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Billings Montana

The largest city in Montana, Billings is the child of the Northern Pacific Railroad which brought settlement to the area in 1882. Lying in the arid Yellowstone River Valley, it is an agricultural and oil refining center. The Beartooth Mountains are to the southwest and the Big Horns lie to the south; the valley is the traditional home of the Crow or Absarokee Indians. It's a good place to stay before exploring the attractions of the Beartooth Range.

What to See & Do

To the south, via Interstate 90, is what used to be called the Custer Battlefield Monument, and is now named Little Big Horn National Monument. It is the site of the defeat of Union troops by Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, in June 1876. While the memorial commemorates the death of the unfortunate Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, a native movement resulted in the renaming of the monument to recognize the Indian victory instead of the army defeat. The battlefield is 54 miles south of Billings.

Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area is a 1.5-hour drive south of Billings, with striking scenery, lake and stream fishing and boating. Bighorn Lake, held back by the Yellowtail Dam, is 71 miles long and lies within the limestone walls of the canyon. Below the dam, the Bighorn River is one of the West's most prolific trout streams. There are hiking trails and scenic drives within the recreation area, as well as campgrounds.

There are many attractions for visitors within Billings itself, including the Yellowstone Art Center with historical and contemporary art and crafts, and the Western Heritage Center which offers exhibits on Yellowstone Valley history. The Peter Yegen Museum located near the airport atop the Rimrocks, features Old West history and Native artifacts.

Western history buffs will also treasure a visit to Boothill, the only remaining sign of the former town of Coulson. Pictograph Cave State Historic Site preserves the remnants of a prehistoric Indian culture, with rock paintings seen from a short trail. More than 30,000 artifacts have been discovered in the cave. The park which has picnic sites is located six miles south of town, via the Lockwood exit of Interstate 90. Rimrock Drive leads along a dramatic series of sandstone cliffs from Highway 10 east of town. On a sunny day, you can see five different mountain ranges from atop the ridge at the gravesite of frontier scout Yellowstone Kelly.

The city has a pleasant, modern ambience with summertime concerts at MetraPark, seven golf courses, and Riverfront Park, beside the Yellowstone offering walks and picnicking (one of 63 municipal parks). The Moss Mansion, at 914 Division Street, provides a look into Billings' past, with guided tours through this turn-of-the-century mansion, the former home of Preston B. Moss, one of the area's prominent community founders.

Where to Stay

The Northern Hotel (19 North Broadway, 406-867-6767 or toll-free at 800-STAY-LUX) is an historic buiulding, here since the early 1900s and recently bought and re-habbed by new owners, the Nelson brothers.

It's a full-service hotel with Bernie's Diner, a breakfast and lunch place and TEN the dining room with upscale dining and a bar. Ten opens for dining at 5 p.m. and the bar opens at 4 p.m. Other amenities include a fitness center, gift shop and small convention center, business facilities and free WiFi. It's in the middle of downtown and convenient to sjopping and otherplaces to eat.

Otherwise, there are twenty or so standard chain motels and motor lodges, and a handfull of smaller locally-owned motels you can choose from.

Camping

Big Sky Campground
5516 Laurel Road, Billings, 406-259-4110
Open all year with tenting and RV sites, restaurant and gift shop. Take I-90 Exit 446.

Billings Village RV Park
325 South Billings Blvd. Billings, 406-248-8685
This RV park has 66 RV sites, all with hookups. From I-90 exit 447, turn north onto Billings Boulevard.

Montana Destinations

Bigfork

Billings

Bozeman

Butte

Gardiner

Glacier National Park

Great Falls

Helena

Missoula

Red Lodge

Seeley Lake & The Swan Valley

West Yellowstone

Whitefish

 


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