Rural Communites

Of Yellowstone Country Montana

Our smaller communities are integral to the charm you will find here in Yellowstone Country. Adventure out of these towns and you’ll find unbelievable views of the rugged peaks, soft hills and wide-open grasslands that make our region a necessary adventure. Bustling main streets will captivate you with signature events and festivals, and will keep you coming back with craft drinks, epic food and a down-to-earth approach. Make sure any visit to the area includes a stop in one of these endearing small communities.

Absarokee

Named for the Crow Indians—the original stewards of the land—this small (all of 2 square miles) and scenic valley community below the Beartooth Mountain foothills is a popular “stop along the way” on Montana Highway 78 between Red Lodge and Columbus.

True Story

Rumor has it that the Dew Drop Drive Inn Restaurant has totally good bubble gum ice cream. You may not be a fan, but your kids will be.

Trip Tip

Paintbrush Adventures and the famous Barron Ranch provide a taste of authentic cowboy life in a picturesque setting with gracious western hospitality. Saddle up for an unforgettable experience at this fifth-generation working horse, sheep and cattle ranch that’s unlike any other dude ranch in Montana.

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Brave the Class III rapids on the Stillwater River between Absarokee and Columbus (don’t worry, you can go with a guide). Your trip will likely include “cliff jumping” from a popular rock wall near Columbus. Whitewater enthusiasts also enjoy kayaking the river from Nye down.

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Bearcreek

The story of this historic, once-booming, coal-mining town is one of heartbreak and hope.

True Story

Bearcreek plays host every autumn to Montana Falconer Symposium, the state's largest gathering of falcon trainers and birds of prey enthusiasts.

Trip Tip

The Bear Creek Saloon & Steakhouse is a must-stop, touting the finest charbroiled steaks in the area and the famous, and always entertaining, pig races.

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Go "hog wild" in Bearcreek. The main attraction at the Bear Creek Saloon & Steakhouse is the Bear Creek Downs Pig Races. Bearcreek is the only incorporated city or town in Montana with a population of less than 100, which is why it is legality of betting on pig races holds up here. The pigs are provided by a local 4-H club, and each pig can be purchased by a sponsor every racing season. The sponsor names the pig and a jersey made for it. Past pig names include "Pumpkin Butt," "Raquel Belch," "Knuckles," "Pig O'War," "Ursowla Hamdress," and "Notta Hot Dog."

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Belfry

Just outside of Billings on the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River, Belfry was created by the construction of the Yellowstone Park Railroad during Montana's coal-mining boom, and is now mainly a farming community.

True Story

The local school is Belfy’s main entertainment and community center, and although the town is small, the school’s mascot—the Belfry Bats—is known far and wide.

Trip Tip

Check out Belfry’s Kose Grocery Store Building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and originally serving the community as a restaurant, dance hall, and important meeting spot for the first Belfryites. It has functioned as a general store, grocery, and community gathering place for its entire history.

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Every year, Belfry celebrates Pioneer Days with a parade, scavenger hunt, lawn mower race and historical tours and a dance, if you feel like kicking up your heels.

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Belgrade

Nestled in the heart of the Gallatin Valley, this independent, full-service community just 10 miles northwest of Bozeman is one of the fastest-growing small towns in Montana, with Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport right in its backyard.

True Story

If you're wondering if Belgrade is named after the capital of Serbia, it is. Originally called Quaw City after a Midwestern businessman named Thomas B. Quaw, a rough winter almost collapsed the town economically until Serbian investors helped finance a portion of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and the town’s name was changed in appreciation.

Trip Tip

For more that 100 years, the Mint Café and Bar has been serving up some of the best food in Belgrade. Stop in for a prime rib or a famous m-c burger. Or, head to the Local American Saloon for good food and good local vibes. Don’t miss weekend brunch at Bar 3 BBQ, and stop in and to find out what’s on tap at Madison River Brewing Company. For more, check out these 10 Awesome Restaurants Tucked Away in Belgrade Montana.

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If you’re in town between May and September, you might catch a stock-care race at the Gallatin Speedway on the outskirts of town. If it’s homecoming weekend—usually the third weekend in September—don’t miss the annual Belgrade Fall Festival. On the second Saturday of September, locals and visitors come together Park to celebrate the end of summer and the community of Belgrade itself. The day's activities take place at Lewis and Clark Park and include a parade, community open-pit beef barbecue, car show, arts and crafts fair at Lewis and Clark Park, and the Belgrade High School Panthers varsity football game.

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Big Sky

Named for Montana’s signature big sky, this scenic, mountain resort town lives up to its name.

True Story

Here in the Gallatin Canyon, bighorn sheep tend to come down from the mountains to lick the salt off the road during the winter months.

Trip Tip

For an exquisitely breathtaking view of Lone Mountain, stop by Soldier's Chapel, in Big Sky’s Meadow Village. Built in 1955, Soldier's Chapel is a small church made of native stone and logs and was constructed as a memorial to the fallen soldiers of World War II, and to serve the spiritual needs of the ranchers and families living in the Gallatin Canyon, as well as their many summer visitors.

