ZooMontana – Pompeys Pillar – Little Bighorn Battlefield National Mounument
Billings (pop. 110,323) is the chief city along I-90 and the upper Yellowstone Valley in south-central Montana. Billings is a trade, medical, and entertainment center for all of eastern Montana and the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming.
Billings is a good base from which to make forays to major attractions in the region. Yellowstone National Park, the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument, and Cody, Wyoming are not far from Billings.
Billings has an unusual and unique setting, built as it is at the foot of a massive wall of rimrocks. In geologic history, the Yellowstone River cut deep into the earth creating the present day Yellowstone Valley. This action exposed the magnificent sandstone cliffs which are today the city’s landmark. From the valley floor near the river, it’s more than 460 feet to the top of the rimrocks. A city park near the rimrocks offers fabulous views of the distant Pryor Mountains and the Rockies further to the west.
The beautiful Yellowstone River is a major landmark in Billlings. The Yellowstone is one of America’s last free-flowing rivers. It is clearly a national treasure.
Billings is home to Montana State University-Billings (MSU-B). Some 4,200 students study in many fields in the arts and sciences and professional programs.
The Yellowstone County Museum is a big attraction in Billings. Near the Billings airport, this museum has all the good historical stuff. In downtown Billings, on Montana Avenue, the Western Heritage Center features super exhibits about the homesteading era in Montana.
Billings was a frontier town in 1903, but that didn’t stop P.B. Moss from building an elegant mansion that’d rival the best of Denver or Minneapolis at the time. Today, the Moss Mansion in Billings is open to the public for daily tours. Small fee charged to take a tour.
ZooMontana is a must see in Billings, Montana. Visitors can view wildlife in natural habitats. The zoo is proud of its waterfowl, owl, river otter, and Siberian tiger habitats. The zoo also features a Sensory Garden with native and exotic plants. At the Homestead exhibit, kids enjoy a collection of domestic animals. ZooMontana is located a few miles west of the city on Shiloh Road.
As the largest city in Montana, Billings entertains thousands of visitors. The huge Metra Park complex, located in the eastern part of the city, offers many events throughout the year. The annual fall rodeo at the Metra draws big-time cowboys and cowgirls. Many fun shows and sporting events are held at Metra Park. The Montana Fair is a huge draw in Billings during August. In 2018 the fair runs from August 10-18.
The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is east of Billings on I-90, near Hardin. Before the pioneers moved west, Montana was home to thousands of Indians. The Indians wanted to keep their way of life and protect their land from outsiders. The U.S. government had a different plan and sent the U.S. Army west to subdue the Indians.
At the Battle of the Little Bighorn, on June 25, 1876, the Indians fought back and were victorious. Sioux and Cheyenne Indians led by Crazy Horse delivered a deadly blow, killing George Custer and many soldiers. The land on which this battle was waged remains largely unchanged today.
A few miles east of Billings, on I-94, visitors can see the place where William Clark, a leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, carved his name in a towering sandstone formation a few yards from the Yellowstone River in 1806. Called Pompey’s Pillar National Monument, it is administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land management.
Shopping is excellent in Billings, Montana. The first stop for many visitors is Scheels All Sports in the Rimrock Mall. Scheels sells things for outdoor activities, such as camping, fishing, and hunting. Just down the street on King Avenue is the huge Big Bear Sports Center. Big Bear stocks tons of outdoor clothing and sporting gear, suitable for all sorts of outdoor activities. The Barnes & Noble bookstore is another shopping treat in Billings.
For the best in western wear, shoppers go the Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters in downtown Billings (114 N. 28th St.). This extra nice store has a super selection of hats, boots and shirts.
Yesteryear’s Antique Mall (on 29th Street) is a great place to find hidden treasures in Billings. Find antiques galore in this huge place. The Reef Indoor Water Park in the Bighorn Resort at 1801 Majestic Lane in west Billings is a good place to take the kids.
- The Riversage Billings Inn (406) 252-6800 (GPS map)
- Ledgestone Hotel (406) 259-9454
- Home2 Suites by Hilton (406) 252-2255.
The Northern Hotel (406) 867-6767 (GPS map) downtown has first-class accommodations, the best hotel in Montana.
For dining, Bistecca at the Granary has great food and the atmosphere is especially nice (Yelp Reviews). Located on Poly Drive. The Burger Dive downtown Billings is a favorite for a quick bite in casual surroundings.
For an extra nice atmosphere and good prices dine at Jake’s (Yelp Reviews) restaurant downtown. For sandwiches, don’t miss the McCormick Cafe (Yelp Reviews) on Montana Avenue. Great Harvest Bread is always a good choice.
Billings, a wonderful city to visit. Great shopping and friendly people.
Copyright © 2017 John Sandy