Categories
Camping & Campgrounds Gardiner, Paradise Valley, Livingston

Snowbank Campground & Mill Creek Cabin

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.

Campground Details

Snowbank
Campground
SeasonMemorial Day – MId-September
Number of sites10 campsites
ReservationsYes
AmenitiesVault Toilets, Picnic tables, Fire pits, Food storage
Accessible https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_MEDIA/stelprdb5108460.pngNo
FirewoodYes – $
AttractionsHiking, Fly fishing, Mountain biking, Close to Yellowstone River and Chico Hot Springs
Nearest CityEmigrant, MT – 14 miles
Livingston, MT – 27 Miles

Directions to Snowbank Campground

Snowbank Campground is reached from US 89 in Paradise Valley at the well-signed major intersection with Mill Creek Road. The intersection is 16 miles south of Livingston and 36 miles north of Gardiner, MT. Turn east toward the mountains and cross the Yellowstone River to an intersection with Hwy 540, the East River Road. Continue straight on the Mill Creek Road which travels through ranch land as it approaches the mountains.

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After 6 miles the road changes to gravel at the Custer Gallatin National Forest boundary. From here the road is an excellent gravel road that is suitable for most vehicles in normal weather conditions. From the forest boundary, continue on Mill Creek Road (forest road 486) for about 6 miles to the Snowbank Campground. Just before the campground is the Mill Creek Rental Cabin.

Campsite Information

Snowbank Campground is pretty small with just 10 campsites for public use. There are two additional sites, one the camp hosts and the other is a group site. Each campsite has a table, a fire ring, and a bear-proof food storage cabinet. Vault toilets and water are conveniently located in the campground.

Most of the campsites are located along a road close to the creek but a couple are on a short road that heads up a bit from near the entrance. The campsites are good for tents, trailers or RV’s. However, the campground is not recommended for RV’s over 30′ in length.

Photo of typical Snowban Campground campsite with tabke, fire ring, and food storage cabinet
This is a typical campsite in the Snowbank Campground. Each site has a table, a fire ring, and a bear-proof food storage cabinet.

All of the campsites are available for advance reservation and the campground often fills during the busier time. If there are sites that are not reserved, they are released for first-come, first-served arrivals. Learn more about Snowbank Campground Reservations

Fees and Payments

For 2020 the nightly camping fee is $20.00 for a standard campsite. The fee must be paid in advance when you make your online reservations. If you arrive and find an available site you will need to pay on-site. Please bring cash for this.

Mill Creek Cabin

The US Forest Service Mill Creek Cabin is available for rent on a nightly basis. The cabin sleeps four in two sets of bunk beds. Each bed has a mattress but you must bring bedding. There is a table and chairs, electric lights and an electric range. A wood stove provides heat and a vault toilet is nearby.

The cabin is available year-round and reservations are a must. You can learn all the details about staying here at Mill Creek Cabin Reservations.

Physical Setting

The campground and cabin are both adjacent to Mill Creek which is a clear, cold mountain stream rushing out of the Absaroka Mountains. The area is heavily wooded and the campsites are set in the trees. Although the campground is wooded, several fires have burned the surrounding hills. There are regrowing forests of different ages in parts of the Mill Creek drainage.

Photo showing the entrance to Snowbank Campground with Mill Creek rushing by
Snowbank Campground is next to Mill Creek which is heading toward the Yellowstone River from its headwaters in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness.m The creek offers good fly fishing for native cutthroat trout.

This is Prime Grizzly bear territory and it’s important to always be bear aware. Keep a clean camp, store your food in the storage locker or inside a vehicle, and always carry bear spray. Yellowstone Park offers great advice for camping in bear country.

Recreation

The Snowbank Campground makes a great base camp for a variety of outdoor activities. Besides the hiking, biking, fly fishing, horse riding, and miles of gravel roads, the campground is near Chico Hot Springs and the Yellowstone River.

Hiking

Mill Creek has trails of all different lengths and difficulties. The trailhead for The Wicked Creek trail is right next to the campground. Other nearby trails include:

Passage Creek Falls – this 5-mile round trip hike isn’t very steep and takes you to a beautiful waterfall.

East Fork Mill Creek – this is a one-way hike along a trail that gradually works its way up the East Fork. Hike as far as you want before turning around. Elbow Lake is best as an overnight but strong hikers can make it a day hike.

Crow Mountain Trail – If you want to leave others behind, the Crow Mountain Trail is a lightly-used one-way trail leading into the headwaters of Mill Creek. Great hiking in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness.

Fly Fishing Mill Creek

Mill Creek has good fly fishing for native Yellowstone cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish. There are a few rainbow trout that are considered to be invasive. The creek runs pretty fast in most places and anglers have the best success by searching out the quieter pools.

All the fish in Mill Creek are wild and most are of modest size and 7″ – 10″ fish are the norm. Please practice catch & release fishing here. Mill Creek is not highly productive and it takes a long time for fish to grow to a decent size.

Mill Creek Dispersed Camping