Much of the outdoor recreation in this area takes place in the Gallatin National Forest. Check with the Livingston Ranger District, 5242 U.S. 89 S., Livingston, MT 59047 (tel. 406/222-1892; www.fs.fed.us/r1/gallatin). Another good source of information on hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing, as well as equipment rentals and sales, is Timber Trails Outdoors Co., 309 W. Park St. (tel. 406/222-9550).
Cross-Country Skiing & Showshoeing
The most popular spots are in the national forest. For specific locations and current conditions, check with the Livingston Ranger District or Timber Trails Outdoors Co.
Montana has the best trout fishing in the country, and the area around here is the best trout fishing in Montana. Livingston is the gateway to classic Montana fly-fishing in the blue-ribbon Madison River, the Paradise Valley, and the Yellowstone River. Dan Bailey's Fly Shop, 209 W. Park St. (tel. 800/356-4052; www.dan-bailey.com), in business since 1938, offers all manner of fishing tackle for sale or rent. Bailey's can give you some tips on where to fish on your own, or provide a guide for about $375 a day for one angler or $395 for two. Hatch Finders Fly Shop, 113 W. Park St., no. 3 (tel. 406/222-0989; www.hatchfinders.com), can tie your custom flies and also provide outfitters almost anywhere in the state. A full-day guided trip in the Yellowstone River area is $400 for two anglers (plus Montana fishing licenses), or $450 in Yellowstone proper.
About a quarter-mile south of town at 5256 U.S. 89 S., George Anderson's Yellowstone Angler (tel. 406/222-7130; www.yellowstoneangler.com) is another fully equipped equipment store and guide service. Anderson also offers a fly-fishing school. About 20 miles south of Livingston in the town of Pray is Knoll's Yellowstone Tackle and Fly Shop, 104 Chicory Rd. (tel. 406/333-4848; www.knolls.us). Calling itself an "honest and angler-friendly" shop, here you can learn how to cast and how feathers mysteriously become fishing flies, or purchase a handcrafted rod or reel. Take U.S. 89 south to Emigrant then east and northeast on County Road 540 to Pray.
Early-season fishing before runoff starts -- in late April and early May -- offers excellent dry fly-fishing. In late May and June, the water on most of the rivers is running high and muddy, but the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park has a heavy early hatch, and the fishing is good. All fishing in the park is catch and release. The rivers drop in July and August, and there are hatches daily for good fishing.
Hiking & Biking
This area is nearly surrounded by the Gallatin National Forest, which has several thousand miles of hiking and biking trails, including more than 800 miles of hiking trails in two designated wilderness areas -- the Lee Metcalf and Absaroka-Beartooth. Popular trails that are relatively easily accessible include Pine Creek Falls south of town off the East River Road. The falls themselves are a short walk from the campground at the end of the access road, and Pine Creek Lake is about 4 miles farther along. Livingston Peak (or Mount Baldy Trail) is east of town off Swingley Road, and the Big Timber Canyon Trail is north of the town of Big Timber. The Livingston Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service and Timber Trails Outdoors Co. can provide information about trails and access routes to them. Timber Trails also rents mountain bikes starting at about $25 per day.
Chico Hot Springs (tel. 406/333-4933), about 22 miles south of Livingston off U.S. 89 to the east, also offers horseback riding. Wilderness Pack Trips, 209 K St. (tel. 406/222-5128; www.wildernesspacktrips.com), offers 5- to 10-day horse-packing trips into Yellowstone National Park. Rates are about $2,000 to $3,000. Call or visit their website for their current schedule and availability.
Both scenic and white-water rafting and kayaking are available on the Yellowstone River throughout the Paradise Valley. Rubber Ducky River Rentals, 4 Mount Baldy Dr. (tel. 406/222-3746; www.riverservices.com), provides guided trips June through September, or will rent boats and equipment and provide river shuttles. Chico Hot Springs (tel. 406/333-4933) also offers raft trips. Call for current schedules and rates.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.