Camping & Campgrounds Gardiner, Paradise Valley, Livingston

Carbella Recreation Access Site

SeasonOpen All Year
Number of sites15 campsites
AmenitiesVault Toilets, Picnic tables, Fire pits, Food storage cabinets
AttractionsFly fishing, Whitewater, close to Yellowstone Park
Nearest CityGardiner, MT – 17 miles

Campground Details

Directions to Carbella Campground and River Access

The Carbella Access is just off US 89 17 miles north of Gardiner, MT, or 37 miles south of Livingston, MT. Turn off Hwy 89 onto the well-marked Tom Miner Creek Road and after about 100 yards turn right (north) into the Carbella entrance. Note: If you continue straight on this road you quickly reach the point where the historic flood of 2022 completely washed away the bridge that used to span the Yellowstone River.

Carbella campsites spread along river
The campsites at Carbella are in a single line along the riverbank.

Follow the road for about a quarter-mile until reaching one end of the campground. The campsites are in a single line along the river bank with the boat ramp and parking area in the middle of the line. The roads to Carbella Access are all suitable for any type of vehicle.

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Carbella Camping Information

The Carbella campground is operated by the BLM and features 15 campsites with a table, a fire ring, and a food storage cabinet. There are vault toilets but there is no water, no trash collection, no firewood, and no other services.

The developed campsites are all numbered and the BLM wants camping restricted to the numbered sites. However, there is a lot of empty field between the campground and the Tom Miner Road that could be used for emergency dispersed camping.

Typical campsite at Carbella recreation site
The campsites at Carbella Recreation Site feature a table, a fire ring, and a food storage cabinet. The sites are very flat with no vegetation except between the campsite and the river.

If you need a campsite there are a couple of nearby campgrounds to try. Tom Miner Campground is set in the forested mountains at the end of Tom Miner Creek Road. Canyon Campground is located about 2 miles south on US 89 in the middle of Yankee Jim Canyon. For information about all of the public campgrounds in the area see our Complete Guide to Public Campgrounds along the Yellowstone River.

Carbella Campground 2023 Fees and Payments

Camping at Carbella is free. There is no reservation system and all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a 14-day camping limit.

Carbella Physical Setting

Carbella Access is situated on BLM land that stretches for about 3/4 mile along the Yellowstone River. The habitat here is pretty stark. There is a narrow band of mature cottonwood trees, junipers, and shrubs lining the riverbank while the rest of the access is flat desert. This part of paradise Valley is very dry, probably receiving less than 10 inches of moisture each year. The surrounding lands show it.

Carbella boat ramp and the Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone River runs right past the Carbella Site. There is a large parking area and a long boat ramp that is heavily used in the summer by whitewater boaters. Upstream from here is the Yankee Jim Canyon whitewater section. Downstream, the river stays placid and is a famous trout fishing river.

Along the river, the habitat is completely different. Here, some plants send their roots deep enough to drink river water and there is a line of cottonwood and juniper trees along the riverbank. This narrow band can hold a diversity of birds so bring your binoculars.

Outdoor Recreation at Carbella Access Site

Floating the Yellowstone River is the main activity associated with Carbella. The large boat ramp area is the primary take-out for Yankee Jim Canyon floaters. Yankee Jim has the biggest whitewater rapids so lots of folks take out here. This access is used by commercial and recreational boaters.

While it’s whitewater upstream, those heading downstream find nothing but placid waters. This is a popular fly fishing stretch as anglers seek the wild trout that the Yellowstone River is famous for. While floating is the most effective way to fish the Yellowstone, the Carbella access offers a lot of shoreline for those who are wading.

The river is not the only attraction as there are excellent hiking trails in the Custer Gallatin Forest at the head of the Tom Miner Creek road. On the east side of the Yellowstone, the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness borders the entire valley. Of course, Yellowstone Park is less than 20 minutes away.