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Hike Ousel Falls! Hit the trailhead for this popular 1.6-mile round-trip hike. The falls itself is the main event, but the trek to the falls is pretty notable, as well with sheer cliffs, towering rock formations deep green river pools and a variety of cascades. Tip: there are picnic tables in several places along the Ousel Falls trail. I think this might be the best spot to enjoy a lunch in the woods in all of the Big Sky area.

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Big Timber

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.

True Story

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.

Trip Tip

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.

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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.

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Boyd

This Northern Pacific Railway stop en route to Red Lodge is home to less than 50 residents.

True Story

Another secret Cooney holds? Wind sports. The reservoir gets a good amount of wind and the sailing and kite boarding are exceptional. (You may want to bring your wetsuit come fall!) In the winter, kite skiers and ice sailing are also popular.

Trip Tip

Stop at the Boyd Store, a vintage and antique consignment shop for live bait and fishing gear, fishing and hunting licenses, campfire wood, local produce, furs, skulls, knives—your basic Montana necessities and treasures, like local produce, groceries, homemade soups and sandwiches, gifts, fountain soda, penny candy, ice, propane, and, naturally, cold beer.

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Fish Cooney State Park in October when the reservoir is stocked with 20,000 catchable rainbow trout. Anglers, (including ice fishers) also love the walleye and perch, and once you taste them, you’ll see why—fresh lake fish are divine.

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Bozeman

One of the most diverse small towns in the Rocky Mountain West, Bozeman is blessed with an eclectic mix of ranchers, artists, professors, ski enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, drawn here by world-class outdoor recreation, Montana State University and a slice of old-fashioned Americana.

True Story

In 1903 the Bozeman Carnegie Library was intentionally built across the street from the red-light district and opium dens.

Trip Tip

Every August, Bozeman hosts one of Montana's biggest art festivals. The Sweet Pea Festival weaves together a rich tapestry of art, music, dance, theater and food in this lively mountain town. The week kicks off with the Bite of Bozeman. Local restaurants and food trucks line Main Street with small bites to savor. The festival begins Friday with a performance by Shakespeare in the Parks. Saturday morning events start bright and early with a fun run and parade to Lindley Park, full of vendors, stages and activities for the kids. Saturday night culminates with an outdoor concert known for the kind of music you can help but move to. Enjoy Sunday browsing art, catching up with friends and relaxing at the final musical performances.

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Bozeman boast not one but three farmers markets, and they’re all worth a tour for fresh produce, food, meats, Montana-made arts and crafts, and, of course, local vibes. Start your day with a market stroll, grab some breakfast at the Nova Café, head for the hills for a hike at whatever pace suites you, end your outdoor adventure with a soak at Bozeman Hot Springs, and then take your pick of breweries (Montana’s No. 2 in the nation for breweries per capita) for some finely crafted local flavor and good eats.

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Bridger

Not far from the Wyoming line, Bridger is named for famed fur trader and early Yellowstone traveler Jim Bridger.

True Story

There are about 130 wild, free-roaming mustangs in the Pryor Mountains, believed to have descended from a herd that arrived as early as the 1700s. You might catch a glimpse of the Pryor Mountains National Wild Horse Range, just north of the Devil’s Canyon Overlook.

Trip Tip

Bridger’s BoJa Farm is growing chemical-free herbs, hardneck garlic, shallots, berries, apples, cherries, pears, apricots, plums and peaches, as well as winter squash and heritage potatoes, including fingerlings. If you’re in the area during any of their growing seasons (especially apple season) stop by, say hello, and pick up some of the best produce around. They also offer orchard and farm tours.

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Fill up at The Garage Steakhouse and Buckeye Bar Casino. Start your day with a cup of their freshly ground Guatemalan Antigua. The front of the Garage is devoted to specialty coffee and ice cream. On the flip side (the back of the Garage) the Buckeye Bar/Casino is your spot for relaxation and entertainment, a well-stocked full bar. Bonus: Enjoy free beer or well drinks while gaming in the casino, and, if poker is your jam, make your way to one of their Texas Hold'em no-limit tournaments, held monthly.

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Clyde Park

Clyde Park—population just over 300—lies north of Livingston, nestled in the Shields Valley between the Crazy Mountains and the Bridger Range.

True Story

A guy named Jack found a free drink token for the Clyde Park Tavern on the floor of a bar bathroom in Fort Myers, Florida. We don’t know what he did with it, but we know that right then and there Jack realized he was in the presence of something legendary—Montana’s bars reach far and wide.

Trip Tip

Stroll the Shields Valley Farmers Market in Holiday Park June – August on Mondays 4:30 – 7:30 pm. You’ll find local produce and food, flowers, herbs, and arts & crafts.

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Hit up Clyde Park at the end of August for a true taste of small-town Americana. That’s when the community gets together for Old Settlers Days, an annual celebration of pioneer history. Enjoy arts & craft vendors, a parade, family fun, live music and more.

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Columbus

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.

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.

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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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Cooke City

Welcome to the end of the road! To clarify, that only applies in winter.

