Photo Credit: Donnie Sexton
Take it from us locals, when you visit Southeast Montana, there’s one activity that tops the Must Do List.
Just one thing, you are thinking…really? We know – there’s so much to do out here, that singling out just ONE thing must be impossible. Is this a joke?
Nope. We are sure we nailed it.
If you do nothing else while you visit Southeast Montana it should be this – get off the interstate.
Sounds simple, right?
As professional travelers, we are accustomed to getting from Point A to Point B quickly and efficiently. And the U.S. Interstate system was designed to do exactly that. In Southeast Montana, I-90 and I-94 provide major travel corridors from Billings to Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota and to Theodore Roosevelt National Monument in North Dakota, respectively.
Our reasoning is simple: The charm and personality of Southeast Montana lies in the small towns, the rolling prairies and the unexpected you will find down the two-lane roads of the region.
If you stayed on the main thoroughfare, you would miss downtown Miles City, where real cowboys stop for a cup of joe and horse trailers likely outnumber RVs. Venturing off the interstate and along Montana highway 12 will take you to the Jersey Lilly in Ingomar, where the sheepherder hors d'oeuvre is a mainstay and rubbing elbows with locals remains a form of daily entertainment.
Out here, getting off the interstate gives new definition to the overused tourism clique, “Off the Beaten Path,” while opening your mind to what the real Montana looks like. A stop at the Musselshell County Museum in Roundup tells the story of this ranching-and-mining town with its emerging artists’ scene and rustic RiverWalk. While you are there, be sure to ask a local the origin of the town’s name.
Photo Credit: Visit Southeast Montana
Farther east, driving the two-lane Montana highway 323 leads to Alzada – where you will be tickled an embarrassing pink at the primitive Stoneville Saloon. Continuing north you will reach the town of Ekalaka (pronounced Eek-a-lack-ah) that quietly offers the world’s best grilled ham and cheese at the Wagon Wheel Café (yup, it’s only $3.20) and a deep understanding of paleontology at the Carter County Museum.
If you follow the undulating path along Montana highway 7 farther up the road to Baker you will find Prairie Rose Classics, a no-charge private museum where locals proudly display their classic cars – just because they love them and want to share. But don’t leave town without seeing Steer Montana at the O’Fallon Historical Museum – and ask how he gained his unimaginable girth.
No matter where you go out here, you’ll find a small town with its own flavor, its own story. We don’t believe in ‘life in the fast lane.’ This is where Montana’s majestic mountains roll out to meet the prairies and the Big Sky opens to all possibilities – we don’t want you to miss it.