When it comes to exploring Paradise Valley, many envision themselves traipsing around the splendid countryside in the summer months, soaking in the warmth and the incredible scenery at every turn. And while summer in Paradise Valley is certainly something to experience, winter and spring also offer a variety of unique experiences that aren’t to be missed out on. We like to think of these seasons in the Valley as well-kept secrets, with less tourists standing shoulder to shoulder and just as many stunning sights to behold. That’s why we’ve put together a list of our favorite to-do’s and must-see spots during the shoulder months for the perfect day in Paradise Valley.
When it comes to where to eat and drink across the Valley, visitors have a surprising number of options, from quick bites to white tablecloths. Like most things in the part of the state, you’ll find the best spots from speaking with locals, as opposed to what you might pull up in a quick Google search.
Tucked on a corner of downtown Livingston, this tiny little café offers some of the best coffee on this side of the state. Livingston is just a quick thirty minutes from the Bozeman area as you head towards Yellowstone and offers some great hidden gems like this one. They’re espresso is rich and full of flavor, and the service has that great local town feel.
Also located off the main drag in downtown Livingston, Gil’s has become a staple in the local community and is one that any passerby doesn’t want to skip. Attached to the historic Murray bar, Gil’s boasts an atmosphere of an old delicatessen, with original brick walls, barrels of goods stacked inside, and an open, wood-fired oven that fills the place with the cozy smell of burning wood to welcome you in out of the cold.
One of our favorite past times for the winter season, no matter where you find yourself in the state, is a good soak. Paradise Valley offers some of the best spots for you to settle in and simmer as you appreciate Montana’s incredible scenery from its naturally warm waters.
Located in Pray, MT, Chico Hot Springs is a resort that has been around for over 100 years. With more of a low-key vibe, this one is great for families looking to get away for a bit. The natural hot springs have been constructed into a system of pools, offering visitors both indoor and outdoor options to enjoy.
If you’re looking for more of an upscale experience, or perhaps even a romantic getaway, we can’t recommend Sage Lodge enough. This luxury resort offers plenty to do in winter but sitting in your own private hot tub might just take the cake. Nestled at the foothills of the Mount Emigrant, visitors can sip champagne as they soak up not just the warm waters but some of the most breathtaking views Paradise Valley has to offer.
If you’re looking for more of an adventure when it comes to a good soak, we couldn’t recommend The Boiling River more. Located near the entrance of Yellowstone Park, this natural hot spring is tucked right in the middle of the wilderness, and forms when rushing glacier water mixes with boiling hot geyser water from deep underground, forming the perfect natural hot tub. While you’re relaxing, be sure to keep your eyes peeled. Visitors might get lucky enough to see elk or other wildlife making their way through the park.
For those looking for something a little faster paced than lunching or soaking, there are endless activities to be had throughout Paradise Valley in the cold and thawing months. These vary across all levels of physical fitness and offer all kinds of opportunities, from the family friend to the thrill-inducing.
While summertime brings the animals out in droves, the winter and spring in Montana still offer their own unique blend of wildlife for some incredible viewing. Visit the Grizzly and Wolf Observatory in Yellowstone to see these incredible animals in their natural habitat. Or, for a more private experience, opt for Yellowstone’s private Winter Safari, which includes hotel pickup, meals provided, and the chance to view elk, bison, mule deer, big horn sheep, grey wolves, and more.
Snowshoeing is a great way to get out into the countryside during the winter months without having to strap on the skis. Explore remote territory throughout Yellowstone’s vast landscape or keep it simple with provided snowshoeing trails that can be found a little closer to town. Some of these include Suce Creek just outside of Livingston, East Fort Mill Creek for a more remote experience with less traffic. And when the snow begins to melt, these make great, easy hiking trials as well.
Whether you’re looking for more relaxing outing or on the hunt for adventure in the shoulder season, Paradise Valley offers something for everyone. What will you discover?