Nestled in southern Montana against the Beartooth Mountains (the state’s highest mountain peaks), 60-miles from either Billings, MT or Cody, WY, you will find Red Lodge, a quaint town that offers the perfect mix of being on vacation and feeling at home. With opportunities to explore the state’s nature and outdoor beauty, as well as to appreciate the town’s art and culture, Red Lodge visitors will find warmth and western hospitality wherever they go.
The town borders the Custer Gallatin National Forest; and by way of the Beartooth Highway, day trips to Yellowstone National Park are made possible in the warmer months. Summers in Red Lodge are short but offer cool and pleasant days. Snow typically covers the ground by mid-December and can last into May, which ensures the Red Lodge Mountain Resort can provide exceptional ski conditions.
The valley that is home to Red Lodge served the Crow Tribe long before the arrival of permanent settlers who came to pursue mining. The town was officially established in 1884 when a post office was built; and with the opening of the Rocky Fork Coal Company’s first mine in the area, Red Lodge became home to hundreds of immigrants who moved out west. When the coal mining industry around the town was killed in the early 1900s following the Great Depression, Red Lodge became known for producing bootleg liquor. However, by the mid-20th century, tourism, recreation, and ranching took over the town’s economy. With great effort to preserve the town and its history, visitors will experience much of the town’s past in addition to its vibrant, functional present.
Things to Do in and Around Red Lodge
Beartooth Highway and Yellowstone National Park
Open in the summer, Beartooth Highway, considered ‘the most beautiful roadway in America’ by On the Road correspondent Charles Kuralt, winds from Red Lodge to the northeastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The drive takes about three hours, but it is worth making a trip out of, stopping along the way. The highway was completed in 1936; and with over a dozen stop-worthy locations, you will climb to nearly 11,000 feet above sea level on this drive. Once reaching the well-known national park, visitors have access to the legendary Lamar Valley, where much of the park’s wildlife is often seen.
With long, cold, and snowy winters, the local ski areas thrive and offer some of the most beautiful views. Red Lodge Mountain provides pure and simple Montana skiing and has grown by expanding its terrain park, opening a ski school, providing year-round reservations, and including other resort services, including a golf course. In addition to Red Lodge Mountain, visitors can ski at the Red Lodge Nordic Center and the Beartooth Basin Summer Ski Area. There is also an ice-skating rink in town that is open to the public anytime there is not an event scheduled.
Camping, Hunting, Fishing, Rafting, Riding
For those that prefer a more rugged getaway over cozy lodging options, there is no shortage of campsites in the area. Fish and game are abundant around Red Lodge, and with multiple local guide services, hunters and fishermen are sure to find an excursion that fits their desires. On the Stillwater and Yellowstone rivers, your need for excitement can be fulfilled with rafting adventures; and visitors can experience Red Lodge’s rich ranching heritage with various horseback riding outfitters.
Art and Culture
Red Lodge’s history and art presence are unique. The Carbon County Historical Society and Museum and the Buses of Yellowstone Preservation Trust offer a glimpse into the history of the area. The Carbon County Arts Guild & Depot Gallery is one place to enjoy original art from over 200 western and contemporary artists, and many local artists have galleries and studios in town. Shopping in town offers an experience that is personable and charming with shops that closer resemble galleries of what the owners are passionate about.
Exemplifying the town’s close-knit culture and its roots, there are annual events that the town takes great pride in. Red Lodge hosts the Home of Champions Rodeo over the week of July 4 each year, which also includes a night of PRCA Xtreme Bulls. The town hosts Montana’s premier music camp in June known as the Red Lodge Music Festival, and the Beartooth Bike Rally and Iron Horse Rodeo bring in motorcyclists from across the country each July. The holidays are filled with carnivals, festivals, and events, and there are concerts, shows, runs, races, and parades throughout the year. For more information on traveling to Red Lodge, Montana, please visit https://redlodge.com/.
Cowboy Lifestyle Magazine
This article was created for the Spring Issue of the Cowboy Lifestyle Magazine which was released in early April. You can catch this article and many more by checking out the full issue. For more information on Cowboy Lifestyle Magazine, visit the website here.
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