Columbus, Montana

Elevation: 3600 FT

Population: 2039

County: Stillwater

Columbus sits at the foothills of the Beartooth Mountains where the Stillwater and Yellowstone rivers meet, offering plenty of fishing opportunities as well as backpacking and hiking. Head north of town for wide-open spaces, and south to get into the mountains for woods, wildlife and waterways.

Columbus is a full-service town, offering whatever you might need or want during your Yellowstone adventure—shopping, fine dining, and lodging. There's even a golf course and airport.

Visit the Museum of the Beartooths for a lesson in the history of the area, including artifacts of the Rosebud River, Crow Indians, Northern Pacific Railroad memorabilia and World War II history. Learn about the miners, frontiersmen, cattlemen, homesteaders and American Indian cultures who shaped Stillwater County. Explore the T.T. Brown Schoolhouse, the Albert Johnson Tack Shop, a blacksmith shop, old farming equipment, and Northern Pacific caboose. Indoor exhibits include a tribute to Donald J. Ruhl, one of Montana's seven Congressional Medal of Honor recipients; a Welcome to Stillwater County exhibit; a Hard Rock Mine exhibit telling the history of mining in the county and about the Stillwater Mining Company—the only platinum and palladium mine in the Western hemisphere; a history of the second Crow Agency; and an exhibit on the 1938 Frank Robideau hanging, the second-to-last legal hanging in Montana. Pore over thousands of photographs, local newspapers and oral histories and don’t miss the museum gift shop.

From Columbus, take the most scenic route to Yellowstone Park, via Montana Highway 78 and U.S. Highway 212, over the Beartooth Pass. The Beartooth Front Scenic Drive is a stunning, 46-mile scenic journey along Highway 78 between Columbus and Red Lodge along the northern front of the Beartooth Mountains. Highway 78 eventually hooks up with the Beartooth Highway (Highway 212), hailed as one of the most beautiful drives in America.

True Story

The community originated as a stagecoach station on the Yellowstone River. The original name for this American Indian trading post was Sheep Dip, and was later changed to Stillwater, which posed a postal conflict with the town in Minnesota by the same name. Thus, Columbus.

Trip tip

Join in on the fun at one of Columbus' many events throughout the year. The Columbus Farmers Market takes place at Railroad Park Thursdays 4 ¬– 6:30 p.m. mid-July through September. Another summer favorite is the Stillwater County Fair. On Father's Day weekend, Columbus hosts the Nitro National Pro Hillclimbs, bringing in thousands of visitors and motorcycle riders from all over the world. Every August Musicians gather from across the globe to jam together on the banks of the Yellowstone River at Itch-Ke-Pe Park for the is the Musician's Rendezvous. Bring your instrument and join in, or just come for the sweet mountain sounds.

Live Like a Local

Stop in at The New Atlas Bar on Main Street, which opened in 1916 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Taxidermy fills the walls, most notably the two-headed calf, and each mount has its own backstory.

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