Montana : Safety by City
- Big Sky
- Great Falls
- Miles City
- West Yellowstone
Anyone visiting the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park will need to go through Livingston, Montana, to get there.
Let’s talk about some of the reasons you might want to make a stop in this small town.
For one reason, it’s just south of Crazy… the Crazy Mountains, that is.
It’s also at the cusp of Custer Gallatin National Forest and a short drive from some of the best skiing in Montana!
This is a town that might not exist if not for the railroad that first brought people to visit Yellowstone National Park.
That railroad history is alive and well, preserved in a restored train depot, as is the connection to America’s First National Park through the Yellowstone Gateway Museum.
Once you’re outside the charming town with Western vibes, you’re in the middle of the best outdoor activities for any season.
Just 30 minutes from Billings, you’re close to other cities that make Montana so blessed under the Big Sky Country skies.
Whether you want to climb a mountain peak or dip into a valley for rafting or fishing, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Livingston and beyond.
Warnings & Dangers in Livingston
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There is a low risk here, with violent crime being below the national average even when considering the low population size when adjusted to per 100,000.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The Streamline Bus is a public transportation system throughout the city and region, but check the schedule for seasonal availability. Taxis and rideshares are available, but having a rental car is your best option to explore as much as you want on your schedule.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Over the past five years, the city has seen one pickpocket and one purse snatching each year. That's still a low risk, but many towns of this size haven't reported any in the past five years. Just use your standard caution, and you'll be fine.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
The Park County Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) details the following hazards—wildfire, extreme wind, winter storms/extended cold, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, flooding, drought, and avalanche. Those are all either considered high or moderate risks, so plan accordingly.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
This is a low risk, with no muggings reported in the past decade. While you always want to be aware of your surroundings, there's no overwhelming risk here.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Terrorism is a low risk according to the EOP, but the same advice goes for everyone—if you see something suspicious, say something.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Rental scams are the biggest risk here, but with some simple guidelines, you can keep the risk low. Never wire money to book a rental and always ask for a rental permit, and insist on a video call with the person renting the home. This will weed out potential scammers.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
This is another low-risk, but women still need to know wilderness, wildlife, and weather safety. It's best to go into the wild with two other people, as larger groups help in case of emergencies or wildlife interactions.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. There is one note about arsenic detected in the water supply. It is not above the legal amount, and there is no imminent risk, but it's information many people might consider when choosing if they'll drink tap or bottled water. If you have any questions about the water quality here, you're asked to call (406)222-5667.
Safest Places to Visit in Livingston
VisitLivingstonmt.com is the official tourism website for the city and the immediate surrounding area.
The same name is on the Facebook page, with tourism updates throughout the year.
Visit Billings is the tourist site for that city, and reviewing both sites is a greater look at the whole region.
Before West Yellowstone took the name, Livingston was known as the Gateway to Yellowstone.
There’s a museum that celebrates the city’s rich connection with the park and includes artifacts and exhibits about the Native Americans, pioneers, settlers, and evolution of this railroad town once poised to be the largest city in the West.
The Livingston Depot Center must be on your list, as this was *the place back to be at the turn of the century in 1902.
You’ll notice the streets of the city are pretty robust for a small town, and that’s because the plan was to make Livingston a large city as the heyday of the railroad brought more people than the town could fit!
Check the schedule at the Livingston Center for Art & Culture, as anything from painted art to wildlife exhibits can funnel through here.
It’s all about celebrating the artistic lifestyle of this unique corner of the country.
Summer visitors shouldn’t miss a chance to visit the Music Ranch, an entertainment venue literally blasted into the Montana wilderness in Livingston.
As a full-service meal venue, you can make a full night on the town or even keep your RV there overnight in this “God-splashed setting.”
The Yellowstone River runs along the southern edge of the town, and there are several tour guides who can take you rafting or horseback riding.
Custer Gallatin National Forest is right next to Livingston, and you’ll find information on the Forest Service website.
With more than three million acres, there’s a lot to consider when planning a trip to Custer Gallatin.
There are also a lot of great rewarding activities waiting to be safely explored.
Bridger Bowl is the closest ski resort to Livingston.
With more than 300 inches of snow each year and more than 75 trails, there’s a ride for everyone during the seasonal dates.
More daring (and experienced) skiers can ride Ridge Terrain with the backcountry elements within a ski resort.
Places to Avoid in Livingston
You don’t need to worry about bad parts of town or dangerous neighborhoods.
This is a small town that makes it impossible to avoid any section, but it’s always best to stay on main roads and highways.
As Montana keeps growing, tourists should be welcomed guests and not intrude on the neighborhood’s quality of life.
Check the status of the Crazy Mountain (aka The Crazies) land swap proposal from the Forest Service to see what access is available at the time of your visit.
In the past, the surrounding private land has made visiting this unique mountain area challenging or risky, as even assumed public trails were shut down by private owners.
The land swap would guarantee public access, but as of this publication, negotiation is still underway.
Before you Google “How did the Crazy Mountains get that name?”, let me help you.
There are enough stories about it to drive you crazy, but the most common one involved a woman who saw her family murdered by Native Americans and went crazy with an ax, then retreating to her home, crazy with grief and never to be disturbed again.
