Great road trips typically have three things in common: good company, the scenic route, and a home-base that's small enough to be authentic, but big enough to offer amenities, adventure and good food. Billings, Montana contains all the ingredients for the recipe of a great road trip through Montana.
This story was created in partnership with Visit USA Parks. All photos by Emily Sierra Photography and Visit Billings.
The population of Billings is about 1/80 of New York City’s population, but it’s still the largest city in Montana. Fly into Billings Logan International Airport and enjoy a stay at one of their fine hotels. You can get luxury and convenience anywhere, so step outside and enjoy what’s really unique about Billings.
Montana Road Trip Routes: Beartooth Highway
While there are many routes and scenic drives you can take from Billings, we suggest driving the Beartooth Highway to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Montana road trip? Check. Yellowstone? Check. Forbes calls the Beartooth Highway one of the country’s most dazzling drives. Depending on weather, it’s usually open starting Memorial Day weekend.
On the Trails
When in Montana, right? Horseback riding in Billings feels very authentic and special. Why? Probably because Montana is still a place where cattle-herding-cowgirls and cowboys are an essential part of their economy. Learn to ride from local guides and experience this classic mode of traveling through some of Montana’s best grasslands.
Montana is known to have some of the best fly-fishing in the country. The cold, crystal clear waters make for the perfect trout habitat—a fisherman’s dream. Bring your own gear and expertise or rent a pole and waders and go with a local guide; either way you’ll want to make your way out to Bighorn River, which is famous for containing larger-than-average trout. Rock Creek and Stillwater River are other great options that are within close proximity to Billings.
Just minutes from downtown you’ll find Zimmerman Park, which is a great place to take the mountain bikes for an evening sunset ride. There are many trails, so create your own adventure! Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the canyon views below. If you’re looking for more, Acton Recreation Area is just 40 minutes outside of town and offers trails for beginners and advanced experts.
Art, Culture and Food
Farm to Table
While on your Montana road trip, you will come to find that there's a lot of fresh food. From July to October, you can attend the Yellowstone Valley Farmers Market, founded 35 years ago, in downtown Billings. It’s the best place to enjoy local fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat, dairy, live music, and so much more! Really, it’s not your average farmer’s market, but what else would you expect from Billings? From breweries and burger dives to distilleries and fine dining, you can find something for everyone when it comes to mealtime.
Monuments and Art
Near Billings are two national monuments: Pompeys Pillar National Monument and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, which is the third most visited place in Montana and the site of the historic battle between US Cavalry soldiers and Northern Plains Indian Tribes. Thirty minutes out of town you’ll find Pompeys Pillar, a large rock outcropping with historical evidence ranging from Native American history to etchings by the Lewis and Clark expedition (the rock was named for the son of Sacagawea) to the railroad and early homesteaders.
If you’re into art, architecture or music in indoor and outdoor spaces, be sure to check out Tippet Rise Art Center, as they host and exhibit unique events with the beautiful background of the Beartooth Mountains.