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Outhouses — ‘unsung heroes’ of Hyalite Canyon — padlocked due to trash

Posted at 2:11 PM, Jun 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-28 16:11:04-04

BOZEMAN – Hyalite Canyon is one of Montana’s most popular places to enjoy nature — but when nature calls, you need a place to answer that call.

Unfortunately, people are putting their trash in the wrong place, making a gross situation.

When you have to go, you have to go, even when you are out enjoying nature. But the outhouses up in Hyalite have ended up padlocked shut by the Forest Service.

Why? They are becoming people’s trash cans.

“It all comes down to the outhouses, so they are the unsung heroes of Hyalite Canyon,” said Hilary Eisen, president of the non-profit group Friends of Hyalite.

“Nature calls when you are in nature, and there are a number of outhouses up here which help with that,” Eisen said.

Friends of Hyalite works to take care of the area year-round.

“The reservoir in Hyalite provides about 80 percent of Bozeman’s drinking water and we want to keep that water supply clean,” Eisen says.

But when people can’t get to the luxuries of home, what then?

“If you lock the outhouse, it doesn’t mean that fewer people have to go to the bathroom,” Eisen said. “They just end up going somewhere else.

Many say it’s frustrating to come up to one of the many outhouses and see a padlock locking one of them tightly shut, especially if you have to go.

The Custer-Gallatin National Forest says just over the past three years at two different trailheads, the outhouses had to be closed due to this issue.

And it costs about $500 to $800 just to pump them out.

According to the Friends of Hyalite who monitor this road constantly in the area, on average, about 5,000 cars drive through here, so the outhouses are being used a lot.

“When those vaults fill up, you gotta pump it or lock it,” Eisen said.

And when trash gets in there, pumping it can’t happen.

“It’s really hard to get it out of there,” Eisen said. “The guy whose job it is to pump that outhouse has to actually pick it out by hand and so he’s in that vault picking out your diapers and your pop cans.”

Eisen said there are two ways to help.

“We are working on raising money to help contribute to pumping outhouses in Hyalite,” she said.

Or take out the garbage you brought with you.

“Pack it back out,” Eisen said. “There is no garbage service in Hyalite and the outhouses are not trash cans.”

The Friends of Hyalite have a way for you to donate to their cause online at

In the meantime, the Forest Service has hired a service to help get to these outhouses more often.

Reporting by Cody Boyer for MTN News