Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Red Lodge, MT

  • Published 2022/11/09

Indulge in the best things to do in Red Lodge, Montana, which includes a wide range of exciting outdoor activities, stunning scenery, and delectable dining options.

At the Beartooth Mountains and on Highway 212, Red Lodge is an ideal site for travelers.

Rising to a height of 5,500 feet, the Beartooth Mountains provide a picturesque backdrop for the town.

After signing a deal with the Crow Indians on September 17, 1851, the United States government ceded the region that is now Red Lodge, Montana to the Crow Indians.

Gold and coal were discovered in 1866 and 1870, respectively.

A location of religion and hunting for the Crow Indians, Red Lodge was a sacred site.

Red clay was used to decorate the council tepee. People say that this custom is what gave the area its name.

On April 11, 1882, the United States and the Crow signed a treaty that permitted settlement of the region.

Red Lodge has grown into a popular tourist attraction in its own right as the county seat of Carbon County and a summer stop for tens of thousands of visitors.

Montana’s Beartooth Mountains and Custer Gallatin National Forest surround Red Lodge, making it ideal for world-class outdoor activities and easy access to Yellowstone National Park.

You’ll find many locally-owned stores, restaurants, and lodging options in its historic downtown.

Red Lodge is a year-round Basecamp for exploring the Beartooths.

Drive along the Beartooth Highway

Bird's eye view of Beartooth Highway

Daniel J. Rao /

The Beartooth Highway soars 10,947 feet above sea level and has been dubbed “the most magnificent route in America” by On the Road journalist Charles Kuralt.

As a result of the highway’s completion in 1936, it has enthralled countless travelers with its breathtaking vistas of one of America’s most mountainous and untamed regions.

Many habitats are encountered along the road, from rich lodgepole pine forests to alpine tundra, as the Yellowstone Park Highway snakes its way from the park’s northern entry to Red Lodge.

Scenic view of Beartooth Highway with mountains and trees in the background

Daniel J. Rao /

Glacial cirques, crystal-clear alpine lakes, and snow that lasts far into the summer greet motorists at the highway’s highest point.

There is little room for trees and bushes to grow at this altitude, and the plants that do manage to thrive have evolved in astonishing ways.

The Beartooth Highway provides easy access to many of the mountains’ 950 alpine lakes and hundreds of miles of trails.

Landscape of Beartooth Highway

Gestalt Imagery /

Learn Clay Art and Catch Exhibits at Red Lodge Clay Center

David and Maggie Hiltner inaugurated the Red Lodge Clay Center in 2006.

Classes, artist residencies, ceramic art exhibitions, and ceramic supplies are available at the Clay Center.

Over 100 nationally acclaimed artists from Montana and throughout the country are represented in our downtown Red Lodge retail location.

In addition, it provides free and open-to-the-public artist workshops every year.

The Red Lodge Clay Center’s aim is to help artists and the creative process and provide a workspace for ceramic artists who are serious about their careers.

Stop Over Vista Point Observation Site

Breathtaking view from Vista Point Observation Site

Hannah Henderson /

The Beartooth Scenic Highway’s Vista Point is a well-known rest area.

There are just two public restrooms along the route.

The Vista Point parking lot is 18.9 miles south of Red Lodge on US Hwy 212 (the Beartooth Scenic Highway).

Stunning views of Rock Creek Valley and an array of educational exhibits may be found at the end of a short hard surface walk that leads to a viewing platform high above the valley.

Ample parking spaces and restrooms are provided.

Enjoy stunning views of the Rock Creek drainage from the top of this mountain.

You may view the Hellroaring Plateau, Silver Run Plateau, Line Creek Plateau, and the Beartooth Plateau.

Tour Red Lodge with Elk River Outfitters

Elk River Outfitters is a Montana-based family company in its sixth generation.

The owners encourage you to join them in this location for the finest of Montana adventure.

They continue to collaborate in hunting activities with the Crow Indians.

At the start of the Red Lodge rides, you’ll be able to observe seven distinct mountain ranges from a vantage point overlooking Rock Creek.

These rides begin just a short distance from Red Lodge’s central business district, and they’ll offer you a taste of the wild west.

There are options for hourly, half-day, and full-day rides.

Ride a UTV with Red Lodge Powersports

Red Lodge Powersports can help you plan your outdoor excursions.

It provides whole and half-day snowmobile, UTV, adventure rentals, and various other services.

Remarkably stunning Beartooth Mountains were a driving force for creating Red Lodge Powersports in April 2012.

It has hourly, half-day, and full-day pricing for UTV rentals.

Glacier Lake Road, the West Fork of Rock Creek, and the Meeteetse Trail, as well as the Beartooth Pass, are a few of the paths to be explored on the Hell Roaring Plateau.

You may drive directly from the shop to the trails in any of its street-legal UTVs.

Go Skiing at Red Lodge Mountain

View on the Red Lodge Mountain

Elkman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This area is home to one of Montana’s most popular ski resorts.

The mountain has a more laid-back attitude than the rest of the state.

There are also fewer lift lineups and lower-priced lift tickets.

However, don’t overlook the locals’ favorite ski and snowboarding at this resort.

