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Happy Camper

A new backcountry yurt in Montana.
posted: 10/08/2009
Bell Lake Yurt, Montana
by Christina Erb

Last December, Montana Backcountry Adventures’ 450-square-foot canvas yurt—called the Bell Lake Yurt—was heli-dropped deep inside Montana’s 10,000-foot-plus Tobacco Root Mountains, an hour’s drive west of Bozeman. The rudimentary shelter, which can accommodate six skiers and two dogs, comes with cots (bring your own sleeping bag), a wood stove, a propane stove, cookware, and an outhouse a short walk from the wooden deck. The area’s nonmotorized-use rule means no snowmobiles and plenty of fresh lines. On nearby 9,698-foot Branham Peak, there are a half-dozen couloirs and the wide, powder-filled bowls of Bell Lake cirque. Park your car on South Willow Creek Road. From there, they’ll snowmobile you in (for an additional fee) three miles on a Forest Service road, and you’ll skin in the last two and a half miles over 1,700 vertical feet. Staying at the Bell Lake Yurt can be as cheap as $35 per person per day unguided (Level I avy certification required). Or pony up $500 each for a three-day guided, catered trip, where co-owner Andy Goggins will cook you locally raised, grass-fed beef tenderloin filets and, for breakfast, hot huckleberry flapjacks. [Open from mid-December to late June;]

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