You don't have to drive too far out of Billings, Montana to find some truly interesting and fun things to see and do. The region is diverse, with a lot to explore, including mountains, canyons, and historic sites. History buffs, in particular, will find this region's national monuments and Old West atmosphere fascinating.
Located just east of Billings off of Interstate 94, Pompey's Pillar is a fascinating historical spot with unique physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark expedition. On the return route, a party headed by Clark separated from the rest of the expedition 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). The site is now preserved as Pompey's Pillar National Historical Monument, with an interpretive center and trail. A must-stop for history buffs.
This National Monument preserves and interprets the site of one of the late and most notorious battles of the 19th-century Indian wars. The battle between 263 U.S. Army soldiers, led by Lt. Col. George Custer, and thousands of Lakota and Cheyenne warriors took place on June 25-26, 1876. Today, visitors to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument can learn more about those fateful days by taking a self-guided walking and auto tour, by experiencing the exhibits and film at the official visitor center, and by exploring some key sites on the battlefield.
The Yellowtail Dam on the Bighorn River created a vast reservoir that extends over 70 miles down into Wyoming. Passing through colorful canyons, the Bighorn Lake and surrounding landscape are perfect for outdoor recreation of all kinds, from fishing and boating on the lake to camping, hiking, and wildlife watching. Stop by the Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center to learn more about the natural and human history of the canyon through films and exhibits.
South of Billings, the relatively small mountain range is home to a free-roaming herd of mustangs. Visitors to the Pryor Mountain will enjoy wildlife watching along with interesting geology and historic sites. To learn more about the Pryor Mountain mustangs, visit the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center museum in Lovell, Wyoming.
Located within the Crow Reservation south of Billings, this official historic site preserves the farmland and home of Chief Plenty Coups. Visitors to this day-use state park will enjoy a visitor center with interpretive exhibits, hiking, wildlife watching, and fishing.
This mountain resort town is a fun place to wander and explore. Red Lodge is located an hour south of Billings in the foothills of the gorgeous Bighorn Mountains. The charming downtown offers numerous shops and eateries in historic buildings. Local attractions include the Carbon County Historical Society and Museum and the Beartooth Nature Center. Red Lodge is located at the east end of the famous Beartooth Highway, considered one of the most scenic drives in the US.
There are a number of scenic driving routes you can explore both east and south of Billings. All of these drives have an Old West flavor, featuring river and canyon scenery. Loops that include driving east on Interstate 94, then cutting south on one of the state highways, and returning to Billings via Interstate 90 are popular.