East to Eden

The winter wonderland of Paradise Valley.

Whatever you’re looking for this season, Paradise Valley has you covered. Just a short jaunt over the pass, this amazing swath of grandeur between Livingston and Gardiner offers major recreation, complete with postcard-worthy views in every direction. Here are our favorite ways to spend winter weekends in the shadow of the Absarokas.

Ice Fishing
Grab some pals, set up a hut, and drop a line through the ice. Near the teensy town of Emigrant, Dailey Lake produces perch, trout, and sometimes walleye—and there’s plenty to go around. Grab some Swedish Pimples and maggots, and let the fish do the rest. Don’t forget the beer and a five-gallon bucket to sit on.

Bird Watching
Many raptors spend the summer in Alaska, migrating to Paradise Valley for the winter; there’s also a resident bird population that never leaves. Red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, and golden eagles can all be seen in their natural habitat, feasting on small mammals easily visible against the snow.

The Absarokas provide a stunning backdrop for sledheads enjoying the area’s ample snowfall. The Mill Creek area offers 20 miles of trails, and snow-packed roads and off-trail options abound in every direction. Make a weekend of it and rent out the Forest Service’s Mill Creek Cabin.

XC Skiing & Snowshoeing
The trails are plenty and the crowds are few, so get out into the woods for a quiet afternoon. Some of these trails are ungroomed, so be prepared. Suce Creek Ski Trail is lovely and gets little use—perfect for solitude-seekers. Farther down Hwy. 89, you’ll find the Mill Creek Ski Trails—a network of snowy paths winds through this beautiful area, enough to take up a whole weekend.

Ice Climbing
The Pine Creek area is less crowded than other local ice-climbing destinations, but still holds equally beautiful routes. Green Gully is a must-do for ice addicts, and the (sometimes) two-pitch Pine Creek Falls follows beautiful lines with quick access from the trailhead. The routes around the South Fork of Pine Creek are tough, edgier climbs—totally worth it to round out your day. Starting at the Pine Creek trailhead, you’ll get your first glimpses of the routes about a mile up the trail.

What day/weekend/week in Paradise Valley would be complete without a dip in Chico Hot Springs? Chico offers live music and dancing on the weekends, a spring-heated outdoor pool, a variety of rooms and cabins, and a restaurant brimming with Montana atmosphere. We call this a perfect way to bid farewell to Paradise Valley… until next time.