Elevation: 4091 FT
County: Sweet Grass
Flanked by the beautiful backdrop of the Crazy Mountains and offering some of the finest blue-ribbon trout fishing in Montana, it's no wonder Big Timber—the gateway to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness—boasts celebrity status. Gene Autry owned a ranch just north of town and provided stock for the local rodeos. Scenes from Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It and The Horse Whisperer were filmed here, and the award-winning documentary Sweetgrass was also filmed in the area.
Big Timber is bordered on the north and east by prairie, and on the south and west by mountains, and charms with numerous outdoor activities and guided services, including ranch vacations, hiking, river floats, hunting, fishing, golf and the historical Big Timber Rodeo.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Big Timber’s Grand Hotel Bed & Breakfast is the town’s most iconic lodging spot. Stay the night in turn-of-the-century decorated room, enjoy some of Montana’s best cuisine (locally raised beef and seafood flown in daily!), and top off the night with a cocktail at the Grand Hotel Saloon.
Get a historical look at Sweet Grass Country at the Crazy Mountain Museum. Explore the Cobblestone City—a detailed miniature diorama of Big Timber circa 1907—and a permanent rodeo that display features the Cremer Rodeo of the 1930s. Museum visitors also enjoy the museum’s replica Norwegian stabbur, a tipi and a one-room schoolhouse.
Big Timber got its name from, you guessed it, large trees. Huge cottonwood trees aplenty line the banks of the nearby rivers, still standing where they did 200 years ago when Lewis and Clark passed through. A National Champion Cottonwood contender sits right outside city limits along the Yellowstone River at 125 feet tall, and it’s wide enough for three people to wrap their arms around.
Don’t miss Natural Bridge State Park. The natural sandstone arch from which this park takes its name has been shaped by millions of years, spanning 78 feet across and 65 feet high, with a rather impressive falls spilling over the lip. This scenic area of high, stone cliffs and arches is a hiking hotspot, but you can also just camp out or pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the wildlife and the natural wonder.
Live Like a Local
Every June, Big Timber hosts Sweet Grass Fest, a quintessentially western festival featuring the Big Timber Rodeo, plus a kids fair, car and tractor show, vendor fair, parade and live music. In conjunction with the festival is the Big Timber Rodeo, an action-packed, two-day event that draws quite the crowd. Rodeo afterparties consist of live music and street dances. If you visit in the summertime, hit up the Big Timber Farmers Market at the Grand Hotel on a Saturday between 9 a.m. to noon. Also, don’t miss the Sweet Grass Brewfest held every August.
Fiber Fest Once home to 50 bands of sheep with over 1000 animals each, Big Timber has a long history in wool production. Thus, the Crazy Mountain Fiber Fest held every summer. Local and regional fiber vendors gather to display and sell their work, provide weaving and spinning demos, and host classes covering a variety of fiber arts. Whether you’re interested in creating your own pieces, purchasing art or simply admiring a centuries-old craft, this is not your average festival.