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Camping & Campgrounds Gardiner, Paradise Valley, Livingston

2023 Free Camping near Yellowstone Park, Gardiner & Paradise Valley

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.

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News & Notes

Free Camping – Paradise Valley, Gardiner, MT, Livingston, MT

Most visitors look for private or national forest campgrounds when they visit the Gardiner, Livingston, Paradise Valley area 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.

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Central Montana Hikes & Attractions Yellowstone Area Hikes and Attractions

Sioux Charley Lake – Stillwater River Trail

2023 Update – Following the historic flood of 2022, the Stillwater River Trail parking area and trailhead are closed. The trail itself is closed through the Gorge section but the bypass trail can be used to access the trail past the gorge.

photo of badly flood damaged parking lot at Stillwater River Trailhead
These photos show the damage to the parking lot/trailhead area for the Stillwaer River trail.

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The Stillwater River trail provides great hiking into the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. While the trail leads to amazing riches for backpackers, there is a very popular day hike to Sioux Charley Lake. It’s a 3-mile hike on a good trail that climbs gradually for the entire distance. The trail includes a narrow gorge with raging whitewater, great mountain views, and a stream that becomes a wide, flat lake.

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Camping & Campgrounds Gardiner, Paradise Valley, Livingston

Bear Creek & Timber Camp Campgrounds

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.

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Red Lodge Area Yellowstone Area Hikes and Attractions

Woodbine Falls Trail #93

As of early July 2023, the Woodbine Falls Trail is closed due to a washed-out bridge. The campground has reopened after the historic flooding in 2022 but the Woodbine Falls trail and the Stillwater River trail and trailhead remain closed. The US Forest Service is working on repairs and you can get the current status from the USFS at 406-446-2103

Woodbine Campground

Woodbine Falls Trail #93, Woodbine Campground, and the Stillwater River Trail # 24 are all closed for 2023 until further notice. Historic flooding in mid-June 2022 washed out the road and it may not be repaired until 2024. For the current status call the US Forest Service at 406-446-2103

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Livingston & Paradise Valley Yellowstone Area Hikes and Attractions

East Fork Mill Creek Trail # 41

Mill Creek is the largest tributary to the Yellowstone River between Livingston, MT and Yellowstone Park. It’s one of the few places where roads penetrate into the national forest and there are lots of trails to enjoy. The East Fork of Mill Creek trailhead provides access to a major trail system in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness.

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Red Lodge Area Yellowstone Area Hikes and Attractions

Best Guide to Beartooth Highway and Beartooth Pass [2023]

The Beartooth Highway (US Hwy 212), also known as the Beartooth All American Highway is one of the most spectacular routes in the continental United States. The highway travels through high-altitude wilderness terrain for 63 miles between Red Lodge, MT and the North East Entrance to Yellowstone Park at Silver Gate, MT. This guide travels the road beginning in Red Lodge and ending in Yellowstone Park but it can easily be driven in reverse

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Beartooth Pass Camping & Campgrounds Red Lodge

Guide To Beartooth Highway Camping and Campgrounds [2023]

There are many public campgrounds along the Beartooth Highway. Which one is best for you will depend on a number of factors. To help you choose we’ve prepared this guide to the public campgrounds along the route. There is a page of additional information about each of these campgrounds – just click on the campground name to learn more

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Red Lodge Area

Exploring the West Fork Rock Creek – Red Lodge, MT

2022 Flooding and Road Closures

In mid-June, 2022 massive flooding hit the Rock Creek drainage resulting in significant damage to roads and bridges. As of mid-July, the West Fork Rock Creek Road is closed from the Basin Campground (mile 7.2) to the end of the road. For current information contact the Beartooth Ranger District at 406-446-2103.

Rock Creek drains the Beartooth Mountains south and west of Red Lodge MT. and the West Fork Rock Creek is its longest and largest tributary. The two branches join just outside of Red Lodge. The West Fork offers opportunities for camping, fishing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, skiing, and enjoying a wilderness setting.

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Some links on this site are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!