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Livingston Montana to Yellowstone National Park: Complete Guide

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As we head from Livingston, Montana to Yellowstone National Park, a world of natural wonders unfolds before us. The shift from the charming town of Livingston to the vast expanse of Yellowstone promises an adventure filled with anticipation and discovery. Exploring this dynamic landscape offers a glimpse into the raw beauty and untamed wilderness that define the essence of the American West.

Livingston Montana to Yellowstone National Park

Along the way, we’ll pass through scenic locales near the original entrance, the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Travel time between Livingston and Yellowstone varies, but whether you’re departing from local airport,  Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport or u.s. highway the journey is part of the adventure.

Traveling via U.S. Highways offers one of the best ways to soak in the stunning scenery and uncover hidden gems. While taking the unbeaten path year-round might not always be the shortest distance, it ensures you experience the full charm and character of the area. Whether you are embarking on a quick day trip or planning an entire trip around the region, the hour-long drive from the closest airport is well worth it. 

Is Livingston a Good Base for Yellowstone?

Located just an hour’s drive from the North Entrance of Yellowstone. Livingston, Montana exudes the charm of an old-fashioned western fairytale. This quaint town is embraced by four majestic mountain ranges and sits peacefully alongside the Yellowstone River.

Livingston serves as an excellent base for exploring Yellowstone National Park due to its proximity and access to a variety of outdoor activities and attractions. The town’s ideal location makes it a perfect home base for those seeking outdoor recreation. Yellowstone Lake in the northwestern part of the national park is a popular choice to visit.

With numerous fishing access sites along the Yellowstone River, it is easy to throw in a line and enjoy the abundance of trout. Additionally, Livingston is surrounded by scenic places showcasing Montana’s natural beauty, offering breathtaking views. As a historic train town, it exudes charm and character, adding appeal to the area.

 When it comes to dining options, visitors can indulge in a range of culinary delights, from local eateries to fine dining establishments. Furthermore, the town’s natural attractions, such as the Yellowstone River and nearby hiking trails, provide endless opportunities for adventure and exploration. Whether you’re looking to relax in nature or start on thrilling outdoor adventures, Livingston offers the perfect starting point for your Yellowstone journey.

Visiting Paradise Valley From Livingston, Montana

Paradise Valley, nestled in the picturesque Gallatin Range of southwestern Montana, is a captivating blend of rugged wilderness and serene beauty. Stretching along the Yellowstone River, this valley is renowned for its breathtaking vistas, crystal-clear streams, and abundant wildlife. Exploring the unspoiled splendor of the heart of Paradise Valley, Montana often entails encountering a rich array of local wildlife. Within Big Sky Montana’s borders reside both black bears and grizzly bears, adding to the region’s ecological diversity. 

The small town of Livingston serves as a great way to enjoy Paradise Valley. Offering charming shops, art galleries, gourmet wine shops, and local eateries such as rustic steakhouses. Visitors can explore the region’s rich cultural heritage at the Livingston Depot Center, which showcases the area’s history as a hub for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Outdoor activities abound, with opportunities for hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and wildlife watching in the nearby Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. Whether soaking in the natural hot springs of Chico or marveling at the towering peaks of the Absaroka Range, Paradise Valley offers an unforgettable escape into the heart of Montana’s wild beauty.

Livingston Montana to Yellowstone National Park

What is Livingston, Montana, Famous for?

Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Montana, Livingston, Montana, is renowned for its rich history, vibrant culture, and abundant outdoor adventures. The historic downtown, featured in ‘A River Runs Through It,’ boasts tidy brick buildings and vintage neon signs. 

Museums like the Yellowstone Gateway Museum offer insights into Native American artifacts and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Dining options range from farm-to-fork at The Original Rib and Chop House to local favorites like Wildflour Bakery. Natural attractions like the Tom Miner Basin and Petrified Forest showcase the area’s diverse beauty.

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy year-round fly fishing and guided tours on the Yellowstone River.  Wildlife-watching opportunities abound, with bald eagles and elk along the river. For relaxation, Chico Hot Springs Resort captures the essence of Montana with its outdoor mineral pools and stargazing opportunities. Whether exploring museums, savoring local cuisine, or immersing in nature, Livingston offers an unforgettable experience before venturing to Yellowstone National Park.

