At last, you’ve landed in the Bozeman airport ready to the make the most of your Yellowstone vacation. Already, you’re faced with a tough decision: which way will you travel the park? If you ask us, we’d recommend the 53-mile scenic drive through Paradise Valley to Gardiner, Montana. From wildlife watching, to soaking in hot springs, to delicious baked goods, here are some tips for making the most of your journey to the gates of Yellowstone National Park.
From the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, follow Interstate 90 east 35 miles and take the Exit 333 for Livingston, Montana. Follow the signs for Yellowstone National Park to Highway 89. Welcome to Paradise!
About the Valley
Paradise Valley is a major river valley of the Yellowstone River, located north of Yellowstone National Park. Characterized by sweeping views of the Absaroka Beartooth Mountains to the east and the Gallatin Mountain range to the west, the valley is noted for world-class flyfishing, hot springs, and incredible wildlife watching opportunities and scenery.
Hiking the Abasaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.
As you head south on Highway 89, you’ll come to the Pine Creek turnoff on your left. Here you’ll find stunning trailheads to Pine Creek Falls or Pine Creek Lakes. Passage Creek Falls is another family-friendly hike in the Mill Creek Drainage, a few miles further south. Check out a few more of our favorite area hikes here.
Search for Wildlife
The Paradise Valley is not only incredibly scenic, but also a mecca for wildlife lovers. Elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and mule deer are commonly spotted in the fields along the road (be sure to utilize the numerous pullouts for safe viewing!) If you’re really lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of moose, bobcat, grizzly, or black bear.
Chico Hot Springs Resort
The historic resort located in Emigrant, Montana, approximately 25 miles south of Livingston, offers rustic and fine dining, comfortable lodging, a poolside bar, and of course a natural hot springs to relax those joints after your hike. Your family can also take advantage of a variety of activities, including horseback riding in summer and dog sledding in winter.
This gem of a local bakery is located in Emigrant, Montana, and is well-known for its fresh baked breads, organic espresso, and homemade pizzas. Local favorite Follow Yer' Nose BBQ also sets up here during the summer months, and can even include live music.
Fishing or Relaxing by the Yellowstone River
Try your luck on this world-class fly-fishing stream, or just stop by one of the fishing accesses for a picnic. Along with beautiful mountain views and bird of prey like osprey or eagle swooping ahead, you might also spot one of the many local guided rafting trips floating by.
Explore Tom Miner Basin
Tucked away just west of Highway 89 approximately 35 miles from south of Livingston is Tom Miner Basin. Take a drive along this hidden paradise to find bears, moose, fox, and other wildlife. A Petrified Forest is located in the Custer Gallatin National Forest after eight miles down the dirt road - a family-friendly interpretive trail that will introduce you to some of the geologic wonders of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Another highlight of Tom Miner is the B Bar Ranch. The staff at this sustainable, organic working guest ranch are more than happy to provide a comfortable, private base camp for your Yellowstone adventure.
Reach Your Destination
At the end of your 53-mile adventure lies the charming, historic gateway community of Gardiner, Montana. We’re right outside the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park and will be happy to help you find the perfect accommodations, local dining experience - or recommend adventurous activities filled with the Montana spirit. The adventure has just begun!