For many Americans that have spent their lives living in the coastal parts of the country, Montana is often thought of as the big sky state. The average resident of New York or Los Angeles might know that part of Yellowstone National Park is in Montana. Some might have even taken a fun vacation where they went on a biking or hiking adventure in the mountains, or took some gear to go whitewater rafting on Yellowstone River. However, for the most part, Americans remain largely ignorant of what Montana has to offer.
Unbeknownst to them, it truly is their loss!
For those that have lived or spent time in Montana, it is well-known that there is no shortage of places to travel and delicious restaurants to sample. One of the best places to do all this is Billings, Montana.
With over 160,000 residents, Billings Montana is the largest city in the state. It is located in Yellowstone County, which lies in the south-central part of Montana. For those thinking they might want to travel to Billings, be sure to look at hotels before you arrive. You’re going to need more than one day to see everything there is to see!
Although there are simply too many places to mention, there are some highlights that no one should miss. We’ve listed some of our favorites:
Pompeys Pillar National Monument
Located about 25 miles northeast of Billings, Pompeys Pillar is an impressive 150 foot sandstone pillar over 65 million years old. Attracting over 50,000 tourists every year, the pillar is inscribed with numerous Native American carvings and inscriptions.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of Pompeys Pillar is the signature of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Not only does this offer visitors a unique look into our nation’s history, but it is also the only remaining physical evidence of this portion of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Anyone with an appreciation for US history or simply natural beauty will want to visit Pompeys Pillar!
The Western Heritage Center
The Western Heritage Center is American Association of Museums accredited, and is located in the historic Parmly Billings Memorial Library building in downtown Billings. With an extensive collection of artifacts from the Western United States, the Center has been a cultural hub for residents of Billings and its visitors for decades.
Due to its immense popularity, the Western Heritage Center has expanded to include a variety of exhibits, art, memorabilia, and a number of educational outreach programs. It is a must-see for anyone visiting Montana!
Yellowstone County Museum:
Another must-see museum in Billings is the Yellowstone County Museum. Conveniently located just south of the Billings Logan International Airport, this museum hosts a variety of exhibits on topics ranging from the history of western expansion and the Northern Plains Indians, to the military, mining, herding, and medical industries of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Yellowstone County Museum also provides for the social well-being of the community by providing numerous educational programs for children and adults alike.
Everyone from Billings knows about Moss Mansion! This massive home, built in 1902, sits on a two acre lot and features 28 rooms at a height of 45 feet! The cost to build it was around $105,000, which is over 30 times the cost of the average home in 1902. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and almost all of the original furniture, fixtures, and carpeting is still in place.
The mansion was designed by world-renowned architect Henry Hardenbergh, and now offers tours and exhibits year round. Even if you aren’t a history buff, it is worth visiting Moss Mansion simply to gaze at the opulence and extravagance the wealthy enjoyed a century ago.
Photo Courtesy of Trey Ratcliff