True Story

Cooke City was originally named “Shoo Fly” as it served as a camp for the Shoo Fly Mine. The local mayor was voted in by an impromptu election in one of Cooke City’s bars. There’s no official government here, and no law enforcement either. It’s rumored that patrol cars with dummies are placed at either end of town to discourage driving over the speed limit.

Trip Tip

Stop by the Cooke City Store, one of the oldest general stores in Montana. Grab a latte and a pastry at the Bearclaw Bakery and set out on the All-American Beartooth Highway for the drive of a lifetime. Also, note, there’s no cell service in Cooke City. You can make a connection with nature instead!

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Hit up the annual Hog Roast Fundraiser for the Upper Yellowstone Snowmobile Club, or sidle up to the bar at the Miners Saloon and Sammies Café.

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Corwin Springs

Just north of Gardiner—the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park, which happens to be the only entrance to the park that's open in the winter to personal vehicle traffic—you’ll find Corwin Springs.

True Story

At night, the original Corwin Springs Hotel twinkled with electric lights and passing tourists thought it looked like a magical fairyland.

Trip Tip

You’ve got to stop for a soak at Yellowstone Hot Springs. This is one authentic Montana experience you’ll never forget, and a hot springs soak is the perfect way to end a day of Yellowstone National Park exploration, no matter what time of year it is.

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Soak it up! (See above.) Hot springs are a local favorite, too. Just another bonus of living the good life in this part of the country.

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Edgar

Edgar might look like another quiet farming community with one post office, but, as it turns out, Edgar’s quiet the draw.

True Story

According to local lore, Edgar was named after Henry Edgar, who discovered gold in the region. Records also credit Roy Thornton, who owned the town’s first grocery store, with donating the land on which the town is platted. As the story goes, Thornton’s wish for the town was to have a Methodist Church and no bar. The church shut down in 1980 and the bar continues to thrive.

Trip Tip

The Edgar Bar is usually packed every night, though they do serve lunch, too. Don’t miss their famous jumbo prawns. Full dinner service in your own private patio igloo? They’ve got that, too. Make plans for an evening at the Edgar Bar and check out their Facebook page for their Annual Luau (usually September), their Shrimp Fest (Memorial Day weekend) and live music most Saturdays in the summer.

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Downhill skiing at Red Lodge Mountain is less than an hour away, and Cooney State Park is even closer. Cooney is a south central Montana recreation hot spot for fishing, boating, water-skiing, and scenic mountain views.

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Emigrant

Emigrant sits between the Absaroka and Gallatin ranges at the base of Emigrant Peak in the gorgeous Paradise Valley, midway between Livingston and Gardiner.

True Story

You know those films A River Runs Through It and The Horse Whisperer? (Of course you do.) Much of the scenes from both were filmed in Emigrant. That’s gotta tell you something about the raw, wild beauty of this place.

Trip Tip

Pack your bear spray and set out for Paradise Valley’s Tom Miner Basin. There’s the petrified forest containing 50-million-year-old trees frozen in time, plus Ramshorn Peak at 10,289 feet. There’s wildlife: grizzlies, wolves, elk, moose, and dozens of other species roaming free beyond the official confines of Yellowstone National Park. There’s camping, hiking, and climbing. And there’s 50-mile views and real working ranches.

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Stop by that Emigrant People’s Market at St. Paul’s Church Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. June through September.

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Fishtail

Fishtail sits midway between Billings and Bozeman at the foothills of the rugged Beartooth Mountains on the West Rosebud River and the Absarokee Loop Scenic Drive.

True Story

The Fishtail General store offers hand-dipped ice cream cones, and if you're under the age of 9 you can get a cone for just 25 cents. Also noteworthy, there’s a seating section in the back of the store where you can carve your name on the table.

Trip Tip

Taste the Wild West at the Cowboy Bar & Supper Club. Stop in for a half-pound Cowboy Burger and a whole bunch of local charm. Potter's Rock Shop and Coffee House is also totally worth your time.

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Fishtail is only one block long, but according to the Cowboy Bar “manages to muster up a 2-mile-long parade.” The Fishtail Family Fun Day, is Fishtail’s annual summer celebration held every June. This spirited, small-town event includes a bake sale, silent auction, pancake breakfast, parade, cornhole tournament, live music, food, and fun for the whole family. It’s also the scene of the biggest yard sale in the state.

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Fromberg

Coming in a just under half a square mile in size, Fromberg may be small but it's brimful of character (and not just because of former residents with nicknames like “Poozer” and “Billy B’Jesus”).

True Story

A Montana icon, Fromberg’s beloved Little Cowboy Bar currently shows no signs of life, but that is likely subject to change. For years, locals and visitors alike would sidle up to the bar at this famous watering hole for local gossip and stories of life in the Old West. Esquire magazine even called it Montana's best bar and one of the best bars in America. Legend has it that this little bar is haunted by a former owner, dressed in cowboy attire. Other paranormal activity reported here includes glasses breaking by themselves, objects disappearing and ghostly laughter.

Trip Tip

Take a drive to the Bluewater Fish Hatchery, roughly 10 miles southeast of Fromberg. Named after a spring with a distinctive blue color, the hatchery is open seven days a week, from daylight to dark.