Where to Stay in Livingston, Montana to Yellowstone National Park

When considering where to stay in Livingston, Montana, we recommend exploring options to some of the best places like KOA Livingston, the Historic Murray Hotel, and Copper Rose Ranch. These accommodations offer a range of amenities and experiences, catering to different preferences and budgets. Each of these places provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the charm and hospitality of Livingston.

KOA Livingston

Tucked away in the picturesque surroundings of Livingston, Montana, KOA offers cozy and convenient lodging.  This KOA is next to the Yellowstone river. We liked that they offered nice level spots, with a well-stocked general store. The bathrooms were clean and well kept. There is an Indoor pool available when in season. The Internet availability is spotty.  This makes it a great option for travelers exploring the area. Just a short drive away from attractions like Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley, and Cooke City.  KOA Livingston provides easy access to the West  Entrance and Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. 

For those interested in local history, the Yellowstone Gateway Museum is nearby. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore Pine Creek Falls in the Gallatin Range and enjoy activities like cross-country skiing. After a day of adventures, unwind at KOA Livingston and relish the freedom of the great outdoors. For a touch of luxury, consider visiting the nearby Sage Lodge for a memorable stay.

Historic Murray Hotel

After exploring the scenic surroundings of Livingston, Montana, one standout lodging option for visitors is the Historic Murray Hotel. The Murray Hotel offers a unique and historic stay in the heart of downtown Livingston. The Murray Hotel and its adjoining Murray Bar made an appearance in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Bourdain suggested that when staying at The Murray, reserve the Peckinpah suite. The hotel provides pet-friendly rooms and showcases vintage neon signs that add character to the Main Street experience. Being located downtown, guests have easy access to outdoor activities and are near Yellowstone. The area boasts vintage burger joints, tidy brick buildings, and a vibrant atmosphere. Staying at the Murray Hotel not only offers comfort but also a glimpse into the past with its historic charm. Whether for outdoor adventures or town exploration, the Murray Hotel offers convenient and memorable lodging.

Copper Rose Ranch

Nestled in Livingston, Montana’s tranquil landscapes, Copper Rose Ranch offers a serene retreat. Situated in Paradise Valley, this historic ranch provides breathtaking views and an authentic cowboy experience. Stay in one of their traditionally stacked lodgepole pine cabins. Choose between a cozy hunter’s cabin for up to four or a family-sized cabin for ten. All cabins feature kitchens, full baths, gas stoves, heat, and air conditioning.

Ideal for larger groups, there is a  partially renovated farmhouse retaining its Montana charm. It includes five bedrooms, three full baths, a kitchen, laundry, a rock fireplace, and wide-planked wood floors. Two large porches are available for morning coffee or intimate dinners under the stars.Guests can enjoy various ranch activities, including horseback riding, cattle drives, and western hospitality. The Copper Rose Ranch embodies a true Western experience. Visitors can immerse themselves in nature’s beauty and the charm of a bygone era. Whether you seek relaxation or outdoor adventures, this ranch is the perfect destination for an authentic taste of the Old West.

Yellowstone River Inn & Suites

The Yellowstone River Inn & Suites in historic downtown Livingston, MT, is about 50 miles from the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park. This 100% smoke-free hotel is near the Buckhorn Theatre, Pine Creek Falls, Sacajawea Park, and the Yellowstone River. It’s a short drive from Montana State University, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, Bridger Bowl, and around 70 miles from Big Sky. The area near the Inn features specialty shops, galleries, historical museums, and a community theater. Enjoy outdoor activities like horseback riding, fishing, hiking, and snowmobiling.Yellowstone River Inn & Suites offers spacious, pet-friendly suites with beautiful river views. Amenities include a swimming pool, picnic area, free Wi-Fi, and easy access to fishing spots.

Where to Eat in Livingston, Montana to Yellowstone National Park

Livingston is a haven for food enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of culinary experiences. You can savor farm-to-table restaurants, markets with vegan options, fine and innovative dining, ethnic cuisine, rustic steakhouses, sushi and seafood, gourmet wine and food emporiums, two breweries, vintage burger joints, traditional cafés, European-style bakeries, a dozen independently owned coffee shops, and numerous bars.

In certain weather, restaurant hours may be limited, so it’s recommended to call ahead to confirm hours and seating availability. When the weather is warm, consider packing a gourmet picnic with provisions from local wine and cheese shops, bakeries, coffeehouses, and breweries! When it comes to dining in Livingston Montana, we’ve got some great options to share with you. Whether you’re in the mood for farm-to-fork dining or looking to explore local flavors, these restaurants have something for everyone.

