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Bighorn River / Bighorn Canyon

Featured Article

Summer Bucket List

Adventure Awaits

Adventure is always calling in Montana. The summer season offers the perfect backdrop for visiting some of our favorite spots near Billings. Get outside, get moving, and get to checking off these ten places from your summer bucket list. 

Not exactly the most adventurous explorer? No problem. Each place offers a variety of activities for all travelers, from thrill-seekers to casual strollers. 

Bighorn Canyon

This place has it all. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area offers visitors exceptional opportunities to immerse themselves in the natural world, whether on the water or on the trails. Holding the title of Montana’s most fished river, the Bighorn has attracted a huge following, known as a world class trout fishery far and wide. Bighorn Lake is home to a variety of different fish, including large walleyes. Hikers can choose from over 27 miles of trails, varying in length and difficulty. Visitors can tour historic ranches kept in their original state, picnic, horseback ride, or camp. Always be on the lookout for incredible wildlife, such as bighorn sheep, bears, or even the largest herd of wild horses in the US. 

nps.gov/bica

Zoo Montana

ZooMontana is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a coveted honor given to only the very best zoos and aquariums. The Zoo is home to more than 80 animals of 56 different species, including Amur Tigers, Grizzly Bears, Wolverine, River Otters, Takin, and Canada Lynx, among others, most of which are rescues. View and interact with wildlife through direct observation, interpretive displays, and experiential educational programs. Enjoy the botanical gardens and strolling along the trail from exhibit to exhibit.

zoomontana.org

Four Dances

Through cooperative efforts, landowners, the Yellowstone River Parks Association, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) preserved 765 acres of undeveloped open space in Billings. Four Dances is designated a special recreation management area. The BLM's objective for the site is to protect the open space and natural and cultural resources, while providing dispersed public recreation in Billings. This area is located on a plateau 2 miles east of downtown Billings and is bordered on the east side by Coburn Road. The plateau is edged with cliffs that drop 200-500 feet to the river. The west boundary is the Yellowstone River. Activities include wildlife watching, hiking, nature photography, and environmental education.

blm.gov/visit/four-dances

Pompey’s Pillar

Bear witness to the only surviving inscription of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Captain William Clark carved his name and the date “Wm Clark July 25th, 1806” on the face of the 150 foot sandstone rock. Visitors can view the signature and the rock as they were more than 200 years ago. This historical site offers more remnants of the past, long preceding even Lewis and Clark, including pictographs and petroglyphs from Native Americans dating back nearly 10,000 years.

pompeyspillar.org

Mystic Lake

Completing the hike to Mystic Lake may be a bit of a challenge, but it offers a breathtaking reward. This picturesque lake sits at over 7,000 feet above sea level in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. Hikers should expect a moderate trail, best used between May and October. The lake provides opportunities to fish, camp, and revel in the awesome scenery. 

alltrails.com/trail/us/montana/mystic-lake

Beartooth Highway

Since 1937, the Beartooth Highway has been captivating and thrilling drivers who traverse along its winding path from Red Lodge to Cooke City. The 68 mile byway takes travelers through southwest Montana and northwest Wyoming, leading into Yellowstone National Park at its Northeast Entrance. At nearly 11,000 feet, it is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies. Savor the sumptuous views of sprawling valleys, towering peaks, verdant forest, glacial lakes, vibrant wildflowers, diverse wildlife, and year-round snow banks as you near the summit. Recognized as a National Scenic Byways “All-American Road”. Allow yourself to be swept away by “one of the most scenic drives in the United States.”

beartoothhighway.com

Riverfront Park

Billings’ largest river park. Trails, developed lawn areas, picnic tables, Lake Josephine, and Cochran Pond offer a relaxed outdoor venue for a variety of activities. Take advantage of this picturesque setting without leaving town. 

yrpa.org/parks/riverfront-park/

The Beaten Path

This 26 mile stretch of trail offers backpackers and hikers an up close and personal view of the stunning Beartooths, complete with waterfalls, alpine lakes, impressive peaks, and dense forests. Many believe the trail traverses the most beautiful scenery in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. If you plan to complete the entire hike, special preparation must be made for transportation, as the two trailheads are about three hours apart. Elevation on the trail ranges from around 6,000 feet to nearly 10,000 feet. Be sure to follow proper etiquette, such as packing out what you pack in. 

mthikes.com/the-beaten-path-beartooth-mountains/

Zimmerman Park

Walk, jog, or bike along the iconic Billings Rimrocks. Zimmerman Trail is a 3.2 mile loop around the park which offers mountain bikers or hikers a sandstone and dirt track to explore. Take in the city at sunset for a relaxing evening stroll. 

visitbillings.com/outdoor/zimmerman-park

Phipps Park/ Diamond X

Check out one of the best Frisbee Golf courses around! Impressive rock formations line the 350-acre, natural park and ensure your FOLF game will be challenging as well as exciting. This rugged course offers approaches that cross canyons and climb high cliffs. Both back nines (black and blue) at Diamond X follow the edge of the plateau providing great views of Billings and the surrounding Yellowstone Valley. Mountain bikers and hikers may enjoy some of the steep trails and rugged terrain, yet there are paths for all ages and skill levels. 

billingsparks.org/park/phipps/

  • Pompeys Pillar
  • ZooMT
  • Riverfront Park
  • Beaten Path
  • Zimmerman Park
  • Phipps Park
  • Bighorn River / Bighorn Canyon
  • Beartooth Highway
  • Mystic Lake