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
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
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
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.
The Clarion Historic Northern Hotel
(19 North Broadway) is a full-service hotel with a
restaurant, lounge, and casino. Other amenities include a
fitness center, gift shop and small convention center.
Otherwise, there are twenty or so standard
chain motels and motor lodges, and a handfull of smaller
locally-owned motels you can choose from.
Big Sky Campground
Open all year with tenting and RV sites, restaurant and
gift shop. Take I-90 Exit 446.