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Go see Marge Taylor at Leather Legends—literally a Fromberg legend—and place an order for some custom-made leather chaps.

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Gallatin Gateway

Perfectly situation right between Bozeman and Big Sky in the Gallatin River Valley, Gallatin Gateway offers mountain-town vibes with all the amenities one might need to have a splendid adventure.

True Story

The community church was built in 1885, using the Gallatin River for baptism, and Gallatin Gateway’s historic jail is now the home of the Gallatin History Museum.

Trip Tip

Revisit history at the Little Bear School House Museum complete with old school desks with ink wells and writing slates.

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Pull up a barstool at Stacey’s Old Faithful Bar & Steakhouse—sister saloon to the famous Old Saloon in Emigrant, Montana. Just like the Old Saloon this is an authentic Montana watering hole with tons of history and even more character.

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Gardiner

With a strong nod to the Old West (and not just because it's named after an outlaw fur trapper), Gardiner excels at being quaint but happens to be a full-service town specializing in wilderness, wildlife, whitewater, and western welcomes.

True Story

Curious why the name Gardiner is spelled differently from the Gardner River and John Gardner, the fur trapper for which the river and town get their names? That “i” was added likely because of a phonetic misspelling when pronounced by native West Virginia Mountain Man Jim Bridger.

Trip Tip

Gardiner gives you access to the Northern Range—the northern section of Yellowstone National Park—where you’ll find the park’s largest herds of bison and elk, as well as coyotes, foxes, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, plus the occasional wolf, moose, and bear (both black and grizzly). Because Gardiner provides the only year-round entrance to the park for personal vehicle, Gardiner is a basecamp sure bet any time of year. Winter is especially magical for Nordic skiers, snowshoers, and photographers on the lookout for gray wolves. Don’t miss the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (including Lower Falls) and Hayden Valley. If you’d prefer to leave the driving to someone else, consider a snowcoach tour of the park.

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Gardiner knows how to celebrate its roots. Each May, on Memorial Day weekend, the town hosts the Hells A-Roarin' Horse Drive an authentic Wild West tradition followed by a barbecue with cowboy poetry and live music. For a true taste of small-town Yellowstone Country, hit up this wildly fun event. Other events that should be on your radar include the Gardiner Rodeo (June), Gardiner Brewfest (July), Gardiner Christmas Stroll and Tree Lighting (December), Chili Cook-Off (January), and Jardine Ski Run (February).

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Greycliff

Greycliff is named for exactly that—a cliff east of town that's made of grey-tinted, conglomerate rock.

True Story

The prairie dog vocabulary is more advanced than any other animal language that’s been decoded. While you’re standing listening to them and their crazy chirps, they may actually be communicating to each other that there aren’t just humans afoot—they’ll also be detailing your appearance and attire.

Trip Tip

Family road trip? Pack your camera and a picnic lunch and head to Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park.

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Hit the Yellowstone River via the Pelican Fishing Access site one mile northeast of town on Country Road. There’s even a boat launch and campsite available.

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Joliet

Sitting on Rock Creek and central to both Billings and Red Lodge, Joliet is located within a few hours of many historical sites.

True Story

In 1971, a sculptor named Charles Ringer moved to town and bought an old junk yard. He got to work creating large metal sculptors that have since been placed throughout the area. His works have become landmarks for travelers along U.S. Highway 212. In fact, winter travelers have dubbed one of his well-known roadside works “The Snow God.”

Trip Tip

Home of the Bonnie Burger, visit the J-Bar and Grill—an old-time Montana bar on Main Street. Friday specials and biker specials are a draw for locals and Beartooth Highway bikers. At the edge of town, the 212 Bar and Grill serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a bar and casino.

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Grab a caramel roll at Jane Dough’s and then hit Rock Creek for a day of pure Montana fishing. When it’s time to hang up your rod, go BACK to Jane Dough’s for a fresh slice of pizza.

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Livingston

Located between the Gallatin and Crazy Mountain ranges and surrounded by the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area, the town of Livingston is nestled along the free-flowing Yellowstone River.

True Story

With the expansion of the railroad, and the division of land with homesteaders, long cattle drives were no longer needed and cowboys had to find alternative ways to make a living. Many began competing in professional rodeos. The Livingston Roundup Rodeo was started in 1926 by a group of local businessmen as a way to keep travelers in the area. Now it touts one of the biggest prize purses in the country. Professional cowboys and cowgirls come from across the nation to compete.

Trip Tip

If You haven’t been to the Murray Hotel, you haven’t been to Livingston. The late Anthony Bourdain called it his favorite hotel on the planet. Located off the hotel’s lobby, the Second Street Bistro is one of Montana's premiere restaurants, with an impressive wine list and exceptional cuisine. With live music and local vibes the Murray Bar is the perfect place to experience Livingston’s nightlife.

