal wet bulb temperatures in late November/early December. In addition, we'll be looking at long-range forecasts to ensure that we don't quickly lose that snow to warm temperatures.
Keep in mind that we also have a finite budget for snowmaking and grooming. We'll be managing snowmaking and grooming to ensure sustainable operations throughout the winter. We estimate it will take 45-50 hours to make a 1 km loop. (This budget can increase if more people support the BSF Trails Program through voluntary trail passes and donations. This will allow for more snowmaking and more grooming days in the valley.)
Early on, our goal will be to establish a single skiable loop on man-made snow. We'll build out to include more terrain from there.
SPONSOR & DONOR OPPORTUNITIES
All donations of $1,000 or more will be recognized on a donor wall at Sunset Hills.
Hill #1 - Round House Ski & Sports Center
Hill #2 - available
Hill #3 - Bob & Pat Frey in Memory of Jon Engen
Kilometer #1 (Ellis Lane) - available
Kilometer #2 (Highland Blvd) - available
Kilometer #3 (East loop) - available
Kilometer #4 (West loop) - available
Kilometer #5 (South loop) - available
Willow Grove - available
First Pitch - available
Stadium Hill - The Mittelsteadts/ Dee-O-Gee
Bridger View - Yellowstone Growth Partners
Northeast Entrance (sledding hill) - available
Southeast Entrance - Toyota
Stadium & Northwest Entrance - George L. Ohrstrom Jr. Foundation
Southwest Entrance (Old Highland & Ellis) - available
$500 - a series of plaques will be placed on the back of the community bench, near the pump house, with a great view of the Bridgers.
Sunset Hills is a partnership between BSF and the City of Bozeman. BSF is solely responsible for the cost, grooming and maintenance of the Community Nordic winter trails, which includes a total of seven venues. Access to the Community Nordic Trail System is granted through partnerships and the support of many organizations and landowners. This includes Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust, Gallatin National Forest, Bozeman Health, the City of Bozeman, Bridger Creek Golf Course, Montana State University, and Sacajawea Middle School.
Construction partners & Contributors
The work of the Sunset Hills Snowmaking Committee, key businesses, and individual supporters made this project a group effort. BSF worked closely with the City of Bozeman Parks and Recreation Department on the project. Many local businesses and Nordic ski supporters collaborated with BSF to shape the project and provide services, in-kind donations, and consultations.
Construction partners and contributors to the project include:
C & H Engineering
On-going supporters include:
City of Bozeman, Parks and Recreation Department
Montana Office of Tourism & Business, Tourism Grant Program
The visual impact of this HKD snowmaking system will be limited. Twelve snowmaking stations and pipes will be installed underground along the perimeter of the trail system. The open space will still be used for harvesting hay, running, hiking and cycling during the warm season. The HKD Impulse snow guns and hoses are low-energy-use and portable, allowing us to make snow along the entire trail. A small pump house will be located in the southwest corner. BSF has an existing well onsite that will provide water, and a 32,000-gallon underground cistern will be installed, allowing the water to reach cooler temps for better snowmaking.
HELP preserve the resiliency of our in-town skiing