Paradise Valley is known for its beauty. There's a reason they named the valley what they did. Between mountains and wild rivers with spectacular waterfalls, animal activity, wildflowers, and world-famous geology, there's a little something for every nature lover. The best part? You can experience an immense amount of this natural allure from the comfort of your car. Enjoy a few of these scenic drives around the impressive views.
The casual researcher can find many explanations for how the Crazy Mountains got their name. But no matter which origin story you prefer, they certainly make an impression. Head east on I-90 to the junction with Highway 89 N, and head up the road with the Crazies to your right. Pass through small towns and communities as you enjoy the changing views. After you pass through Wilsall, you'll take Highway 86, or Flathead Creek Road, which will loop you to the west and south along the eastern side of the Bridger Mountain Range before depositing you in Bozeman near I-90.
The total trip should take about two hours, so if you plan a half-day for the drive, you'll still have time for short hikes and panoramic photo ops.
If the season is right (meaning the road is open and clear of snow), the Beartooth Highway allows you to drive above 10,000 feet in elevation and take in dazzling views of craggy mountains. Drive from Livingston to Gardiner, where you'll enter the park and head through the Lamar Valley to Cooke City. From there, you're taking Highway 212 to Red Lodge, the section known as the Beartooth Highway, where you should expect tight corners, panoramas that you would expect from an airplane, and steep climbs not for the faint-of-horsepower. From there, your route will take you north again to I-90.
This is an impressive day's journey, so expect at least six hours of driving time, without taking scenery stops into account. You'll want to bring the road trip snacks and plan for picnicking pit stops along the way.
The Paradise Valley speaks for itself, with the driving route taking you through ranchland and wilderness on the way to the town of Gardiner, at the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park.
This course follows the winding Yellowstone river, and elk sightings, bison herds, and plenty of pronghorn are a common occurrence. If your day's plans don't take you into the national park, you can still enjoy the striking setting of the area. On your way back to Livingston, take Highway 540 on the east side of the river for a different perspective on the valley, with slower speed limits and plenty of opportunities to stop and smell the wildflowers.
It's only about an hour from Livingston to Gardiner, so you can take it slow and enjoy your time passing through one of the country's most beautiful areas on this two-hour round trip.
If you're heading south through the Paradise Valley from Livingston already, you may as well just keep driving into Yellowstone. Once inside the world's first national park, you can make several loops to take in the scenery, wildlife, and geothermal wonders that Yellowstone is known for.
When you enter the park in Gardiner, you can make an out-and-back trip down the Lamar Valley. You can make a grand loop through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, down to Old Faithful and back up the west side of the park, or you can crisscross your way across the landscape in any number of ways, taking a few hours, all day, or a lifetime of exploration.
Whether you are coming for an adventure, or just passing through, we have eight properties in Gardiner, Bozeman, and Bigfork to help you feel at home while you are on the road. Click here to book now.