For many generations, the Crow Indian Tribe inhabited the greater Yellowstone region, utilizing the vast natural resources and enjoying the relatively mild climate of the Paradise Valley and the bountiful game that inhabited this rich ecosystem. The region was later settled by gold miners and then ranchers, and ultimately Livingston became a major railroad town. Ranching remains a substantial economic driver of the economy today. However, there has always been a recreational influence in the area, primarily created by the fishing on its fabled river and access to Yellowstone National Park.
The north entrance south of Riverhouse is the only route into the park that remains open all year. Paradise Valley, which begins south of Livingston at a pleasant 4,000+ foot elevation, follows the Yellowstone River corridor upstream to the south all the way to the park border. There are several landmark ranches that line the valley, some of which are fourth generation family holdings.
Over the decades some of the prominent ranches traded hands, passing the legacy along to new owners who share the concepts of passing land down through the generations and leaving it better than they found it - even though many now are nonresident owners. There is a wide variety of land uses in the valley, from large operating cattle ranches to smaller mountain tracts and even traditional guest ranches.
As has been the case for many years, there remains a handful of large ranches that take up a significant portion of the valley that rarely are offered for sale. Significantly, these landscapes are protected against development through conservation easements.
Over the last 50 years, the town of Livingston has transitioned from a rough-and-tumble cowboy/railroad town to a modern-day community, while still preserving its historical integrity and western authenticity. Unlike many of Montana’s rural communities, which oftentimes are solely driven by an agricultural economy, Livingston has been a recreational hub for nearly a century. As a result of the Paradise Valley’s fabulous fishing resources, it has collected a hardcore base of “trout bums”, more gently referred to as “full-time anglers,” who share residence with the wide assortment of writers, actors, musicians and artists who now give Livingston its own unique character as a town.
Livingston is a “dress down,” very unpretentious community where even the most notable characters living there prefer to just blend in. There is an assortment of fine restaurants that offer exceptional food and spirits in an elegant yet casual setting. It is even typical to see musicians of great fame and renown sitting in at some of the local watering holes.
The historic downtown district is well preserved and plays host to a wide variety of boutiques, galleries, restaurants and bars. The Yellowstone River flows right through town with a large park, fairground and golf course located along its banks. During the summer months, Livingston offers gallery walks and concerts - including blues shows - at the historic Livingston Depot. Perhaps highlighting the season is the Livingston Roundup which is a professional multi-day rodeo event held over the 4th of July, inviting some the nation’s top-ranked cowboys and livestock, followed by an impressive fireworks display.
A short distance north of the Riverhouse is Chico Hot Springs. Chico was developed a century ago over a naturally emergent hot springs and was used by local miners and travelers into the park. It began as a bathhouse and bar, eventually becoming a brothel, and ultimately a full-blown resort while still retaining its integrity. The old hotel has been carefully maintained providing visitors the feeling of days past.
The saloon has virtually not changed at all with its “seasoned” wooden floors and small stage that has showcased many decades of local talent. The resort has been expanded with separate modern rooms and a conference center but was done in a way that does not disrupt the old flavor. Its highly regarded gourmet restaurant – arguably Montana’s first such establishment – draws local diners from a 100-mile radius.
There are a variety of more recent additions to the valley that offer dining and lodging options including Sage Lodge (five minutes north of the property), Yellowstone Valley Lodge (ten minutes), Pine Creek Café (15 minutes) and a couple of great options in Emigrant including a “real BBQ joint” and the Old Saloon which is a landmark watering hole and restaurant to the valley. The variety of quality food this proximal to a rural property such as this is virtually unheard of throughout our market.
Just an hour “over the hill” from Riverhouse is Bozeman, which is a tremendous community of nearly 38,000 residents plus a student population at Montana State University. It serves as a hub for Yellowstone Park as well as the Big Sky Resort area. It has a well-preserved historic downtown district, a wide variety of fine restaurants, boutique shops, and outdoor stores. On the north end of town, there are a series of large, national chain stores for everyday necessities. Bozeman is a lovable town with a perpetual flow of events, activities and a flavorful atmosphere.
As is typical for most of the Rocky Mountain region, weather patterns are unpredictable. Temperatures can sink well below zero in the winter and climb into the 90’s during the late summer months. Overall, most people find that the low relative humidity maintains a comfortable environment even during these extreme times and typically average temperatures remain at pleasant levels throughout the year.
The lower elevation of the valley floor provides extended shoulder seasons and is recognized as one of Montana’s “banana belts” holding minimal amounts of snow through the winter months and somewhat warmer temperatures.
Total annual precipitation is estimated to be 18.5 inches. Snowfall in the lower to mid elevations of the surrounding area is light throughout the winter with greater accumulations on the upper reaches. The snow will accumulate briefly and virtually all of it will evaporate throughout the winter months with the occasional warm Chinook winds causing large temperature swings and evaporating what little snowfall remains. Most of the annual precipitation comes in the form of rainfall occurring during the growing season - much of it in May and June.