Just an hour drive from the Yellowstone north entrance, Livingston, Montana is something out of an old-fashioned western fairytale. The small town is nestled between four stunning mountain ranges and lies alongside the Yellowstone River. From historic hotels and local beef dinners to world-class fishing and waterfall hikes, Livingston is easily one of the best year-round options for a home base when visiting Yellowstone National Park.
This article was created in partnership with the Livingston Chamber of Commerce and TBID. All photos provided by the Livingston Chamber.
Livingston is a launching point for Yellowstone National Park. Fly into Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport just 30 minutes away, or fly into Billings, an easy 1 hour, 45 minutes away. Many folks like to stay in the park for a few nights to cut down on driving time, which is a great idea. In Yellowstone you’ll get high doses of nature, wildlife, and scenic views. In Livingston you’ll get authenticity, unique experiences, fantastic local (and more budget friendly) lodging, and a whole lot of local charm. Livingston has a stay for every taste.
Livingston First, Yellowstone North Entrance Second
Why do we recommend staying in Livingston on your Yellowstone vacation? It’s the best way to get national park advice from true locals. Make friends in Livingston and find out where they like to go in the park. It also has a wide variety of overnight options so your Yellowstone home away from home will be exactly what your vacation style calls for. Furthermore, not only does Livingston provide easy access to the National Park, you’ll find this historic town on the banks on the Yellowstone River is also a year-round destination in its own right.
Day 1: Explore the town
The best way to get over travel fatigue and soreness is to go for a walk. Take a stroll through town and soak up Livingston’s charming Main Street. Try the local cuisine, and find out what events are happening while you’re there. There’s often live music, art auctions, and even weekly fly-tying workshops at the local fly-fishing shop.
Something we love about Livingston is the assortment of unique lodging the town has to offer. Book your home away from home in Livingston, as they have a variety of choices, from a charming Western hotel or a family-run motor in to a brand-new place with a pool for the kids and a Jacuzzi for you. You’ll find a stay to suit your tastes in this happening little town.
Day 2: Ride the River
Time for some sports action! What better way to experience the Yellowstone River than to go rafting? Check out the list of outfitters that will take your family out for a day of white water rafting down the river. If you’re not looking to get soaking wet, go out on the river with a fly-fishing guide in search of dinner instead.
Arts & Theatre
During the day, visit the three museums in Livingston. In the evening, experience local theatre any time of year at the Shane Lalani Center for the Arts or the Blue Slipper Theater. In the summer, you’ll also find live bands all over town—you’ll have lots to choose from, especially Thursday through Saturday nights.If you’re looking for a more Western form of entertainment, you’ll find it at the Livingston rodeo or in the form of art by renowned artists who call Livingston home. Between shows, sets, and meals, browse the 18 art galleries in town to see local art inspired by the beauty of Livingston.
Day 3: Hiking and Fishing
Before continuing down to the Yellowstone north entrance, make the most of your third day by getting up early and grabbing breakfast at one of may spots, such as the Northern Pacific Beanery or Pinky’s Cafe. Any dining option in Livingston will offer you home-cooked, classic American breakfasts. Make sure you fuel up, because there is no shortage of outdoor recreation surrounding Livingston. With over 1 million acres of public land right outside your hotel door, you can take a biking trail all the way from the center of town down Paradise Valley, soaking up all the views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Test your fitness and hike up to the top of Livingston Peak, enjoying beautiful wildflowers on the way, or take a more relaxed hour-long hike to the Pine Creek Falls. You can choose to fly-fish on the Yellowstone river or golf the only course in the country that sits right next to the Yellowstone River.
Music & Hot Springs
On your way south, we highly recommend seeing a show at the Montana Music Ranch or the Old Saloon. There’s nothing like live music in a gorgeous red barn, in the middle of a field with exceptional mountain views—except maybe live music at a quirky, themed saloon with an outdoor stage. If your hotel doesn’t have a pool, make a stop at Chico Hot Springs or Yellowstone Hot Springs. It will be a peaceful moment to soak up your Livingston experience. Once you drive into the Yellowstone north entrance and spend some time immersed in nature and wilderness, you’ll be glad you spent those few days around such charming people, culture, and easy-living in Livingston, Montana.