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Soak up a Montana summer at Livingston’s Summerfest. This two-day, outdoor music festival is held in mid-July at Sacajawea Park along the Yellowstone River. Kick up your heels to live music and food and drink vendors from around the state. Kids can enjoy a variety of activities, as well. Stroll the Livingston Farmers Market at the Livingston Food Resource Center any Wednesday from 4:30 ¬to 7:30 p.m. June through September.

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Luther

Luther is nestled in the beautiful and rugged Beartooth Mountain Range northwest of Red Lodge.

True Story

Originally named Linley, you’ll find a few residences in Luther, but that’s about it. And that’s the way Luther likes it.

Trip Tip

Add Luther to your summer camping list. Book a stay with Canyon Creek Cottage Cabin Rentals, offering a 3-acre mountain setting with authentic log cabins, a stocked trout pond, hiking trails, and plenty of wildlife. Or, lodge at the Mountain Treetop house for excellent views.

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Red Lodge Mountain ski area isn't far from town and it’s the place to be, come snow season. This famously friendly Montana ski hill offers big mountain adventures without big mountain crowds or prices, and it makes an ideal spot for family vacations.

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Manhattan

Other than sharing its name with an arguably better-known New York borough, this Montana town has little in common with its more popular namesake.

True Story

In the mid-1990s, the Potato Capital of Montana was featured on the "Real Food for Real People" national advertising campaign by the Beef Industry.

Trip Tip

What’s a trip to Montana without visiting Alpacaland for souvenirs a tour of the alpaca farm? From I-90, take the Manhattan exit and the ranch (Sentinel Ranch) is just outside of town off Dry Creek Road. Score yourself a some super-soft winter apparel—like a scarf—yarn, some fresh alpaca meat, and stuffed animals for the kids. Another stop to add to your itinerary is the Land of Magic Steakhouse—they’re known for their secret seasoning, which you have to experience for yourself!

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Check out the Manhattan Farmers Market in Town Park on Wednesdays from 4 – 7 p.m. July through September. Another much-anticipated annual event in Manhattan is the Christmas Stroll, which starts at the Manhattan Community Library with Santa’s arrival. Local businesses stay open late, offering apps and drinks, carolers take to the sidewalks, and there’s even hayrides and a fireworks show.

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McLeod

This little Boulder Valley resort town offers pristine mountain streams, camping, hiking, hunting and horseback riding, to name just a handful.

True Story

In 1916, attempts to drill an oil well on the townsite revealed geothermic heated water, and a swimming pool was opened.

Trip Tip

Enjoy a rustic resort getaway at McLeod Resort on the banks of the West Boulder River or Spring Creek Campground on the banks of the Main Boulder River.

Live Like a Local

Make your way to the Holly’s Road Kill Saloon, where locals and travelers mix among beer, burgers, and Road Kill T-shirts. Plan your visit around one of their movie nights, complete with popcorn.

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Melville

Originally settled by Norwegians in 1877, Melville is pure Montana ranching country 20 miles north of Big Timber along Sweetgrass River.

True Story

At its height, Melville had a flourmill, a cheese factory, a hotel, at least four saloons, two stores and a drug store. The railroad in Big Timber made such luxuries as dried fruits and green coffee available.

Trip Tip

The Melville Lutheran Church is one of the first churches built in Montana. It is a popular stop for locals and visitors, and still holds services today.

Live Like a Local

Eat a real burger. Stop by Cafe 191—on Highway 191, of course—where’s you’ll get treated like a friend or family around the ranch house kitchen table. Enjoy homestyle favorites in a historic and scenic setting beneath the crazy-beautiful Crazy Mountains. Cafe 191 boasts all natural, grass fed and finished grown beef from their 5th generation family ranch—Sweet Grass Land & Cattle. Stop in for a full breakfast, lunch, or a quick coffee fix.

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Molt

West of Billings, about 600 people live in this rural village with an endless, panoramic views and a few historic grain elevators that are still in use.

True Story

About a half hour northeast of Molt is the Yellowstone Drag Strip, a locally owned and operated, NHRA sanctioned, quarter-mile drag strip with a May through September race schedule.

Trip Tip

V Lazy B Bed & Breakfast and Horse Motel offers western hospitality and scenic views of the Big Sky sunrises and sunsets from the large wrap around deck. Hike or ride your mount along the canyon nature trails on this 45-acre property. Overnight horse boarding, turn out area and small riding arena is available for guests traveling through with horses.

Live Like a Local

For 35 miles of hill climbs and descents, pedal the Billings to Molt Bike Route. This is a favorite route among the large contingent of road cyclists who living in Billings. 

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Nye

Originally settled as a mining community, Nye gets its name from Jack Nye, who discovered copper and gold in the area.

True Story

Nye is home to the only platinum/palladium mine in North America.

Trip Tip

Saddle up for the quintessential personalized ranch vacation with Donohoe Outfitting at their ranch or their River Camp. The historic, log River Cabin and Falcon’s Ledge also makes for an idyllic spot to experience some of the most beautiful country in Montana. Guests enjoy fly and freshwater fishing, day hikes, horseback or ATV riding, whitewater rafting, snorkeling and swimming, in-season hunting and historic scenic drives. It’s the perfect spot to set your sights on rest and relaxation, and Montana’s great big sky full of stars.

