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Red Lodge

Red Lodge is the gateway to the Beartooth All-American Road, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area; and, the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Unique shops, galleries, restaurants and drinking establishments line its historic downtown streets. Red Lodge began as a mining town in the late 1800s. Today, it is a Mecca for both summer and winter outdoor enthusiasts. Locals and visitors alike enjoy fantastic hiking, mountain climbing, river rafting, fishing, horseback riding, biking, ATV riding and snowmobiling, skiing and more. Red Lodge, the county seat of Carbon County, is the regional cultural center and is home to many artist and writers. A trip to Red Lodge would not be complete without a visit to the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary, a wildlife refuge for native species.  

Location: 44 miles south on MT Hwy 212 from Laurel, MT (exit 434 on I-90); and, a 75 minute drive from Billings Logan International Airport.

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Red Lodge Itinerary

If you only have 3 days in the Red Lodge area, this itinerary should help you plan your journey.  If you have more time spend more time doing one of these great activities in the area.

Day 1 Arrive midday and spend the afternoon exploring the historic downtown and visiting Beartooth Nature Center (home to bear, bison, elk, mountain lions and more). Dine at one of the many local restaurants. Plan your visit to coincide with one of the many events hosted in Red Lodge. Hike along a rushing mountain stream to a spectacular waterfall; or to an alpine lake. If you’re not up for a hike, then consider a drive up a challenging jeep track to the top of Hell Roaring Plateau. Take in 18-holes of golf while enjoying spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Tennis, swimming, ice skating and bowling are available. For information, stop in the Visitors Center located at Highway 212 and 3rd Street on the north side of Red Lodge. The Red Lodge Ranger Station is located on the south side of Red Lodge at 6811 Hwy 212.

Day 2 Pack your lunch, your camera and a windbreaker and drive the 150 mile circle over the Beartooth All-American Road and the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway Loop. Return to Red Lodge via WY highway 120 and MT highways 72 and 308.  Click here, for your complete days driving tour.

Day 3 Hike the Stillwater River Cascades and trail to Sioux Charley Lake or pick another great activity to participate in in the Red Lodge area.

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Red Lodge Top Ten

1.Beartooth All-American Road & Chief Joseph Scenic Byway Loop
Best Time of Year: Early June through September
Time Needed: Allow a minimum of 5 hours to tour this 150 mile loop. It is easy to make it a full day adventure!

Hike to a Pristine Alpine Lake, a Spectacular Waterfall or through a Narrow Canyon along Thundering Cascades.
Best Time of Year: Early June through mid-October
Time Needed: From ½ day to full day

3.Bicycle the Beartooth All-American Road– A one of a kind Adventure, Hold On!
Best Time of Year: Early June through September
Time Needed: ½ day tour; mornings & afternoons

4.Whitewater Rafting– On the Stillwater River
Best Time of Year: Late May through mid-July (raft trips available through September)
Time Needed: Full day & ½ day trips are available

5.Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding
Best Time of Year: Late November through early April-normally more snow late season
Time Needed: ½ day lift tickets are available

6.Cross Country Skiing & Snoeshoeing
Best Time of Year: Late November through early April
Time Needed: ½ day minimum

7.Wildlife Refuge
Get up close and personal with over 70 animals at the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary
Best Time of Year: Open year round, weather permitting.
Time Needed: Minimum two hours

8.History Buffs Tour of Red Lodge
Best Time of Year: Summer: 7 days a week, Winter: Thursday, Friday & Saturday
Time Needed: ½ day to full day

9.World Class Fishing 
Enjoy breathtaking scenery while testing your fly in one of Red Lodge area’s world class streams.
Best Time of Year: Late June through early October
Time Needed: ½ day to full day

10.Horseback Heaven 
Saddle-up for your adventure riding the High Plains or into the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness
Best Time of Year: Late May through early October
Time Needed: ½ day to full day; or, multi-day
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Red Lodge Sites and Activities

Beartooth All-American Road & Chief Joseph Scenic Byway Loop– America’s Highway has been called “the most beautiful drive in America,” by late CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt. If you plan on exploring Red Lodge or Yellowstone Country, this is one attraction that should not be missed.

Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary (Wildlife Refuge) – Spend 1-3 hours exploring the refuge and see the Montana’s native wildlife up close and personal.  A favorite for kids and adults alike.

Skiing and Golfing– Red Lodge’s premier ski and golf resort, the Mountain is less than 15 minutes from town; and, the golf course is on the north edge of Red Lodge.  One of the best places in the country to learn to ski, with an abundance of easy runs and it is not overcrowded.
Beartooth Bike Tours – “It’s All Downhill From Here…” What a ride.

Red Lodge Carnegie Library – Quality local public library. Located at the corner of 8th Street and Broadway Avenue. Computers available and WIFI. (406) 446-1905.

Peaks to Plains Museum – The Carbon County Historical Society and Museum is located at 224 N Broadway Avenue in Red Lodge. Local museum, telling the local story of Red Lodge and Carbon County from the mid-1800s to present time…

The Roman Movie Theater – Not many 1 screen theaters still exist that show first run films.  Films daily at: 7:15 p.m.  Take one evening and make it a movie night.

Horseback Riding – Enjoy hundreds of miles of miles of trails in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. One-half day to multi-day guided trips available.

Whitewater Rafting – For those with an adventurous spirit, or try a late season float tour.
World Class Fishing – What else can we say.

Horse Drawn Wagon Rides- The City of Red Lodge businesses offer FREE horse drawn wagon rides around town each evening.  Kids and romantics just love the ambiance.

Hiking– A couple of our favorite Yellowstone Hikes are in the Red Lodge area, take the opportunity to enjoy one of these spectacular hikes.

Picnic along Rock Creek- A popular summer lunch spot is to take a picnic to “City Park,” and enjoy along the edge of Rock Creek. Turn east across the 19th Street Bridge to the Park.

Comedy Nights at the Pub.
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Red Lodge Hikes

Best Time of Year to Hike: Early June through mid-October 
Time Needed: From ½ day to full day

Some of our favorite nearby hikes:

Some nearby areas for hiking and other outdoor adventures:
  • Custer National Forest
  • Absaroka- Beartooth Wilderness
  • Granite Peak (highest point in Montana)
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