Campione

If you ever find yourself in Livingston, Montana, make sure Campione is on your list. However, be sure to make a reservation ahead of time—the food is so exceptional that it’s always packed, making it difficult to get a walk-in seat! You absolutely must try the Pan Fried Crispy Brussels Sprouts and the Bison Ragu; both are incredible! I also had the Sicilian Lemonade, a sweet sparkling lemonade that was incredibly refreshing. It’s apparently hard to find, so be sure to order one while you’re there. If you can snag a seat at the bar area, you’ll have the added treat of watching the chefs prepare your meal.

The name “Campione” translates to “Champion” in Italian, and the menu reflects this with a strong Italian influence. However, that’s just part of the story. The true essence of the restaurant lies in embracing one of the core principles of Italian cuisine—using only the finest ingredients—and applying it to a Montana kitchen with local produce. Since its opening, locals in Livingston have recognized it as a gem, and food lovers across Montana have taken notice. It should come as no surprise that Campione recently earned a spot on the New York Times’ list of the 50 best restaurants of 2023.

The Original Rib and Chop House

 The Original Rib and Chop House in Livingston, Montana, is a great restaurant for both locals and tourists. Located in the historic downtown area of Livingston, this restaurant offers a range of dining options for meat lovers. They combine a farm-to-fork dining concept and a diverse menu featuring beef, chicken, pork, and seafood. While they excel in beef and seafood dishes, some might find the vegetarian or vegan options limited. This place stands out for its delicious food and wheelchair-accessible facilities, making it welcoming to all. Next time you’re in Livingston, visit The Original Rib and Chop House for a satisfying meal.

Gil’s Goods

In the heart of Livingston, Montana, Gil’s Goods offers a unique dining experience that captures the essence of the local culinary scene. Located conveniently near Yellowstone National Park, this restaurant is a must-visit after a day of outdoor activities. Situated on Main Street, Gils Goods boasts farm-to-fork dining with scenic views that perfectly complement their delicious dishes.

Adjacent to the café is the bar, known for its diverse selection of craft beers, wines, and cocktails, creating a welcoming space for socializing and relaxation. The vintage neon signs add a touch of nostalgia to the ambiance, creating a welcoming atmosphere for all visitors. After exploring the Fly Fishers International Museum, make sure to stop by Gil’s Goods for a memorable meal in Livingston, Montana. Gil’s Goods acts as a community hub, hosting events, live music, and gatherings that bring people together. It’s a beloved fixture in Livingston, embodying the town’s lively spirit and welcoming everyone who steps through its doors.

Pickle Barrel

Founded in 1975, Pickle Barrel has become a beloved institution, renowned for its commitment to quality hot and cold sandwiches. They also sell locally made, Wilcoxin Ice Cream. Today, you can find Pickle Barrel in two remaining locations: Livingston and Bozeman. Both locations continue to uphold the traditions that have made Pickle Barrel a favorite both within and beyond Montana. Pickle Barrel was voted best sandwich in Montana for seven years running. This accolade is a testament to their dedication to excellence, drawing new fans from far and wide.

Whether you’re a regular or a first-time visitor find why Pickle Barrel is much more than just a sandwich shop. Their dedication to the community goes beyond serving great food. Pickle Barrel is actively involved in local events and charitable activities, reinforcing their deep roots in the communities served. This commitment to community involvement is a cornerstone of their identity and a key factor in their  enduring popularity. 

Tru North Cafe

We had breakfast this morning at Trû North Café . The food was phenomenal! The owner James used to be a TV producer, now a coffee shop owner who shops for all of the ingredients himself. I tried their famous 5-star Iced Maple Mountain Cloud! It was soo good!! We ordered the Avocado Toast with Egg and Maple Candied Bacon and the Pork Breakfast Burrito! We left with very happy tummies!

Tru North Cafe offered us a delightful dining experience with a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The cafe embodiied the essence of freedom with its diverse menu featuring local cuisine and breakfast options. Whether you’re craving an artisan coffee or one of their specialty drinks, this cozy spot has you covered. Tru North Cafe goes beyond just food; it hosts community events that bring people together.

They generally have four outdoor tables for a total of eight seats allowing dogs, letting you enjoy your meal while taking in the beauty of Livingston and slipping your pups a little something. The friendly staff added to the welcoming atmosphere, making every visit a memorable one. So, if you’re looking for a place with great food, a cozy vibe, and a sense of community, Tru North Cafe is the place to be.

