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.
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.
Pine Creek rushes out of the Absaroka mountains just south of Livingston, MT in Paradise Valley. Pine Creek Campground is at the end of a 3-mile paved road leading into the national forest. The campground has 27 sites set in the forest near the creek. The Pine Creek trailhead is adjacent to the campground and leads to Pine Creek Falls and Pine Creek Lake.
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
Rock Creek runs through Red Lodge, MT and the Beartooth Highway (US 212) follows the creek as it heads toward the switchbacks that climb steeply to the Beartooth Pass. Rock Creek is popular with campers who enjoy the area’s many recreation opportunities and also by travelers on the Beartooth Highway.
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.
Cascade Creek Campground is located on the West Fork Rock Creek about 11 miles west of Red Lodge, MT. Nestled in the Beartooth Mountains at 7,600 ft, Cascade Creek Campground features great hiking, fishing, and mountain biking opportunities.
The Basin Campground is on the West Fork Rock Creek at 6,800 ft elevation. The 30 campsites are enjoyed by hikers, anglers, and mountain bikers. The campground is in the Custer Gallatin National Forest and is close to the Beartooth Highway and Red Lodge, MT making it a popular destination.
The Palisades Campground is located 1.5 miles from the West Fork Road (West Fork Rock Creek) and just 3.5 miles from Red Lodge, MT. It’s a rather primitive campground with few amenities but there is no camping fee.