Some people also refer to them as Crazy Woman Mountain.
What’s really crazy (in a good way) is the peaks as pointed as a meringue on a pie.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Livingston
- Livingston has its own police force, and each year it posts an annual report to summarize the previous year’s successes and challenges. You’ll also get the most updated crime data. The department is one Facebook @LivingstonPDMT.
- Check 511 MT to get the latest road conditions, especially if you’re visiting in winter or after a big storm/wildfire. Roads can be closed during winter storms, and that includes I-90. Wildfire smoke can limit visibility, and one big accident can shut down roads for hours.
- Inciweb is the official website to track wildfires in the Western US. You have to keep an eye on the skies and Inciweb to see where fires are burning or where Red Flag Warnings are issued. Air quality can also be impacted by wildfire far away if the smoke is carried on the jet stream.
- An avalanche transceiver (457 kHz) is required for all skiers and snowboarders to visit the challenging ski area of Ridge Terrain. There are no hazard warnings or marked trails here. You ski at your own (and extreme) risk.
- Before you even think of backcountry skiing, look up “Saddle Peak Avalanche” on YouTube and see the numerous avalanches, including deaths, that have happened on that mountain. If you aren’t an expert, it’s not a mountain you should go anywhere near.
- To get a fishing license, you’ll need to visit the Montana Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Parks. All anglers need a license and ID at all times. If you’re going on a guided fishing tour, ask the tour operator if they provided the license fee as part of the cost.
- Follow the city of Livingston on Facebook @windycitymt. While there might be boring stuff like City Council updates, there’s also important information, like in 2022 when raccoons sick with distemper were found in the city. Never feed a raccoon or touch it, even if it looks sick or injured. Call (406) 222-2050 instead.
- Speaking of animals you shouldn’t feed, this is a bear country. Bears like to eat, and they’re pretty good at sniffing out your food if you don’t use bear-proof containers and trash cans. Study bear safety and how to use the bear spray before you visit. Always carry bear spray with you in the wild. A 40-year-old man from Livingston was killed by a bear in March 2022, so don’t make jokes about bears either. It was devastating for this small community.
- Book your lodging and rental car as early as possible. Montana has seen an influx of residents and visitors since the pandemic. Rental cars can quickly sell out, especially being this close to Yellowstone. Gas up every time you get to half a tank because gas stations can be few and far between. You also don’t want to lose your spot in traffic just because you waited too long to get gas.
- This area was among the places hit hard by catastrophic flooding in 2022. While the main attractions and roads are open, there will be places impacted by the 500-year flood for years to come. Always check the trail conditions of a park or river spot before you go.
So... How Safe Is Livingston Really?
Livingston is an average city when it comes to safety, and there’s more potential for crime than is reflected in the crime data.
If you use common sense and personal safety measures, you’ll be safe too.
There’s even a crime prevention section on the police department’s website.
Theft is the one category that is above the national average, but over the past five years, shoplifting has accounted for 20% of thefts.
17% of the thefts were related to car break-ins or car accessory thefts.
If you’re staying at a hotel, be sure you park under a streetlight and ideally within view of your hotel room.
Never leave anything inside your vehicle, and always lock it with the windows rolled up.
Don’t leave a car running to warm up, no matter how cold it is outside.
One challenge in Livingston and all of Montana is drug use and drug crimes, which lead to other types of crime.
The criminals are also causing a huge problem with overdoses, as fentanyl is mixed in with street drugs and illegal prescription drugs.
The user has no idea the lethal dose is in there, and even law enforcement is baffled at the rate of increase involved drug crimes, overdoses, and deaths.
“It’s increasing year, after year, after year; we’re seeing addiction rates that are higher than ever, caseloads that are higher than ever,” Park County Sheriff Brad Bichler said.
You also have the risk in the wilderness, whether it’s a bear who didn’t hear you coming or a mountain that’s unstable with snowpack.
Research every aspect of outdoor activities here, as this region has so much beauty, but there are dangers within.
How Does Livingston Compare?
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- Visas - A passport and visa or visa waiver are required to get into the United States, and that's the same if you fly into the country or cross over from Canada. The U.S. State Department expedited some of the arduous processes for getting a visa at the start of 2023, so check its website before you apply.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency you can use here. We strongly recommend taking care of that in your home city using your own bank since they'll give you the lowest fees and have the time to gather the currency you need. Whenever possible, pay with a credit card for the best fraud protection. Stolen cash is unlikely to be seen again.
- Weather - Study winter weather layers and pack accordingly. You'll need waterproof boots with ankle support. Even hot summer days can have chilly nights. Livingston is at 4,500 feet above sea level, but some of the mountain peaks are more than 11,000 feet tall. You'll benefit from sunscreen year-round.
- Airports - Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is 40 minutes away on the other side of Bozeman. That's the best option anywhere in this region.
- Travel Insurance - Get travel insurance for flights and rental cars, but consider adventure insurance if you're going to be backcountry skiing or camping. Even a twisted ankle can cost a lot of out of pocket in the American healthcare system.
Livingston Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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