Los Pinos Mexican Restaurant

Located in the Clark’s Crossing Plaza, the owner has over 25 years in the restaurant business in the South. After being encouraged by locals who tasted his cooking, he opened Los Pinos in Livingston, Montana. He and his nephew are excited to bring their authentic mexican cuisine to the folks in Livingston. With Tex-Mex goodies as well as more traditional offerings there is something to please everyone.

Things to Do in Livingston, Montana to Yellowstone National Park

As we explore Livingston, Montana, we’re excited to share the array of activities awaiting visitors. From soaking in the rejuvenating Chico Hot Springs to experiencing horseback riding with Rockin HK Outfitters, there’s something for everyone. Don’t miss the chance to see bears at Tom Miner Basin and Gallatin Petrified Forest or try your hand at fly fishing along the Yellowstone River.

Chico Hot Springs

What makes Chico Hot Springs a must-visit attraction? This hot springs is in Pray, Montana-down the road about 20 miles from Livingston, Montana. This gem is perfect for a relaxing getaway. Daniel absolutely loved the healing waters. We would highly recommend Chico Hot Springs for anyone looking to unwind and rejuvenate! They also offer quite a few lodging options and have a great poolside restaurant!

Chico Hot Springs
Chico Hot Springs: livingston Montana to yellowstone national park

Chico Hot Springs captures the essence of relaxation with its naturally heated mineral water pools. The outdoor pools offer a rejuvenating experience, perfect for unwinding after hiking or riding amid nature’s embrace. Imagine stargazing while soaking in the therapeutic waters, a truly magical experience. Chico Hot Springs doesn’t just stop at the pools; it also provides cozy cabins, delicious dining options, and live entertainment to complete your stay. Whether you choose to stay in the hotel or opt for a cabin, the natural and heated pools are a highlight not to be missed. Chico Hot Springs is where tranquility meets entertainment in the heart of Montana.

Horseback Riding at Rockin HK Outfitters

Just a short drive from Livingston to Chico Hot Springs / Rockin’ HK Outfitters. Closed-toed shoes are required, and if you bring a cowboy hat, make sure you can secure it while you ride. We suggest you arrive early and grab a bite to eat at Chico Hot Springs. Exploring the picturesque landscapes of Livingston, Montana, can be enhanced with an unforgettable horseback riding experience at Rockin HK Outfitters—it’s sure to stirrup some great memories! Saddle up and venture into the stunning Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness on a guided horseback ride. During our ride, we discovered a hidden movie set nearby, where part of the Western movie, “Rust” with Alec Baldwin and a Nicolas Cage movie was filmed. It was a real treat to see! The ride was peaceful, with beautiful blue skies and snow-capped mountains.

After your ride, consider exploring other outdoor activities, such as guided fishing tours with Montana Anglers, a Yellowstone River float with Paradise Adventure Company, or wildlife spotting along the way. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a beginner, horseback riding at Rockin HK Outfitters offers a unique way to connect with the beauty of Livingston, Montana, and its proximity to Yellowstone National Park.

Bear Watch at Tom Miner Basin And Gallatin Petrified Forest

Look into a thrilling bear-watch adventure at Tom Miner Basin and Gallatin Petrified Forest. Tom Miner Basin, renowned for its rebounding grizzly bear population, offers a unique opportunity to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. The Petrified Forest, with its ancient petrified trees, adds to the charm, creating a stunning backdrop for wildlife viewing. Surrounded by the beauty of the Yellowstone River, you’ll enjoy serene outdoor activities like hiking and fishing. The proximity of Emigrant Town added a touch of history to our adventure, making it an unforgettable experience for wildlife fans.

Try Your Hand at Fly Fishing

Livingston, Montana offers a diverse fishing scene. Options range from big rivers like Yellowstone, to spring creeks like Armstrong’s, and small stream fisheries like Mill Creek. There are also secret spots cherished by locals, making Livingston the headquarters for the International Federation of Fly Fishers. This organization works on conservation efforts, educates people about the sport, and preserves its history. The museum is located inside the Yellowstone Gateway Museum. It includes flies tied by renowned anglers and memorabilia from fly-fishing pioneers Lee and Joan Wulff.

