Billings, MT is a great place to visit in the summer with plenty of breweries, hiking trails, and outdoor recreation in the area. Beyond city limits, Billings is surrounded by many beautiful recreation areas and historic monuments. You don’t have to drive too far out of Billings to experience the history of this region and explore the natural scenery. Whether you’re looking for a quick hike, wildlife watching, or an opportunity to learn more about the region’s history, Billings and the surrounding area has something to offer. Check out our list of the top 5 day trips from Billings, MT to find your next place to explore!
Visit the Historic Pompey’s Pillar National Monument
Pompey’s Pillar is a must-stop for history buffs. The monuments sits just east of Billings, off Interstate 94, and is just a short drive from the city. This monument features unique physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark expedition and an excellent interpretive center to learn more about the expedition. On the return route of the expedition from the Pacific Northwest, a party headed by Clark separated from the rest of the group to follow the Yellowstone River. William Clark carved his name and the date on a sandstone rock formation, which he designated as Pompey’s Pillar after Sacagawea’s son (Pompey was the child’s nickname).1 The site is now preserved as a national monument, with several trails and an interpretive center.
Hike the trails at Medicine Rocks State Park
About 3.5 hours from Billings, Medicine Rocks State Parks sits 25 miles southwest of Baker, Montana and 11 miles north of Ekalaka, Montana. Enjoy photography, hiking and wildlife viewing at this beautiful recreation area. Weathering has given the soft sandstone rock formations a Swiss cheese look providing a fascinating landscape.2 Visitors can witness thousands of inscriptions on the sandstone pillars dating back centuries.3 There are 12 campsites at the park, available on a first-come, first-served basis. The beautiful scenery and variety of activities at Medicine Rocks State Park make it one of our top picks for day trips from Billings, MT.
Visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield
Located about an hour east of Billings, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument was the site of Native Americans’ biggest victory during the US-Indian Wars in the 1800s.3 Here on June 25 and 26 of 1876, 263 soldiers, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer and attached personnel of the US Army, died fighting several thousand Lakota and Cheyenne warriors.4 Take the self-guided driving and walking tour of the area and learn more about this significant moment in our nation’s history.
Drive to Red Lodge, Montana
Red Lodge is located an hour south of Billings in the beautiful foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. This charming town is a fun place to wander and explore. Stroll through downtown and stop at one of the many restaurants or shops to grab a bite to eat or purchase a souvenir. Local attractions include the Carbon County Historical Society and Museum. This museum is housed in a 1909 brick building and features exhibits on the history of Carbon County, as well as a shop with western-related gifts and books. Additionally, if you’re looking to do some hiking, check out Basin Creek Lake Trail, a 5 mile moderate trail that includes a lake view, as well as a waterfall.
Red Lodge is located at the east end of the famous Beartooth Highway, considered one of the most scenic drives in the U.S.5
Traverse the Beartooth Highway Scenic Drive
This scenic drive runs about 70 miles long and reaches a height of nearly 11,000 feet at Beartooth Pass. A popular day trip from Billings, the Beartooth Highway Scenic Drive starts in Red Lodge, MT and dips into Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. Include part of the park in your trip, although seeing all of Yellowstone National Park is definitely a multi-day trip. Enjoy the beautiful scenery as you drive, stopping to hike one of the many trails along the way. Plan for a full day for this drive, as you’ll want to stop and enjoy the scenery!
Did we miss one of your favorite day trips near Billings, MT? Drop a comment below and we’ll add it!
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