Whether it’s being referred to as South-Central Montana or Yellowstone Country, both names reflect the same region of the state. This part of Montana stands out with the stunning natural beauty of its rivers, mountains and lakes. Fittingly, outdoor recreation reigns supreme here and likewise, Montana’s reverence for its western history and culture cannot be overstated.
There’s a lot to love about South-Central Montana, right here in Livingston – home to United Country Real Estate | Yellowstone Real Estate Group – and elsewhere across the region.
Let’s take a closer look at the appeal of Montana’s Yellowstone Country for residents and visitors alike.
The city of Livingston offers a great example of what South-Central Montana is all about — incomparable scenery, endless opportunity for outdoor recreation, and a lively and traditional western spirit. These are among the reasons Montana is sometimes called, “The Last Best Place.”
Livingston sits on the banks of the Yellowstone River and Yellowstone National Park covers some of Park County here, offering incredible trout fishing, trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, and other adventures. Less than an hour’s drive northwest of Livingston in Bozeman, Missouri River Headwaters State Park is where the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin rivers merge. This 530-acre park features campgrounds, interpretive historical and cultural displays, and waterways ideal for fishing or floating.
Around 25 miles south of Big Timber, the spectacular Natural Bridge Falls is a 105-foot waterfall rushing from the Boulder River. A short, easy trail and popular picnic area surround the falls. Anglers cast for native cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish, while experienced whitewater kayakers brave the Upper Boulder River.
Many of these areas connect to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness (named as such for the region’s Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains), which includes Granite Peak, Montana’s tallest mountain at 12,807 feet. Hikers can search for Absaroka-Beartooth’s trails by location, difficulty level and rating.
If hunting is your aim, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) Division’s Region 5 is here in the heart of Yellowstone Country. Check out the group’s page to find the top spots for hunting upland game birds, deer, antelope, elk and bear. New to the area? Consider one of the region’s many guides and outfitters to help with your hunt. Come wintertime, Montana offers top-rated ski resorts including Big Sky Ski Resort about an hour-and-a-half from Livingston, and Bridger Bowl in Bozeman.
With classic Yellowstone Country cities such as Livingston and the lively college town of Bozeman (home to Montana State University), South-Central Montana offers an engaging combination of the Old West and modern convenience. You can stroll charming downtown areas with local shops, soak in the healing hot springs, or check out one of the popular annual festivals. In addition, area museums and other venues offer a deep dive into history, art and culture.
Agriculture is a big part of South-Central Montana’s economy, even on a local level since seasonal farmers markets are always a hit. Start with the Livingston Farmers Market (open June to mid-September), one of at least 10 in the region. Or leave the cooking to others by exploring the diverse restaurants and bars in Bozeman.
If cowboy culture is what you seek, the Livingston Roundup Rodeo offers some of the best events in Yellowstone Country. The Sweet Grass Fest in Big Timber celebrates more than 100 years of rodeo tradition each June, while the Valley View Rodeo in Three Forks holds weekly competitions.
Perhaps the most popular museum in South-Central Montana, the Museum of the Rockies is a world-class cultural and natural history museum, and a member of the Montana Dinosaur Trail. The aptly-named Crazy Mountains Museum covers the history of Sweet Grass County, and the Museum of the Yellowstone is all about the history of Yellowstone National Park. If you’re into art, the region has its fair share of galleries and art walks.
In a state with a relatively small population, everyone seems to show up for Montana’s local events and annual festivals. Music is often at the forefront, with the free Music in the Mountains series, Bozeman’s Sweet Pea Festival in August and Livingston’s Yellowstone Harvest Festival in September. Other fan favorites include the Big Sky Country State Fair in July and by early December, communities everywhere sparkle with their Christmas Strolls.