Content Produced in Partnership Visit Southeast Montana
In Southeast Montana, we take things a little slower. We revel in the beauty that’s right out our back doors and we’re in awe of the expansive night sky. We’re rooted in Western history and lucky to be home to top-notch breweries, steaks and some of the most hospitable people you’d ever want to meet. Give us a visit, and see what we mean.
A Visit to the Wild West
Southeast Montana and bucking brocs are pretty much synonymous. That’s thanks to the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale, where some of the finest bucking horses make their debut each year. In fact, almost any rodeo across the country has the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale to thank in some way, shape or form, as rodeo contractors find the best here year after year. Besides seeing the tremendous draw of the horses, the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale offers a long weekend of activities, like a concert, bull riding, trade expo, street dance, parade and more.
Another Wild West must-see is the Jersey Lilly Bar and Cafe, located in Ingomar. Established as a bank in 1914, the now restaurant and bar is a Southeast Montana staple. It’s full of Western character and charm, and you’d be hard pressed to find a regular who didn’t have a story of one of the previous owners—one of whom is said to have won the Lilly in a poker game.
The Montana Bar, one of the state’s most historic, is complete with steer heads, ornate woodworking and Italian-style tile. The bar, which has been serving Montanans since 1908, is a destination drinking spot that will truly inspire your inner cowboy.
Take a ride through Western history at the Range Rider Museum, where visitors can lose themselves in exhibits that cover everything from the Mesozoic period to modern day. With 13 buildings across 13 acres, there’s no shortage of Montana history to enjoy with your family and friends.
Fishing is Always Open—the Season Doesn’t Close, Nor Does the River
Fishing in Southeast Montana takes your breath away. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the Bighorn River or the Yellowstone, or if you’ve found your lucky spot on one of the smaller bodies of water in the area, the fish are plentiful and the landscapes are endless.
The Tongue River Reservoir, a 12-mile stretch of water through the rolling hills of Southeastern Montana, is a picturesque escape into the solitude of nature. Crappie, walleye, bass, and northern pike are plentiful here, and flyfishers can try their luck, as well.
For a bit more seclusion, the Musselshell River offers only a few points of entry for anglers. Large brown trout can be found in the more northern points of the river, with smallmouth bass and catfish as challenging alternatives.
Castle Rock Lake near Colstrip is another fishing destination, full of walleye, pike and and bass. The 2.5-mile lake also offers a bike and walking trail for visitors.
Fishing in Southeast Montana is so much a part of the culture, that whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or a novice just trying it on for size, the options are plenty.
We Go Back—Way, Way Back
Take a bit and be inspired by Southeast Montana’s history—spanning from prehistoric times to modern day. The Frontier Gateway Museum has everything from dinosaur fossils and Civil War memorabilia to railcars and medieval armor. It’s hard to imagine a more incredible display of history in one place.
The Carter County Museum, Montana’s first dinosaur museum, is located in the small town of Ekalaka, population 331. Similar to the Frontier Gateway Museum, the Carter County Museum is part of the Montana Dinosaur Trail. Since 2013, the museum has hosted the Annual Dino Shindig, which has numerous paleontologists speak to the public, and there's a street dance for visitors.
The Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum blends Biblical teachings and prehistoric happenings with the belief that all things were supernaturally created by God. This exhibit has 24 full-sized dinosaurs and many single dinosaur fossils. Anyone who digs for fossils will find these museums fascinating.
Located in the Badlands, Baisch’s Dinosaur Digs is a fun attraction for the whole family. Experienced guides conduct day trips near Glendive to excavate fossils, and, with a few exceptions, allow you to keep whatever you find. So bring home a fossil and plenty of memories.
Our History Lives
Montana is a gorgeous state full of incredible history. The only on-site physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark expedition is on display at Pompeys Pillar National Monument in Southeast Montana. With excerpts pulled from Clark’s journals, historians have pieced together the footsteps of the voyagers. Visitors can even see Clark’s signature engraved and framed in the stone.
The 202-step climb to the top of the pillar is well worth it for the breathtaking 360-degree view. Kids have a ball climbing in and out of replica dugout canoes and trying a buffalo jacket on for size. The whole family can partake in a picnic, birdwatching or simply taking in the views of the Yellowstone River.
