Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Living it Up in Livingston, Montana

We are sorry to be leaving Livingston, yet excited to explore more of the beautiful state of Montana. We were only going to stay in Livingston for four days but turned that soon turned into eleven days - with so much to do, a great campground, an awesome dog park, wonderful new-found friends, and the opportunity to see friends we met back in February – why leave?

Gloria and Janet (who we met at a campground in Wyoming) turned us on to Rock Canyon RV Park and did not steer us wrong with their recommendation.  We were spoiled with such beautiful views of the Yellowstone River.  The river draws you to it and I found myself frequently heading down there to look at the rushing river for wildlife.  I was frequently rewarded with the sight of swans, a merganser and her young brood, white pelicans, the moose and calf, and the black bear – say no more that that sighting takes the cake! (Check out the last blog post for more on that saga.)  Pretty soon others campers would show up and we would find ourselves lounging on the picnic table chatting away.

Roosevelt Gate
Livingston is a wonderful little town sandwiched between the Absaroka and Gallatin Ranges (of the Rocky Mountains) at the tip of Paradise Valley.  Head south 50 miles from Livingston and you will be at the northern gate of Yellowstone National Park, the site of the famous “Roosevelt Gate.”  The drive takes you through “Paradise Valley” which will take your breath away.  I don’t know the history of how the name came to be, and who cares, its stunning beauty is evidence that the valley was appropriately named.  We spent a couple of days hiking in the Gallatin National Forest and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and kept our eyes open for interesting wildlife, especially something that might make us draw our bear bomb which we were warned to always carry with us.  Nothing in the forest was ever as exciting as the moose, calf, and bear saga that unfolded at the RV park but we were just as glad to be in the woods.  There are plenty of trails and one of our favorites led us up to the serenity of the falling water of Pine Creek. 

Pine Creek Falls.  The structure in the foreground of the falls is the bridge you have to cross to continue on the trail and offers a great view and refreshing mist.
Paradise Valley
The stunning beauty is everywhere.  As is the "Big Sky" of Montana.
The omnipresent rain (and snow!) didn’t dampen our spirits and we found plenty to do by visiting the town’s museums and browsing the downtown shops.  Downtown buildings and their frontier facades have been preserved and reflect the western town atmosphere. The train depot was the hub of activity back in the early 1900’s when the Northern Pacific Railroad started bringing passengers to town and now houses a museum, restaurant, and wine boutique (all of which we visited).  Livingston was the “Gateway to Yellowstone” as it was here passengers changed trains to pick up the Park Branch Line transporting them south to the original park entrance in Gardiner.

The Livingston Depot Center decorated for Memorial Day.
The depot museum serves as a railroad history museum and community cultural center with changing exhibits.
The Yellowstone Gateway Museum, set in a 1906 school house tells the history of Park County. 
One of the downtown sights that capture the eye is the art deco sign advertising the famous Murray Hotel, located just across the street from the train depot.  The hotel opened in 1904 and provided rest to wary travelers and celebrities alike (including Buffalo Bill Cody and Calamity Jane).  The 30-room hotel has kept the historic charm but updated its rooms for luxury and comfort.  The popular bar and restaurant attract a variety of clientele and keep the street corner alive.

We like the sign over the front desk.  That probably  
still applies - after all this is Montana.
The Murray's bar has attracted not just
thirsty travelers but celebrities like Peter
Fonda, Robert Redford, and Whoopi Goldberg.        
Much of the original look of the lobby has been preserved.  The hotel housed the only elevator in Livingston and is still in use today for the 3-story hotel.
With Spirit running low on food, we ventured over to the big city of Bozeman to patron Pet Smart.  Fortunately, I was able to convince Betsy to hit Main Street for lunch and a little shopping.  She was even agreeable to go to see the Museum of the Rockies.
The Museum of the Rockies is located at the Montana State University campus and showcases exhibits on dinosaurs, Native American history, a planetarium, and living history farm. 
The museum is proud of their vast collection of dinosaur fossils and claims it is one of the most extensive collections in the world.
Some of the most famous dinosaur specimens in the world are displayed including Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops.

Personally, I liked the gun exhibits the best.

Before we tore ourselves away from Livingston, we got together with Janna and Mike, a Montana couple we met while in Cedar Key, Florida and who also write a travel blog - Tin TeePee/Log Cabin.  When we met them for the first time, we liked them immediately so we were over joyed when they emailed us and wanted to meet for dinner.  It was great catching up with them, hearing about their travels and RV’ing plans and living in Montana.  I’m sure we will see them somewhere along the road.  Thanks to Janna for helping ease my blogging troubles.

Mike and Janna Clark, me, and Gail and Matt Mastin.  Gail (who also blogs at Retired Voyager) was the catalyst for our meeting in Cedar Key, FL.  Great to meet such wonderful fun people on the road!
We look forward to exploring Ennis and other Montana towns and hope we meet as many nice people as we did in Livingston.

More pictures of Livingston and Paradise Valley.
Pine Creek Trail.

Spirit patiently waiting for us to catch up on
the Pine Creek trail.  The views and "smells"
of the pines were wonderful.

The Yellowstone River running adjacent to the campground.
The area is loaded with trails so bring your hiking shoes.
Yes that is snow falling on Spirit.
Water dog looking for something to retrieve.

Some of the movie was filmed in Livingston.
Rock Canyon RV Park.
Spirits favorite place - the dog park.  Usually lots of dogs and a great view of the Crazy Mountain Range.
Fresh snow made the mountains glisten.

1 comment:

  1. I stumbled on your blog this evening and I must say that these are some of the most beautiful pics I've seen. I have to put Montana on our bucket list. I look forward to seeing more.


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