If you yearn for outdoor adventure, Billings provides nearly limitless opportunities thanks to our pristine lands, scenic beauty, and rugged, rustic charm. If you’re interested in cultural events, Billings will astound you with its impressive selection of music, theater, museums and dining. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Billings, Montana’s Trailhead.
- Big Horn Canyon Recreational Area
- Immerse yourself in the relaxing surroundings of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The canyon offers a diversified landscape of forest, mountains, upland prairie, deep canyons, broad valleys, high desert, lake and wetlands. Since the creation of the recreation area, people have been able to find tranquil settings to better explore recreation, nature, wildlife, and history.
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, following the construction of the Yellowtail Dam by the Bureau of Reclamation. This dam, named after the famous Crow chairman Robert Yellowtail, harnessed the waters of the Bighorn River and turned this variable stream into a magnificent lake.
Bighorn Lake extends approximately 71 miles through Wyoming and Montana, 55 miles of which are held within spectacular Bighorn Canyon. The Recreation Area is composed of 120,000+ acres, which straddles the northern Wyoming and southern Montana borders. There are two visitor centers and other developed facilities in Fort Smith, Montana and near Lovell, Wyoming. The Afterbay Lake below the Yellowtail Dam is a good spot for trout fishing and wildlife viewing for ducks, geese and other animals. The Bighorn River below the Afterbay Dam is a world class trout fishing area.
5 Avenue B
Fort Smith, MT 59035-7458
- Buffalo Bill Historical Center
- The Buffalo Bill Historical Center offers five fantastic museums under one roof!
The Buffalo Bill Museum examines both the personal and public lives of W.F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, and seeks to interpret his story in the context of the history and myth of the American West.
The Whitney Gallery of Western Art presents an outstanding collection of masterworks of the American West. Original paintings, sculptures and prints trace artistic interpretations of the West from the early 19th century to today.
The Plains Indian Museum features one of the country's largest and finest collections of Plains Indian art and artifacts. Explore the cultural histories, artistry and living traditions of Plains Indian peoples, including the Arapaho, Crow, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Blackfeet, Sioux, Gros Ventre, Shoshone and Pawnee.
The Cody Firearms Museum contains the world's most comprehensive assemblage of American arms, as well as European arms dating to the 16th century.
The Draper Museum of Natural History integrates the humanities with natural sciences to interpret the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and adjacent intermountain basins.
The Harold McCracken Research Library advances the understanding, appreciation and study of the American West.
720 Sheridan Avenue
Cody, WY 82414
- Chief Plenty Coup State Park
- Situated within the Crow Reservation in south-central Montana, 40 minutes south of Billings, this park was the home of Plenty Coups, last chief of the Crow. This day-use park preserves the log home, sacred spring, and farmstead of Chief Plenty Coups. Plan at least an hour to walk the grounds and browse through the small visitor center that traces the story of Chief Plenty Coups' life, and of the chief's efforts to lead his people in adopting the lifestyle of the white man. For more information visit www.nezperce.com/pcmain.html. Note: this site is not affiliated with Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks.
- Custer Battlefield Museum
- A registered historic site, Garryowen, the only town within the Battlefield is located at I-90 Exit 514 just south of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and Custer National Cemetery. The site is just one-hour’s drive from Billings, Montana or from Sheridan, Wyoming. The Battle of the Little Bighorn began on this quiet riverbank when 7th Cavalry troops attacked Sitting Bull's camp in the first military action of the West's most famous battle. This grassy riverbank is where Major Marcus Reno's troops attacked Sitting Bull's camp on the afternoon of June 25th, 1876 under Lt. Col. George A. Custer's command. For a century the battle was known as "Custer's Last Stand" or the "Custer Massacre.”
From Garryowen, visitors can view all of the famous locations associated with the Battle of the Little Bighorn, including the site where Custer was last seen alive, Major Reno's hilltop defense site, Weir Point, Last Stand Hill, Medicine Tail Coulee, the Crow's Nest, and Wolf Mountains.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is the burial site of one of the first casualties of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The granite tomb was dedicated during the Burial of the Hatchet Ceremony in 1926 at Garryowen, during the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn after the discovery of the Unknown Soldiers body when building the interstate. White Bull Sioux Indian and General Godfrey performed the ceremony in front of 50,000 observers. The Granite "Peace Memorial" behind the Tomb was dedicated on the 125th Anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
The town is now privately owned and operated by Christopher Kortlander. It is the site of the Custer Battlefield Museum, a Federal Post Office, Conoco Gas Station, convenience store, Subway sandwich shop, Historical Rarities and rest area.
The Custer Battlefield Museum houses extensive new exhibits including hundreds of Custer Battlefield artifacts from the Battle of the Little Bighorn and the Plains Indian War period.
Documentaries are shown hourly in the theatre adjacent to the museum and give logistical battle bearings to visitors before they begin the historical voyage through the Museum, then move on to the Little Bighorn Battlefield. Important Indian War period artifacts and manuscripts related to Custer, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and the 7th Cavalry, as well as an acclaimed collection of highly historic photographs by D.F. Barry, are part of the exhibit. Preserved, for example, is the contract for Sitting Bull's appearance in the famous Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. This is the only contract signed by Sitting Bull known to exist.
