Prehistoric hunters left their mark with over 100 rock paintings in their dwelling, Pictograph Caves. The oldest rock art that can be seen here is over 2,000 years old. There are three main caves to explore in Pictograph Cave State Park: Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost. The park has a short and pleasant quarter-mile trail that loops around to the caves, with displays along the way that tell the stories behind this archeologically significant site. It is recommended for visitors to bring binoculars to look at the details of the rock art and the distant views. Walk on the trails of your ancestors and enjoy the rock art, scenic views, and bird-watching.
At Riverfront Park, you can catch a glimpse of the longest free-flowing river in the United States, the Yellowstone River. There are many trails near to Riverfront Park that is good for long walks on trails and wooded paths. This is also a dog-friendly park, so your four-legged friend can enjoy the fresh air and trails too. There are many fishing, picnicking and bird watching opportunities with geese, ducks, and blackbirds all in the area. The leaves turn beautiful colors in the Fall, and the views are especially beautiful at sunset. If visiting during the summer months, bring your insect repellent for the mosquitoes!
The Rimrock Bluffs, also known as the Rims or Rimrocks, are geological rimrock sandstone formations that run through the city of Billings and are visible from downtown. Eighty million years ago, the Western Interior Seaway was where Billings stands today, slowly rising and falling over time and leaving behind compressed sand that became this massive formation. The Yellowstone river has been cutting into it for a million years now, leaving a canyon in the rimrock. You can see the history on the rocks if you take a scenic drive, hike, or run on top the Rimrock Bluffs. While the rocks themselves are spectacular, you can also catch a view of Billings at sunset that is truly breathtaking.
Address: Take Highway 3 from east to west
This beautiful reservoir is the ideal place to go with your loved ones to relax on a summer day. Swimming, boating, fishing, bird watching, and picnicking are all permitted here. You can also go on a 1.4-mile hiking trail, or take a walk around the lake itself. There is even an area for walking your dog. However, Lake Elmo is Montana’s most popular park, drawing over 150,000 visitors in the summer months, so plan accordingly.
Located northeast of the Montana Power Plant, Coulson Park is a public park that provides access to Sacrifice Cliffs on the southern bank of the Yellowstone River. Legend says the name of Sacrifice Cliff comes from two Crow warriors, who rode their horses over the cliff after they found a tribal encampment that was almost completely wiped out by smallpox. The rocky cliffs plunge over 200 feet into the river, so it’s easy to imagine this legend is true. Today, visitors use the river access to kayak, canoe, and raft and the park also offers a trail that is great for running, walking or biking. Be sure not to miss this historic and awe-inspiring site when in Billings.
By Jonaki B. Mehta