Live Like a Local

After a long day of Absaroka-Beartooth exploration, grab a drink and a bite to eat at Carter’s Camp Pub.

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Park City

Just 20 minutes from Billings, the growing community of Park City sits just north of the Yellowstone River (read: excellent fishing), and offers a rural, small-town alternative to "city life" in Billings.

True Story

Nearby Canyon Creek Battlefield Monument offers a bit of history as the site of the battle between the Nez Perce and the U.S. Calvary. Each September, the Nez Perce hold a pipe ceremony at the battle site to honor the region's past.

Trip Tip

The Park City United Methodist church was established in 1882. The church has bragging rights as the first church in the Yellowstone Valley. The sandstone building was built in 1898 and has since been extensively refurbished to maintain its beautiful and historic nature. This historic church still hosts Sunday services, and visitors are welcome.

Live Like a Local

Pop in at Pop’s Inn. This hometown bar serves good food and cold beer, and sometimes that’s all you need. Maybe you’ll even catch them on a night when they’re hosting a local musician slinging live tunes.

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Pray

Pray is located along the Yellowstone River in the heart of the aptly named Paradise Valley, just a short drive from Yellowstone National Park.

True Story

When Chico first opened its doors, in 1900, a swim in the covered hot springs “plunge” cost just 10 cents. By 1912, owner Percie Knowles hired a doctor on-site to promote the healing power of the mineral pools as a cure for rheumatism, kidney disease, skin problems and other internal ailments. Within two years, a 20-room “hospital wing” was added onto the hotel, where one of the region’s first brain surgeries was performed.

Trip Tip

Hit up Chico Hot Springs when live music is on tap. Weekends in the Chico Saloon are where the magic happens. The Chico Dining Room and Poolside Grille can’t be beat either. Executive Chef Dave Wells is a James Beard Award semi-finalist for “Best Chef in the Northwest.” Boasting one of the region’s finest wine lists in Montana, Chico is consistently recognized with Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence.

Live Like a Local

Take a day hike in the heavenly landscape of the Paradise Valley and then grab a day pass to Chico Hot Springs and stop in for a soak. If you’re the rugged outdoorsy type, you may even consider hiking to the top of Emigrant Peak at just under 11,000 feet. Start early, pack your bear spray, stay the course, eat up the views, and then bask in the post-summit soak Chico affords.

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Rapelje

This railroad destination point turned farming and ranching community is home to just over 100 residents, and is recognized by the four iconic grain elevators scraping the sky.

True Story

Despite sustaining a K-12 school and a post office, the local hotel burned down, the town hall was removed, and the grocery store was closed.

Trip Tip

There's a black-tailed prairie dog town on the east side of Hailstone Lake, and you may even spot pronghorn antelope in the area. Bring your binoculars.

Live Like a Local

Whether you’re spinning, fly-fishing or casting bait, your chances of catching fish at Dallmann Lake are pretty good, and 57-acre waterbody is likely to be pretty quiet.

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Red Lodge

Red Lodge is a resort and ranching community with a colorful coal mining past that sits in the shadow of 28 different 12,000-foot peaks.

True Story

Red Lodge may very well be Montana’s most haunted town. From the widely reported paranormal activity to the sheer number of UFO sightings, in kind of makes you wonder. Most of the paranormal activity seems to happen at the Pollard Hotel. Incidentally, in 1897, guests of the hotel witnessed the Sundance Kid rob the bank across the street.

Trip Tip

The historic Roman Theater opened its doors in 1917, and it hasn’t skipped a beat since. Catch a film at the Roman on an average night or plan ahead and visit Red Lodge during music events like their yearly Winter Festival Concert. Also, the Red Lodge Farmers Market takes place at Lions Park Fridays 3:30 ¬– 6 p.m. July through September.

Live Like a Local

Top off a day on the slopes with dinner and drinks at Red Lodge Ales Brewing Company. After you’ve finished your last run of the day and made your way back to town, enjoy local eats and craft brews. There’s something extra special about sipping their Beartooth Pale Ale with an up-close-and-personal view of the Beartooth Mountains.

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Reed Point

Less than 200 people call this sleepy little community home, but every Labor Day weekend it hosts the "World's Largest Small-Town Parade.

True Story

Montana poet Richard Hugo’s poem Driving Montana claims that “even the tuna salad in Reed Point is good.” That’s the thing about this place…there’s always something unexpectedly inspiring around the bend, even in a little place like Reed Point.

Trip Tip

Go see Joanne at Bunkhouse Pottery and take home a piece of her exquisite, Montana-made handcrafted pottery. It’s unique, it’s durable, and it the kind of thing that’ll keep your Montana memories with you long after you leave.

Live Like a Local

Mosey on in to the Waterhole Saloon, which still looks a lot like it did back in the day when cowboys, outlaws and fur trappers were holding down the barstools. The walls are filled with trivia, and make sure you look up at the ceiling—it’s wallpapered in license plates. You’ll find a nice selection of curated whiskey and local Montana craft beer.