Untracked powder blankets the resort’s 1,600 acres and provides an annual snowfall of 250 inches or more.

Lessons, rentals, and a quaint Main Lodge with cafeteria-style eating round out the mountain’s offerings.

A famous Winter Carnival is held on the hill, which features costumed characters and races and fireworks and pyrotechnics.

Explore the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary

To learn about the wildlife and ecosystem that inhabit Yellowstone, this is a terrific location to visit.

As a non-profit organization, Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary is neither affiliated with nor financed by Yellowstone National Park or the federal government.

For the most part, it only takes in animals who have undergone rehabilitation and have been declared unfit for the wild.

This incredible facility should be on your bucket list if you want to learn more about the Yellowstone Ecosystem, which extends far beyond the park’s boundaries.

The sanctuary offers guided tours and self-guided tours, which are available upon request.

Sign up for an excursion if you want to learn more about the Yellowstone Ecosystem or if you want your children to get a better understanding of it.

Go Fishing at Wild Bill Lake

Picturesque view at Wild Bill Lake

Edward Fielding /

The lake is located off the west fork of Rock Creek Road, south of town, and is a lovely spot for a picnic.

For this reason, it’s a popular destination for families eager to get outside and discover new things.

Several wheelchair-accessible fishing piers may be found on the half-mile Wild Bill National Recreation Trail.

There are many places to stop and have a meal while taking in the serene surroundings of the lake.

The picnic space is only available for one day at a time.

First-come, first-served is the rule for the park’s four picnic areas.

It is not uncommon to see a large group of anglers converging on Wild Bill Lake’s shoreline.

Rainbow trout are frequently stocked in the lake by the U.S. Forest Service.

Do note that anyone above the age of 12 who wants to fish in Montana must have a valid fishing license.

The lake is stocked with rainbow trout many times a year and is an excellent place for families to catch fish.

Go Iceskating at Red Lodge Ice

People from all over the world come to the Red Lodge Ice to enjoy the chilly weather in the winter.

Since 2006, this community-run and volunteer-run ice rink in Lions Park has provided the town with a place to skate.

Get your skates on and come to the Red Lodge Ice Rink for some family fun in the great outdoors.

The ice rink also offers night skiing.

It also hosts special hockey and figure-skating events in addition to its many open skate sessions.

Youth hockey and adult pick-up leagues are also offered at the arena, and no prior hockey expertise is necessary for either.

Spend a Few Days at Basin Campground

Southcentral Montana’s Custer Gallatin National Forest is home to Basin Campground.

The Basin Campground is located on Rock Creek’s West Fork banks.

The campsite is situated at 7000 feet and covers 7 acres.

Drinking water is available in 30 of the campgrounds through hand pumps.

The Basin Campground is near many trailheads and a local creek where fishing may be enjoyed.

You may bring your pet as long as it is on a leash.

In this location, 30 feet is the maximum length suggested for trailers.

You may stay here for up to 10 days.

Make sure to sign up and pay for the camping fee.

Explore the Region’s History at Carbon County Historical Society & Museum

The Carbon County Museum is housed in a historic red-brick structure on the north end of the business district.

As the state’s first Labor Temple, this striking structure is a piece of history in and of itself.

It was built in 1909.

The museum’s exhibits include a wide range of topics, from the ancient civilizations of the region’s Native Americans to the contemporary rodeo.

Museum displays are more than simply text on a wall; they include objects, archive pictures, and entertaining displays.

In addition, the museum offers a variety of activities and events.

Every last Wednesday of the month, barring November and December, a lecture series features a new speaker on the stage.

A Historic Red Lodge Walking Tour is also offered for those who prefer a more immersive experience.

Head to Red Lodge Cafe & Lounge to Relax After Your Tour

Red Lodge is home to many good cafes.

Thanks to its brilliant neon sign, Red Lodge Cafe has been welcoming visitors and residents alike for decades.

The Burton Cafe was the original name of the Red Lodge Cafe when it debuted in 1930.

The current structure replaces two smaller saloons that formerly occupied this property.

Exterior of Red Lodge Cafe

Acroterion, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Red Lodge to Cooke City Highway was still being developed when the café was erected, even though the coal mines had primarily shut down and the West Side Mine had closed in 1932.

Margaret Buening renamed The Red Lodge Cafe in 1945 after she purchased it from the Burton Cafe in 1930.

All-day breakfast, burgers, lunch classics, and wraps, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, may be found here.

Catch a Performance at Roosevelt Center

The arts have always played an essential role in our community, from the first folk dance and song organizations to the contemporary Red Lodge School of Dance and the Carbon County Arts Guild, to name just a few examples.

Red Lodge’s artistic legacy is bolstered by the current generation of artists living and working here.

Many in the Red Lodge community have hoped for a performing arts center for a long time.

As a result of a community’s demand for a community arts facility, the Roosevelt Center was born out of that desire.

The Roosevelt Center in Red Lodge, Montana, is a multi-purpose facility.

Your conference, show, or art exhibit will be a hit at the center.

It is possible to host up to 300 guests at our facility, including many facilities.