The exhibit area houses a lock of Custer's Hair, Captain Tom W. Custer's Kerr revolver, Little Wolf's battle-worn eagle feather war bonnet, war clubs and trade knives, cavalry spurs and a U.S. Cavalry pistol dropped on the Reno retreat route - still fully loaded.
Significant collection of battle vintage beaded clothing on exhibit adds to bronzes, paintings, and other memorabilia to create an educational tour through the vanished American frontier.
For tourist and lodging information about Garryowen please feel free to call 406-638-1876.
Custer Battlefield Museum, Town Hall,
Garryowen, MT 59031
- Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
- This area memorializes one of the last armed efforts of the Northern Plains Indians to preserve their way of life. Here in 1876, 263 soldiers and attached personnel of the U.S. Army, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer, met death at the hands of several thousand Lakota and Cheyenne warriors.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is the site of the June 25, 1876 battle between the U.S. Army's 7th cavalry and several bands of Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho.
- Pictograph Cave State Park
- First there was the land, the mountains and the rivers. Humans are but recent newcomers to this place now called Montana. However, when and how they arrived is still a mystery. Pictograph Cave State Park is a place to contemplate the origins of human habitation of Montana.
The pictographs are more than 2,100 years old. Their interpretations are still subject to great debate. Do they simply document hunts, or do they honor people or their scripts? The images of animals, warriors and even rifles tell a story that has lasted thousands of years. The three main caves - Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost cave complex was home to generations of prehistoric hunters. They were carved from the Eagle sandstone cliff by the forces of water and wind erosion. The first major discovery of artifacts and paintings in the caves was made in 1936.
Approximately 30,000 artifacts, ranging from stone tools, weapons, paintings and the instruments used, have been identified from the site. The red, black and white pigments used provide key information and evidence suggesting that the caves were first used by nomadic hunters seeking shelter. The artifacts discovered allow researchers to pinpoint which peoples used the caves and when they inhabited the region.
The park has paved trails to the caves, with interpretative displays along the route identifying and explaining the natural features, the prehistoric paintings and vegetation found in the area. The Pictograph Cave is the deepest of the three main caves, at approximately 160 feet wide and 45 feet deep. Visitors are advised to bring binoculars to get a better view of the rock art. Allow at least an hour to complete the pleasant .25-mile loop of the ancient rock paintings. Also an excellent site for bird watching. There are picnic facilities available for day use only, but no camping is permitted.
It is a National Historic Landmark. The park is 23 acres in size and 3,500 feet in elevation. It offers vault toilets, grills/fire rings, picnic tables, trashcans, and drinking water.
Bikes are not permitted on the trails, and the trails and cave are not disabled accessible (only the restroom, water fountain, and parking area.) Binoculars are very helpful in viewing the pictographs.
For non-resident visitors, the day use fee is $5 per vehicle.
Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks
Billings, MT 59105
- Pompey's Pillar
- During his return trip to St. Louis, William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition climbed the Pillar and carved his signature and the date in the sandstone. Clark wrote, “This rock I ascended and from it’s top had a most extensive view in every direction on the Northerly Side of the river high romantic Clifts approach & jut over the water for Some distance both above and below...I marked my name and the day of the month and year."
While archeological digs and other recent research have uncovered artifacts that may have been left by the Corps of Discovery, Clark’s inscription is still the only remaining physical evidence of Lewis and Clark’s passing visible on their actual route. This historic carving on the sandstone butte that Clark called a “remarkable rock” has inspired generations of visitors for more than 100 years.
In his journals, Clark named the Pillar "Pomp’s Tower." Pomp was Clark’s nickname for young Baptiste Charbonneau, infant son of Sacagawea, the Shoshoni woman who accompanied the expedition and contributed greatly to its success. An image of Sacagawea carrying young Pompy adorns the United States golden dollar coin. Pompy means little chief in the Shoshoni language. The name was changed to Pompeys Pillar when an account of the Expedition was published by Nicolas Biddle in 1814.
Pompeys Pillar was proclaimed a national monument in January 2001. Prior to its monument status, it was a designated national historic landmark in 1965. It is located along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
- Pompeys Pillar National Monument
- Pompeys Pillar is a rock outcropping that rises 200 feet above the Yellowstone River 30 miles east of Billings. Pompeys Pillar is like a sandstone history book that reads like a who's who of western frontier history. Look on the rock face for the remains of animal drawings created by people who used the area for rendezvous, campsites, and hunting. In 1806 Captain William Clark carved his signature and the date in this rock. It is the only site on the trail where visible evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition may be viewed by the public.
Interpretive tours are available.
Admittance Rate: $3.00/vehicle Starting Memorial Day weekend and ending at the end of September.
- Yellowstone National Park
- Welcome to Yellowstone National Park!
Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is America's first national park. Located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, it is home to a large variety of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Preserved within Yellowstone National Park are Old Faithful and a collection of the world's most extraordinary geysers and hot springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.