We often say that our small towns are the heart of Yellowstone Country, but what makes them so special are the people who call them home—the hard-working, fiercely dedicated folks who are so passionate about this amazing place, they’re committed to protecting, preserving, exploring and celebrating it. These folks live here because they love it here, and they understand the value of open space, natural resources, wildlife habitat, big skies, peace and quiet, walking in the woods, unplugging in order to connect. Yellowstone Country is pretty darn phenomenal on its own, but it’s got soul because of these fine individuals.
Chip & Jenny
Pine Creek Lodge
Shauna White Bear:
White Bear Moccasins
Kara Tripp and Lynae Axelson:
Damsel Fly Fishing
Fishtail General Store
Easy Tours Yellowstone
Brad and Cyndi Edward:
Elk River Outfitters
Pine Creek Lodge sits in the heart of Paradise Valley, a stunning stretch of land that runs along the Yellowstone River, just a few miles outside of Livingston, Montana and not far from Yellowstone National Park. The location couldn’t be more perfect for this iconic lodge, built in 1946 and known for its rustic beauty and cozy diner. But without its current owners, Chip Hurt and Jenny Arr, it wouldn’t have become a one-of-a-kind destination for 10,000+ music lovers every year.
In 2015, Chip and Jenny left Chicago for a shot at the Montana dream: buy a cabin in the woods, host live music in the backyard, add a fully-stocked beer garden, tiki bar and food-truck, and don’t forget to smell the pine trees everyday…Years later, they’ve done all that and more.
Visitors can reserve a campsite, or book their stay in a stylish shipping container cabin—all “spittin’ distance from the stage.” Pine Creek isn’t a large venue, and people like it that way. But it regularly hosts big name acts like John Mayor, Dave Chappelle, The Wood Brothers, Billy Strings—and always showcases local Montana talent.
Shauna White Bear's grandfather always insisted that her name was powerful, and told her to "put that last name on something." So, she did.
White Bear Moccasins began with a single pair of hunting moccasins, made for Shauna's boyfriend of the time. While that initial pair can't compare to the artfully crafted moccasins she makes today, they were the catalyst for her business and lifelong passion. Building White Bear Moccasins has brought Shauna closer to her community in Bozeman, her natural surroundings in Montana, and her heritage as part of the Arikara Hidatsa Nation. Her goal as a business owner and native maker is to bring people together, inspire healthy lifestyles, and live her life with true, authentic passion.
Kara Tripp and Lynae Axelson are the proud owners of Damsel Fly Fishing, a women's fly fishing accessory brand located in Belgrade, Montana. On top of their role as business owners, they're also sisters, product designers, outdoor advocates, and anglers. They were born and raised in a Montana ranching community, and attribute their sense of adventure to their mother, and to their grandpa—a well-known angler of his time. When their mother passed away in 2015, the sisters decided to take the leap and open Damsel because, in their words, "you only get one life to live, so you really have to seize the day."
When they aren't designing their signature streamlined products, you"ll likely find Kara and Lynae exploring local waters or planning their next fly-fishing expedition.
Katy Martin moved to Fishtail, Montana with her husband, Bill, in search of their next great adventure after retiring. Surprisingly enough, they found it in the Fishtail General Store—the oldest continually open general store in the state, which just happened to be on the market when Katy and Bill came to town. They bought the historic small-town business and vowed to preserve the look and feel, so you can still step back in time when you stop for lunch. While Fishtail's population is only 60, Katy still doesn't feel the need to advertise their special spot at the base of the Beartooth Mountains. In her words, "I just hope that somebody walks in the door, and they always do.
Meet Amy Beegel—a Yellowstone tour guide with a passion for snowmobiling and a knack for making people laugh. Amy was eager to explore and see the country from a young age, and that sense of adventure is still apparent to everyone around her. When she first came to Yellowstone in 1988, she tried every tour and soaked up all the information she could find about the area. Her guiding career began out of the south, coming from the Tetons, but Amy always knew she would find her way back to West Yellowstone. If you ask Amy why she works in tourism, she'll give you a straightforward answer: "People are so happy on vacation. I wanted to be where people were happy all the time.
Brad and Cyndi Edward own Elk River Outfitters, a fifth-generation, family-owned business that offers a glimpse into the cowboy way of life and pays tribute to the Crow Tribe, as "Elk River" was their name for the Yellowstone River. Brad shared the dream of owning a pack string with his grandfather, Bill Hayes, and that dream became a reality in 1994 when they began offering their first trail rides around Billings. They now have operations in Red Lodge, Billings, the Pryor Mountains and East Glacier—all with the help of their four sons.
MacNeil Lyons owns Yellowstone Insight, offering private guided tours of Yellowstone National Park. Lyons' trademark is his individualized dedication to visitor experience. Lyons' passion for the park and all of Montana shines through in his in-depth, educational and thought-provoking tours. His goal is to cultivate in others a lasting appreciation of the beauty of the world's natural resources, whether he's showing visitors the geological wonders, human history, American Indian history, or wildlife of the park.