As a business hub, the building provides low-cost office space for startups.

The center also hosts art exhibits as a satellite gallery for the Carbon County Arts Guild.

Experience Sugar Rush at Montana Candy Emporium

The Montana Candy Emporium on Broadway Street is a treat for sweet tooths.

The enormous marquee displaying the newest sweets makes it simple to find this candy business.

The Montana Candy Emporium has been a must-see attraction for Red Lodge vacationers for more than two generations because of its lengthy existence there.

Antiques and memorabilia adorn its interior, giving it the feel of an out-of-time rural store.

Aside from that, the shelves are stocked with every kind of confectionery imaginable.

Be prepared to leave the store with a large bag of sweets, whether it’s Walnettos, taffy, fudge, jellybeans, or jawbreakers.

Teach Your Kids How to Ski at Red Lodge Nordic Center

This Nordic center is located on Aspen Ridge Ranch, just outside of Red Lodge, near the foothills of the Beartooth Mountain range, about three miles away.

Aspen trees and broad meadows make up 15 kilometers of machine-groomed paths, which may be used from December to March.

It has four kilometers of ease, seven kilometers of moderate difficulty, and four kilometers of the most extreme difficulty level.

For a day of skiing, picnicking, and photographing with the whole family, this is the place.

Throughout the winter season, children’s activities and ski clinics are available.

Learn to skate ski or go as quickly as your athleticism permits on the prepared tracks for traditional skiing and the skate lanes. There is a cost for using the trails, which are maintained regularly.

Beacon Recreational Trails Association, a non-profit, operates Red Lodge Nordic Center.

Watch Movies or Performances at the Roman Theater

In 1917, the renowned Roman Theater opened and started exhibiting motion pictures.

It is Montana’s oldest continuously operating movie and live entertainment theater and a fantastic location for any event, fundraising, or live production.

The theater is perfect for performances, plays, musicals, presentations, movies, weddings, and other events since it has cutting-edge projection technology and a Dolby sound system.

It is possible to rent movies for private and formal occasions.

Although it still mainly displays movies, it also accommodates a variety of musical performances and charity activities.

Pay a Visit to Babcock & Miles

Several other companies have occupied the historic structure that now houses Babcock & Miles over the past.

Babcock & Miles honors the community’s Old West heritage.

Blanche Weber, the former madam, is honored by having her name on their special coffee blend.

They offer a wide range of high-quality cooking and baking products, from basic grocery items to festive accents.

Salts, salt flakes, different kinds of sugar, fondant topping, instant espresso, and other items are available.

They also have a wide range of beer varieties, from the most well-known beers worldwide to regional cider brews like Flathead Cherry from Last Chance Cider Mill.

Cutlery, corkscrews, mats, baskets, snacks, and wines are available at Babcock & Miles!

Appreciate Art at Beartooth Gallery of Fine Art

The Beartooth Gallery of Fine Art is created on friendship and beauty; thus, it has a peaceful atmosphere.

It’s undeniable that Robert Streitmatter, with his company partners, Steve Galloway and Robin Stoner, value art.

Their fascination with Hardin/Billings painter Harry Koyama’s emotionally charged works catalyzed them to create the gallery.

Koyama assisted in luring more artists to the gallery, eventually forming painters, sculptors, artists, potters, and more.

On Red Lodge’s main street, within the same street as the Roman Theater, is the Beartooth Gallery of Fine Art, housed in a cheery yellow-painted structure.

Various art collections are shown inside the several rooms, organized by theme and style.

Most of the gallery’s artists have year-round residences in Montana or own vacation homes therein.

Shop or Buy a Gift at Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop

Sylvan Peak’s Mountain Shop intends to provide you with high-quality equipment and welcoming service for your forthcoming activities in or near Red Lodge and the Absaroka Beartooth Mountains.

The Sylvan Peak Gear Stash Subscription is a wonderful ongoing present!

The Gear Stash subscriber is given an outside package of goods every month, specially designed to fit their passions and interests.

Every month’s new gear stashes are available for pick-up or shipping on the first.

They also have some pre-made ones that are excellent for anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

They make wonderful presents for any event or special occasion.

Sample Beers at Red Lodge Ales Brewing Company

Beer has a lengthy history in Red Lodge, Montana.

Red Lodge Brewing Company produced great regional beer before Prohibition.

Sam Hoffmann established Red Lodge Ales Brewing Company in central Red Lodge several years ago.

Red Lodge Ales makes high-quality beer by utilizing soft, glacial water, heating it with a solar thermal system, infusing malted barley from Montana, and gently cooling it with the air from the Beartooth Mountains.

Employing ripe, hand-picked fruit is the secret to making wonderful cider, and they have a huge cooler filled with it.

They believe their apples are among the greatest globally, and they obtain them from Montana, Michigan, and Oregon.

They press the apples on Wednesdays between October and March, so stop by and see how it’s done.

Final Thoughts

Red Lodge, Montana, is a great starting point for seeing some of the area’s smaller, more charming villages.

Regardless of the season, you’ll find something to enjoy here.

Explore this quaint town with our list of the best things to do in Red Lodge, Montana, and you’re in for a treat!

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