One of the most well-known locations is the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn. The national monument in Montana commemorates the battle between the US Army's 7th Cavalry and the Lakota and Cheyenne tribes who were defending their way of life. See the site of Custer’s Last Stand, and explore historic images as well as photo galleries of reenactments. Visitors to Southeast Montana can also use The Trail to the Little Bighorn to see 20 historic stops that include 19 markers indicating movements of Lt. Col. Custer and the 7th Cavalry in the days leading up to and immediately following The Battle of Little Bighorn.
The largest American Indian celebration in the state and one of the largest in the county, the 101st Crow Fair, takes place the third Thursday in August. The four-day powwow includes a rodeo and parade, and with more than 50,000 in attendance each year, it’s a stunning array of culture and tradition.
Our Steaks Are Local and So is Our Beer
We really hope you come to Southeast Montana hungry and thirsty. Billings, Montana, is home to the only walkable brewery tour in the state. Six breweries, a cider house and two distilleries are waiting for you. But before you get to tasting, stop into the Bull Mountain Grille, whose tagline is “Great Steaks. No Bull.” How could you go wrong?
Or try out The Burger Dive in downtown Billings. You may have seen their famous burgers on The Travel Channel’s “Food v. Man” competition, and if that isn’t enough to entice you, head chef and owner Brad Halsten was recently named Burger Champion at the World Food Championships.
Beaver Creek Brewery in Wibaux is known as the “beer oasis,” and the nickname is pretty accurate. Enjoy beer flights served on beaver-tail-shaped wooden paddles or try one of their rotating seasonal brews. With its sister business nextdoor, The Historic Gem Theatre and Pub, patrons can enjoy live music, great food and a true Southeast Montana atmosphere.
If you are more into wine, try varieties from locally grown fruits at Tongue River Winery near Miles City. You can walk to the vineyard and taste samples with the winemaster. In Billings, Yellowstone Cellars & Winery offers "serious wines from Big Sky Country," along with an intimate atmosphere and local music.
The Hog-n-Jog Café, a breakfast and lunch spot in Terry, is a small-town find with bigtime taste. Everything is made from scratch, and the barbeque is top notch. Hog-n-Jog Café serves locally-raised beef and pork, as well as seasonal produce. This hidden gem is a place to go if you want to feel like family, or at the very least, a Southeast Montanan. For dinner in the same vicinity, check out BD Bar in Fallon for a mouthwatering local steak.
Less Crowds—More Space
What we have to offer is glorious, quiet, serene space. The entire landscape of our state is stunning, and we have so much of it to see.
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area has more than 120,000 acres of opportunity and history. Be sure to enter the north district at Fort Smith, as the south entrance is a three-hour drive and in Wyoming. As part of the National Park Service, Bighorn Canyon has a plethora of activities to offer. Bring your own boat or rent a pontoon or kayak, see the cliffs that tower nearly 1,000 feet above the water, take a hike through one of the three trails in the north district or toss a line in to catch some trout.
Makoshika State Park, the state’s largest park, is full of activities for everyone. Start by seeing the dinosaur exhibits with tyrannosaurus and triceratops fossils. Then hike the Cap Rock Trail, where trailgoers can walk across the natural bridge to the top of the park for some of the most spectacular views the state has to offer. Explore the nearly 12,000 acres of virtually untouched badlands, or enjoy frisbee golf, archery or watch for wildlife. Makoshika State Park also offers the option of renting and sleeping in a teepee in the park.
Night Skies Are Our Secret Weapon
We bet you have never seen anything quite as awe inspiring as the night sky in Southeast Montana. Its expansiveness and beauty are unmatched. Use Southeast Montana’s Panoramas That Inspire map to plan out your scenic night sky route as well as another 10 spots to be artistically inspired. Spots like Four Dances Natural Area, 500 feet above the Yellowstone River, offers an ideal location to see both sunrises and sunsets. The Terry Badlands scenic overlook is another point on the map that gives a full 360-degree view of the entire vast sky.
The region also offers a plethora of summer events that let visitors marvel at the beauty of the region, so regardless of how far off the beaten path you’re looking to venture, Southeast Montana has plenty of options.