Autumn in Livingston

With the Absaroka mountains as a backdrop, Livingston already beckons visitors, but the little town along the big bend of the Yellowstone River also offers a historic downtown district, a vibrant arts scene, and outdoor activities from fishing and floating to hunting and hiking. It’s the perfect place to enjoy Montana this fall.

Livingston is an old railroad town gaining a reputation as a regional arts center, in part through activities like the Livingston Artwalk, organized by the Livingston Gallery Association (the Artwalk has been characterized as more of a block party than an art exhibit, becoming more popular every year). The Gallery Association is also working with area museums to provide a historic glimpse into the Livingston area’s art and culture. And though the passenger trains are gone, the historic Livingston Depot Center, built in the early 1900s, has also stayed alive through the arts, both visual and performing.

“You have to be pretty tenacious to make a living [with art] around here,” says Gary Holland, who owns the Shining Mountain Gallery in the Paradise Valley. But that uncertain market doesn’t seem to discourage the region’s many artists: Holland says he knows of at least “two dozen full-time and 200 part-time” artists who call the Livingston area home.

Livingston’s downtown area is also home to many historic structures, such as the Murray Hotel and the Mint Bar. Both Livingston residents and city government have worked hard to make sure downtown retains its historic flavor.

“There’s no need to rebuild the wheel here,” says Karyle Frazier of Vision Livingston, a downtown partnership formed in 2006 to help keep downtown Livingston historically intact. “The work’s been done…we’re just building on what’s been done.” She says that “citizen input is a must absolutely” regarding preservation and remodeling downtown.

“It’s moving along well. We’re making progress,” Frazier says. “Come down and enjoy our lovely parks and our history in downtown Livingston.”

Livingston’s parks, such as Sacajawea Park in the heart of town, give visitors access to one of southwest Montana’s real treasures, the Yellowstone River. Whether by raft or canoe, the Yellowstone is a great float in the fall—the water is clear, the leaves of the cottonwood trees along the river’s edge are turning color with the season, and best of all, the big brown trout are moving with the fall spawn, offering anglers a great opportunity to catch the big one. The river and its tributaries and backwaters in the Livingston area also give hunters some great access to waterfowl and whitetail deer. Be sure to check the hunting regulations and property maps before heading out.

Whether along the river or in the mountains, hiking and biking opportunities also abound in the Livingston area for those outdoor enthusiasts who are not after fish or game, and photographers may find themselves in heaven with the vistas presented to them.

“Livingston’s the place for a taste of Montana,” says Frazier. “Stop in, stay awhile, and enjoy our hospitality this fall.”