Livingston offers excellent fly fishing opportunities along the banks of the Yellowstone River. Montana Anglers can guide both beginners and experienced anglers, providing access to various fishing points along the river. Additionally, you can explore the Pine Creek Trail in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness for a different outdoor experience. Here, you can hike, fish, and observe migratory birds and wildlife along the riverbanks. Make sure to follow safety tips for a rewarding fishing experience.

Livingston’s Historic Downtown

Strolling through Livingston’s Historic Downtown reveals a charming mix of tidy brick buildings and vintage neon signs.  Visitors will get a glimpse into the town’s rich history and character. Main Street bustles with art galleries, museums, and unique dining options. We enjoyed visiting Out of the Blue Antiques on Main Street. We loved this cute store and were excited to get several things there. The Murray Hotel also stands out in its location, providing pet-friendly accommodations. 

Outdoor activities beckon, with natural attractions like the nearby Tom Miner Basin and Gallatin Petrified Forest. The downtown area is vibrant, with a blend of history and modernity. Visitors can explore the past while enjoying the present, with plenty to see and do in Livingston’s historic heart. Whether admiring the neon signs, spending time in local museums, or simply taking in the atmosphere, Livingston’s Historic Downtown offers a memorable experience for all.

Scenic Views on The East River Road

As we journeyed from Livingston’s Historic Downtown, a drive along The East River Road showed us stunning scenic views of the valley and mountains, offering an enchanting backdrop. The East River Road, branching off U.S. Highway 89 South, runs parallel to the majestic Yellowstone River, providing a picturesque route for us.

The mountains in the distance created a sense of awe, and the valley below was a sight to behold. This area has many outdoor activities, including a hiking trail in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness that offers exciting opportunities for adventure. Wildlife-watching opportunities are plentiful, so keep an eye out for bald eagles, elk, and other animals that call this region home. The East River Road is a paradise for nature lovers seeking beauty and adventure.

Visit the Yellowstone Gateway Museum

We were fascinated by the diverse exhibits showcasing Native American artifacts and tales from the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The museum‘s Pull Up a Chair exhibit displayed engaging historical tales, adding to our understanding of the region’s past. We were surprised at the array of artifacts they offered that shed light on the rich history of Montana. Additionally, the Fly Fishers International Museum within the same premises delighted us with its display of antique fishing rods, reels, and baskets, giving us a glimpse into the angling heritage of the area. We felt the experience further heightened our appreciation for the natural beauty and history along the Yellowstone River.

Visit Sacajawea Park

Clark of Lewis and Clark fame, split from the larger group when they reached the three forks of the Missouri River. He then led a smaller contigency of about a dozen men to explore the Yellowstone River. Their foray into the Yellowstone River valley is commemorated at Sacajawea Park in Livingston. This municipal park, located about a half-mile downriver from where the expedition likely reached the river, features a statue of Sacagawea on horseback holding her son, Jean Baptiste. Wayside exhibits complement the statue, and visitors can enjoy the same expansive views of the mountain-bounded valley that Clark described in 1806.

Hike Pine Creek Trail

We started on the invigorating hike along Pine Creek Trail. We found ourselves in the rugged beauty of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. The trail offers a scenic journey to Pine Creek Falls and an alpine lake. The hike is perfect for nature lovers seeking adventure. As we trekked through the wilderness, the sounds of the Yellowstone River accompany us, enhancing the peaceful ambiance. Wildlife-watching opportunities abound, with chances to spot bald eagles, migratory birds, and elk in their natural habitat. The trail provided stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. It is a must-do for those looking to explore the beauty of nature near Yellowstone National Park.

pine creek falls : livingston Montana to yellowstone national park
Pine Creek Falls- photo credit: Visit Montana

Much of where you will want to enter Yellowstone or Glacier National Park will depend on your travel plans. Deciding on the ideal home base can be affected by the weather and time of year such as late spring or the summer months. Deciding these important things will give you a better idea to make a more realistic plan for a full itinerary of interesting places.

Also, Bozeman is just a 40-minute drive from Livingston, making it perfect for a half-day trip. Start your morning in Bozeman with some excellent coffee and breakfast options. You can hike Sypes canyon trail or South Cottonwood Trail (both local favorites). Then, head back to Livingston to explore the local shops and enjoy a delightful dinner to end your day.

Whether you’re traveling from Livingston Montana to Yellowstone National Park, or just visiting the surrounding areas, Livingston serves as an excellent starting point for your Yellowstone adventure!

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