Introduction to the Episode
Welcome to the twenty-fifth episode of Locals Know Best! I’m your host, Cindy. I’m a full-time RVer and lover of all things travel-related. Years of adventuring on the road have taught me one fundamental lesson; locals ALWAYS know best! Every episode of this podcast will dive into one local’s perfect day of outdoor adventure in their town!
Today, I’ll be speaking with Mel Harrison about all of her favorite outdoor adventures around Livingston, Montana – aka “Big Sky Country”.
Join Mel and me as we spend a winter day cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, hiking, skiing, and ice skating all around Livingston, Montana.
Then, in the end, we’ll also delve into a few summer-weather outdoorsy activities, including fishing, floating, and hiking, that can be enjoyed in the Livingston area!
About Mel Harrison
Mel is an expert on Montana and Yellowstone outdoor recreation and has spent years exploring both for work and pleasure.
She and her family are unschoolers who have shaped their life to include year-long travels, overnight rafting trips, weekly hikes with their homeschool group, backpacking into the wilderness, cross-country skiing, and more.
At TravelingMel.com, Mel writes about her family’s adventures in Montana and worldwide.
She has also authored two guide books focusing on hiking and skiing in the Greater Yellowstone area.
Listen to the Episode
What We Cover in This Episode
- What it entails to be considered a Montanan “local.”
- What makes Livingston, Montana “eccentric,” “quirky,” and draws writers and artists.
- What makes the wilderness in Montana different than wilderness elsewhere in the world.
- Why you should be ready to be a bit “self-sufficient” when driving through Montana.
- The difference between visiting Montana during the winter or summer and why a winter visit should be considered.
- A historic hotel that’s a must-stay when in town.
- The best spot to get coffee in Livingston, Montana, where everyone knows your name – and your order.
- A breakfast destination with no menu items to order from.
- The best groomed and ungroomed nearby trails for cross-country skiing.
- How to create a feeling of “hygge” in the winter months in Montana, and why you should.
- Hiking, snowshoeing, dog sledding, downhill skiing, ice skating, and forest service cabins spots are all worth exploring nearby.
- The best places for lunch and dinner in the fine dining town of Livington, Montana.
- Two amazing hot springs locations worth exploring in both winter and summer.
- A local bartender you should visit with and order a drink from.
- Where to fish and raft in the area.
- The best bear deterrents to have with you when hiking in Montana.
- A biking path that will take you from Livingston, Montana, all the way to Yellowstone National Park.
- The best Instagram spots in town.
- The difference between what defines a trail as popular and overrated in Livingston for this local, compared to others in more populated areas.
- Why this iconic cowboy town should be explored.
Mel’s Livingston, MT Travel Itinerary Map
And as having only lived in Livingston for 20 years, we’re relative newcomers. People would not consider us locals who’ve lived here, you know, generations.Mel Harrison
Livingston has a great community. We love the people here. We love… it’s eccentric. There are some quirky folks out there. But that’s really what makes it pretty fun too.Mel Harrison
And the other thing that I’ve really realized from traveling all over the world and other places … there aren’t a lot of places that have kind of the wilderness that we have here. Where you can go into the mountains and not see anybody or see any sign of humans other than the trail or a sign for kind of a long time. And I just haven’t found places like that on our travels. So that kind of always… the wildness of it, always brings me back.Mel Harrison
That’s a good point, though, that I usually try to bring up is that there are a lot of places where you won’t get cell service. And so you need to download your Google Maps, and you need to come ready to be a little bit self-sufficient. I mean, it’s not the wild west out here, but you can’t always get what you want right away.Mel Harrison
And there’s just a really outdoors mindset here … most people who live here, not everybody, gets outside. Because I mean, what else are you going to do? Right. There’s some great restaurants. There’s a couple of small galleries. There’s a great art community here in Livingston, too. But really, if you don’t get outside, you would just go crazy here. Winters are long, and if you weren’t outside enjoying them, that’d be kind of brutal, in my opinion.Mel Harrison
So for such a small town of 7,000 people or 8,000 people, it’s pretty foodie, and there’s a lot of artists, you know, they say it’s where Cowboys and artists meet.Mel Harrison
And a lot of times, what we’ll do is maybe we’ll ski for a few hours and then come back to the car or somewhere nearby, and we’ll have a fire … and then just kind of hang around the campfire in the snow for another couple hours.Mel Harrison
I can’t imagine skiing somewhere that had lift lines. I kind of forget that that’s even a thing, but yeah, no lift lines.Mel Harrison
That Pine Creek trail I told you, it is kind of popular, but I think I sometimes forget that what I think is a lot of people on a trail might not seem like a lot of people on a trail if you’re coming from somewhere else. You know, if I see other people on the trail, it seems like too many other people on the trail, which is not, you know, which is crazy.Mel Harrison
This historic downtown of Livingston is beautiful. Once you see it, you’ll realize that, oh, I’ve seen this in other ads and commercials and things like that, because it’s so iconic with this western downtown, big mountain in the background, the neon signs, and we just have such a great community. And like I’ve said a couple of times, you know, there’s all these artists and cowboys and writers and foodies, you know, chefs and it’s this combination of all these interesting people, creative people, in this big outdoor setting that inspires it all.Mel Harrison
Links to Places Mentioned in this Episode
Where to Stay in Livingston, MT:
- Livingston Depot Center
- Dan Bailey’s Outdoor Co.
- Mill Creek Road
- B Bar Ranch
- West Boulder Campground
- Bridger Bowl Ski Area
- Showdown Mountain
- Chico Hot Springs
- Pine Creek Lake Trailhead
- Yellowstone Hot Springs
- Mallards Rest Fishing Access
- Emigrant Peak
Livingston, MT Restaurants Mentioned in this Episode:
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