Located at the northwest edge of the Yellowstone River Valley, with the striking Rimrocks sandstone cliffs cutting through town, Billings, Montana is a place to get outdoors and explore. You'll find numerous parks and trails, many along the Yellowstone River. Visitors can also check out a variety of historic and cultural attractions, including the Western Heritage Center and Moss Mansion.
If a trip to Billings, Montana, is on your calendar, here are my recommendations for fun things to see and do:
The Rimrocks, 200- to 500-foot-high sandstone cliffs, slash through the Billings landscape. Combine these landmarks with the rushing Yellowstone River and Montana's big sky and you find a wonderful place to spend time enjoying outdoor recreation and natural beauty. A round of golf is one popular way to savor the surroundings. Walking, hiking, and biking trails, like the Swords Park Trail and the Dutcher Trail, are found in parks and neighborhoods all around Billings. The Yellowstone and other local rivers are perfect for rafting and fishing. Here are some of the best places to enjoy the outdoors in Billings.
- Swords Park and Chief Black Otter Trail
- Located atop the Rimrocks, overlooking much of the city, Swords Park gives you access to great views and to Chief Black Otter Trail.
- Riverfront Park
- Located along the Yellowstone River, Billings' Riverfront Park offers open lawns for playing or picnicking and trails where you can stretch your legs and take in the scenery. In addition to the river views and wildlife, you can enjoy the park's two tiny lakes, Josephine and Cochran. Under improvement, new facilities and amenities will be added to Riverfront Park in the coming years.
- Four Dance Recreation Area
- This undeveloped BLM-managed land bordered by the Yellowstone River is great for hiking and wildlife watching.
Housed in a grand old Romanesque library building, this regional history museum offers collections and exhibits that focus on the Yellowstone River Valley and the northern High Plains region, including northern Wyoming and far-western North Dakota. Kids will have a great time exploring the Western Heritage Center's many hands-on experiences, where they'll learn about Native Americans, the railroad, and the Yellowstone River. This Smithsonian-affiliate museum offers special and traveling exhibitions as well as exhibits that include artifacts from their permanent collection.
You'll see animals from both North America and Asia at this Billings zoo. The mammals, birds, and reptiles on display include some you might see during your time in the Montana outdoors, like bald eagles and river otters. There are also some ZooMontana animals that you wouldn't necessarily want to encounter in the wild, but still wish to see up close, such as grizzly bears, wolves, and Siberian tigers. ZooMontana sprawls over 70 wooded acres, with a lovely creek passing through the complex.
This grand sandstone mansion, built in 1903, is open for one-hour guided tours. Occupied by the prominent Billings' Moss family for many decades, the stately home preserves the original fixtures, furnishings, and architectural details and is a wonderful example of upscale Billings life in the early 20th century.
Located near the airport, this museum also focuses on the history of Montana and the Northern Plains. Exhibits covers such topics as Native Americans, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the railroad, and settlement of the region. Their collection includes numerous North Plains Indian artifacts such as beadwork, tools, and weapons.
Special Events & Festivals in Billings
Billings hosts several major events throughout the year, many with an agricultural focus.
- MontanaFair (August)
- Magic City Blues Festival (August)
- The NILE - Northern International Livestock Exposition (October)
- HarvestFest (October)