Most visitors look for private or national forest campgrounds when they visit the Gardiner, Livingston, and Paradise Valley areas in Montana. However, there are a few opportunities for free camping in this area just north of Yellowstone Park. Keep reading for our guide to free camping in Paradise Valley and along the Upper Yellowstone River.
From Yellowstone Park in the south to Livingston, MT in the north, Montana’s Paradise Valley and Upper Yellowstone region are among the finest outdoor recreation destinations in the country. Yellowstone National Park, the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness, and the Yellowstone River are world-class treasures waiting to be explored. Visitors will find excellent camping opportunities at a variety of public campgrounds between Livingston and Gardiner, MT. This guide to public campgrounds will help you choose the one that’s best for you.
The Timber Camp and Bear Creek Campgrounds are about a mile apart at the end of Bear Creek Road 11 miles outside of Gardiner, MT. The Forest Service identifies each as a campground but they also call them dispersed camping areas and there is no camping fee at either. They provide a great base for exploring the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness and visiting Yellowstone Park.
The Snowbank Campground and Mill Creek Cabin sit along Mill Creek in the Custer Gallatin National Forest near Pray, Emigrant, Livingston, and Gardiner, Montana. Mill Creek is popular for hiking, fly fishing, and mountain biking. The campground and cabin are great places to set up a base for exploring the drainage.
Dailey Lake is a 205-acre natural lake that sits on a bench above the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley near Emigrant, MT. The lake is popular with boaters and anglers. It has two boat ramps, a dock, an accessible fishing station, and 17 campsites. Daily Lake sits in the open with spectacular views of Emigrant Mountain.
Originally named the Paradise Access, the Dan Bailey Fishing Access Site and campground sits on the east bank of the Yellowstone River, just downstream from the Mill Creek bridge, in the middle of Paradise Valley. The site is located on Hwy 541 (East River Road) 15 miles south of Livingston. There are 4 campsites set in the trees along the river.
The Loch Leven fishing access site and campground are located on the east bank of the Yellowstone River in the middle of Paradise Valley. The site is located on Hwy 541 (East River Road) 14 miles south of Livingston. There are 17 campsites in an open field along the river. Loch Leven is a popular site for floaters and fly fishers.
Mallard’s Rest Fishing Access site sits on the Yellowstone River 12 miles south of Livingston, MT in the heart of Paradise Valley. The site features a boat ramp, access to miles of Yellowstone River fishing, and a campground with 13 campsites. Mallard’s Rest is on the banks of the Yellowstone and the Absaroka Mountains to the east are spectacular.
Tom Miner Campground is in south-central Montana close to Yellowstone Park and the Yellowstone River. The campground is on the Custer Gallatin National Forest and has 16 campsites all available on a first-come, first-served basis. A trailhead from the campground leads to the Petrified Forest Trail as well as into the wild forests of the Gallatin Range.