Billings, MT

Day Trips in Billings, Montana in 2021

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Photo by Steve Halama on

Everyone always comments on how beautiful Montana is, how friendly Glacier National Park is, or how much they love Yellowstone. No, Montana is more than half plains, with the Rocky Mountains separating the state from north to south.

When people hear about the plains, they want to offer their condolences, but it's unnecessary. The terrain varies from lush riverbeds to austere, windswept plateaus, and the Rimrocks are an imposing sandstone barrier. A million years ago, the Yellowstone River carved its way through this sandstone and left behind the Rims, a fertile valley, and its nooks and crannies.

There are great trails to explore in Billings on the Yellowstone River, from easy to challenging. The city of Billings on Montana's Yellowstone River is known as Montana's Trailhead.

1. Shiloh Conservation Area

The 66-acre park is on the edge of Billings, off Shiloh Road, and intended to reduce the chance of flooding and pollutant runoff into the Yellowstone River. It offers paved, handicapped-accessible trails. During the park's open season, you can usually spot ospreys, plovers, red-winged blackbirds, and bald eagles in a cottonwood tree on the north side of the park. A fishing pond is stocked with rainbow trout and largemouth bass and a shelter to shelter from the summer heat. Other than the shelter, the park provides little shade. Dogs on leashes are welcome. The park has no restrooms.

2. Lake Elmo State Park

The Lake Elmo State Park in Billings lets visitors bike and walk through the Heights neighborhood. Besides biking and walking, the lake also allows visitors to swim, kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard, or fish -- provided they have a license. Several restful lakes in the area enable motorized boating, and a fenced dog park offers dogs the opportunity to play off-leash. From the Lake Elmo trail, you can reach several parking lots easily. The highway trail circles Lake Elmo for 1.4 miles. It features benches to rest on for people-watching along the way.

3. Chief Black Otter Trail 

It offers sweeping views of Samish Valley on a path that skirts the Rimrocks above Billings and gets its name from a Crow chief buried in the area. Both ends of the trail have parking lots. You can park at the Boothill Cemetery near the eastern trailhead. The parking lot is, unfortunately, not well marked at the western trailhead. You can find the Scenic Drive entrance on Highway 3, 1.3 miles from Logan Airport.

4. Two Moon Park

During two seasons of the year, the Yellowstone River is next to a trail series that meander through the tall grass and cottonwoods. The park got its name from a Cheyenne chief. Summer is a beautiful time for migratory birds because the Weeping Wall Trail offers the chance for cliff jumpers and swimming. The wall is also a haven for birds in the summer and a shimmering ice curtain in the winter. 

5. John H. Dover Memorial Park

This fantastic destination in Billings, Montana, is located along the Yellowstone River as it winds its way north of Two Moon Park. There is a half-mile loop trail that is easy to walk. Its unpaved surface has suspension bridges and varied terrain while pointing out old farm machinery that is an exciting subject for a photograph. You can also spot deer and antelope in this area, as well as see farm machinery dating to the Dover family's homesteading days. It's best to visit between May and October, so the park is at its best. The entrance has benches, picnic tables, and restrooms. There is a proposed dog park, but currently, animals are not allowed in the park.

Those not on their bikes can take advantage of the Spoke Shop's bikes for rent if they come to visit. Be prepared for some action in 2021 in Billings, Montana! 

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