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Roberts

Roberts, on Rock Creek between Red Lodge and Laurel, is just a few miles from Cooney State Park, a popular recreation spot for boating, swimming, camping and excellent walleye and rainbow trout fishing.

True Story

It’s kinda windy at Cooney State Park, but you can use it to your advantage—the sailing and kite boarding are exceptional here. In the winter, kite skiers and ice sailing are also popular.

Trip Tip

Visit the Lost Village Saloon for good food, good drinks and good company before embarking on the Beartooth Highway into Yellowstone National Park or on your way back from a day on the slopes at Red Lodge Mountain.

Live Like a Local

Stop in and stock up at The Chuckwagon, an Amish owned grocery store and deli serving fresh, sliced deli meats and cheeses, delicious sandwiches, and a local favorite—Wilcoxson's ice cream.

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Roscoe

At the base of the Beartooths, Roscoe is surrounded by adventure and wild places.

True Story

“Where the hell is Roscoe?” is the famous Grizzly Bar & Grill slogan, likely because that’s what people tend to say when you tell them where it is.

Trip Tip

Check out the 12,000-acre Lazy E L working ranch, where guests are treated like family. You be met with cozy accommodations in historic cabins, your own horse, a wrangler, hearty home-cooked meals and spectacular scenery in the foothills of the Beartooth Mountains just north of Yellowstone National Park. The ranch also offers hiking and fishing in addition to acres and acres of peace and quiet for those who prefer to just relax.

Live Like a Local

A visit to the Grizzly Bar & Grill is a Montana rite of passage. This place is downright legendary and has been called one of the best rural bars in the state. The food is rivaled only by the atmosphere.

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Silesia

Silesia is an old farming community named for Silesia Springs—a mineral springs a few miles southwest of Billings where visitors can find western attractions, events and entertainment, warm hospitality, shopping, dining and "big-city" small-town arts and culture.

True Story

The Crow Indians call the Pryor Mountains sacred and attest they are the home of “little people.” The Little People of the Pryor Mountains are said to be ferocious little characters who have been known to impart spiritual wisdom, protect the tribe, and play a major role in shaping the destiny of the Crow People through the dreams of Crow Chief Plenty Coups.

Trip Tip

Stop by the Quick Stop Drive-In—which remains true its retro roots. Choose from a unique selection of sandwiches and over 60 flavors of ice cream. Take note that in the fall they’ve been known to whip up a few batches of a flavor called Pumpkin Pie Cyclone. Make sure you grab a selfie with the sculptured Model T-Cars or their collection of wood-carved bears.

Live Like a Local

Head to The Cottonwood (as it’s known locally) for some good, old-fashioned, small-town fun. The Cottonwood Equine Center provides the region with a comfortable, family-friendly environment and entertainment for all, from equine events to concerts and everything in between.

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Silver Gate

Cooke City's sister village—they’re just 3 miles apart—is located on the Montana/Wyoming border one mile from the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park and the park’s famous Lamar Valley.

True Story

At the time of writing this, the town’s mayor is a dog named Rommel. Things change, but the next mayor of Silver Gate will likely be a dog as well, because it’s tradition.

Trip Tip

Grab some world-famous pumpkin bread at The Log Cabin Café. It’s a traveler favorite and is served with every meal. This Silver Gate gem is open daily May through October and is known for serving savory home cooking to Yellowstone explorers. The menu features famous breakfast traditions like Rocky Mountain Rainbow Trout and the 1937 “secret recipe” Log Cabin Pancakes.

Live Like a Local

Drive your snowmobile to dinner.

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Springdale

Sitting on the Yellowstone River, Springdale was a railroad station and a stopping place for people on their way to Hunter's Hot Springs in Crow Country.

True Story

Today, the only thing that remains of Hunter Hot Springs are the capped springs. Sometimes you can see a trail of steam that has escaped from the caps. Ask any local in Springdale about Hunter Hot Springs, and they’ll likely have a tale to tell and bad directions.

Trip Tip

Springdale Bridge Picnic Area is a great spot to pull over on and watch the Yellowstone River roll by along with Hunters Creek and Mendenhall Creek.

Live Like a Local

Get your fresh, local, dry-aged angus beef from Felton Angus Ranch—a delicious Montana steak experience in every bite. You’ll have to join the Ranch Club Subscription waitlist, but trust us when we say it’s worth the wait.

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Three Forks

Located at the historically significant site where the Madison, Gallatin and Jefferson rivers converge to form the Missouri River is the aptly named town of Three Forks.

True Story

Just over 200 years ago on July 25, 1805, Lewis and Clark were the first white men to enter the confluence region, and they named the three rivers (west to east) for President Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State James Madison, and Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin.

Trip Tip

Course Campers and RVs are welcome at the Three Forks annual antiques aircraft fly-in in August. Events include flour bombing, spot landing contests, live music and dinner both nights of the event. The Farmers Markets in Three Forks is held every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. Also, pack your clubs for the 9-hole Headwaters Golf Course.

Live Like a Local

Kick up your heels at the Headwaters Country Jam, one of the area’s favorite music festivals. Plan to camp out under the star-filled sky and catch a cosmic view of the Milky Way.

