City Escapes: Billings, Montana

Text: Tim Kessel • Photography: Tim Kessel

Wide open spaces, hundred-mile views, and light traffic highlight this loop southwest of Billings, MT. Enjoy the sights and sounds of nearby waterways with most of the route flanked by beautiful Montana rivers like the Yellowstone, Stillwater, Rosebud, Bear Creek, and Clark Fork. This is a ride best made in late spring through early fall.

Length

Approximately 170 miles

Meet-up Spot

Starbucks, Crowne Plaza Billings Hotel, 27 N 27th St, Billings, MT

Lunch Stop

Cafe Regis offers great breakfast and lunch options in a pleasing atmosphere. They leverage local ingredients and organic produce from their on-site garden. Open Wednesday – Sunday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Find it at 501 S Word Ave, Red Lodge, MT, (406) 446-1941. 

Scenery (4 out of 5)

The scenery is characterized by the “Big Sky.” For much of the ride, the expansive views are only limited by the curve of the earth. Rivers and stands of evergreens mark other portions of the route.

Traffic (5 out of 5)

Refreshingly light traffic is the rule on the rural portions of this City Escape. Of course there is markedly more traffic in and around Billings.

Difficulty (2 out of 5)

There is a mix of long straights and sections of long sweeping corners. It is a smooth, relaxing ride.

Road Conditions (4 out of 5)

Sporadic potholes and tar snakes are easy to navigate, and most of the tarmac is in very good condition.

Points of Interest

  • Museum of the Beartooths, 
Columbus, MT
This free local museum is a 
great little walk through the area’s 
history. The exhibits are well presented and constantly changing. 
www.museumofthebeartooths.com
  • Red Lodge Mountain, Red Lodge, MT 
About seven miles from the town of Red Lodge, this small, unpretentious ski resort is a relaxing summer rest stop. Nearing 10,000 feet in elevation, the mountain is a visual treat. www.redlodgemountain.com
  • The Moss Mansion, Billings, MT
This impressive red sandstone mansion dates back to 1903. A tour of the museum gives both a view of the Moss family and also the history of Billings as a whole. www.mossmansion.com