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.
Halfmoon Campground is located at the Big Timber Creek Access on the east side of the Crazy Mountains north of Big Timber, MT. There are 12 campsites set in a scenic forested canyon. There are no reservations – all sites are first-come, first-served. The campground has vault toilets and hand-pumped water in the summer. Campsites have picnic tables, fire rings, and bear-proof food storage cabinets.
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.
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.
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
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.