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West Yellowstone

All three of Montana's gateway towns are hubs for outdoor adventure, but the picturesque all-American small town of West Yellowstone also packs a lot of personality within its borders.

True Story

You can’t drive your car into Yellowstone National Park from West Yellowstone in the wintertime, but you can ride your snowmobile in or strap on your Nordic skis or snowshoes and go forth. The other thing you can do is take a snowcoach tour of the park. Snowcoaches are basically small tour buses built with treads to run on the snow and they make for a pretty fun way to tour the park in all its winter glory.

Trip Tip

If you find yourself visiting June through August, make sure to experience the Wild West Yellowstone Rodeo for some authentic Wild West flavor. The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is home to several grizzly bears, two packs of wolves, birds and the wonderful Keep Kids program. If you're interested in learning about the park's history, the Yellowstone Historic Center will tell you all about it. For the more adventurous, the Yellowstone Aerial Adventures ropes and zip line will test your skills!

Live Like a Local

Bringing to life the days of the Wild West, the Smoking Waters Mountain Man Rendezvous is a living-history encampment recalling the 1800s with period dress, primitive living, entertainment, demonstrations and seminars. Purveyors of period trade goods, including bead and leatherwork, sell their wares. Traditional competitions such as tomahawk and knife throws, and primitive bow shooting bring sport to the festivities. Listen to cowboy poetry and storytelling to learn a bit about life in a time gone by. Open-fire cooking, musical entertainment and seminars will give you a true feel of how it felt to live, work and trade in days past.

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Willow Creek

Named for the willow-lined creek it sits on the edge of, Willow Creek is a quaint and charming community backed by the beautiful Tobacco Root Mountains with a front-row seat to the scenic, 10,604-foot Hollowtop Mountain—the highest peak in the range.

True Story

In January of 1865, an unidentified man froze to death in a blizzard near Willow Creek and was buried right in the spot where he perished. Shortly thereafter, the land around his burial site was donated to the town by the family who owned it, and thus the Willow Creek Cemetery was born.

Trip Tip

Hit up the Willow Creek Art Walk the third Friday of the month all summer long. In addition to local galleries, the town fire hall full of local artists, family events, music and a farmers market. A half-dozen artists who call Willow Creek home organize the event.

Live Like a Local

Order the above-mentioned ribs from the Willow Creek Cafe & Saloon. There’s even an impressive wine list to boot. On any given night the specials might include chicken saltimbocca, a New York steak with a brandy mushroom sauce or oysters on the half-shell. Everything in the Willow Creek kitchen in handmade.

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Wilsall

Twenty miles northeast of Bozeman, is the quaint and quiet town of Wilsall, set in the Shields Valley of the Bridger Mountain Range on land traditionally occupied by the Crow People.

True Story

About a mile from Wilsall is the oldest archeological dig in North America—the Anzick Site. Back in the early 1960s, a guy named Bill Roy Bray was out hunting marmots and discovered the bones of a human infant covered in red ocher. Later that same decade a couple of Wilsall locals found more human remains as well as over 100 ocher-covered stones, bones and antler artifacts of the ancient Clovis people. A genome analysis of the human bones supports the theory that American Indians are descendant of humans who migrated from Asia through Siberia, and thrived across North America 13,000 years ago.

Trip Tip

Don’t start your adventure without a cup of coffee from Crazy Mountain Momma’s espresso bar and gift shop, and make it a point to grab a sandwich at Val’s Deli. For an unforgettable overnight, stay in a teepee, complete with a fire ring, at Fort Wilsall—a campground located within the Fort’s 15-foot-high barricade walls.

Live Like a Local

Grab a bite to eat at the local bank. That’s right…what was historically the local bank of Wilsall is now the Bank Bar and Vault Restaurant, and you’ll find 1/3-pound burgers made with 100% locally sourced beef from Muddy Creek Ranch, which is literally only 2 miles down the road. (Now that’s fresh.) If you’re a fan of jalapeños, opt for the Wilsall Zinger or the Thunder Jack, and side your burger with a local beer. Take it from Howard R. of Redondo Beach California who said on Yelp “…you need to go to the Bank Bar. Stop reading this. Go to Google maps. Get in your car and drive to Wilsall, Montana. It's simply the best most friendly and awesome bar anywhere.” Howard’s not wrong.

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Rockvale

At the confluence of Rock Creek and the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River on the Bozeman Trail, the small community of Rockvale is unmistakable.

True Story

Rockvale’s got roots not only in then railroad, but as historic Montana junction, from the times of horses on dirt roads to present-day big rigs on wide-open highways. Back in the day, multiple trails met at this intersection, which was part the Bozeman Trial used by traders, trappers, cowboys and cowgirls, gold pursuers, and adventure seekers.

Trip Tip

Just a short distance from Fort Rockvale, find the Rockcreek Campground on Rock Creek, where you can sleep out under the starts within driving distance of some of Montana's best recreation and attractions.

Live Like a Local

Pull up a barstool at The Fort at Rockvale and find out what’s on tap. This remodeled all-American restaurant, sports bar, and state of the art casino is a local legend.

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