Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Yellowstone County, MT

  • Published 2022/10/21

Yellowstone County offers a host of stunning landscapes and scenic locations in the southern portion of Montana.

The county is the most populated county in the state, with more than 160,000 residents in the 2020 census.

Billings, the largest city in the state, is the county seat of Yellowstone County.

It also covers the city of Laurel, the town of Broadview, and several census-designated areas that include Acton, Ballantine, Custer, Huntley, Lockwood, Mountain View Colony, Nibbe, Pompeys Pillar, Shepherd, and Worden.

Yellowstone was named after the Yellowstone River, which got its name from the yellow sandstone cliffs in the area.

Outdoor adventures, historic tours, fascinating museums, exciting nature sites, and kid-friendly attractions are just some of the things you can enjoy in the county.

What are you waiting for?

Try the best things to do in Yellowstone, Montana.

See Ancient Rock Arts and Artifacts at Pictograph Cave State Park

Daytime view of Pictograph Cave State Park

JWCohen /

Pictograph Cave State Park was listed in the National Historic Landmark in 1964 because of its essential archeological features.

Guests can see the sites and stop by the Visitor Center on Coburn Road, Billings.

The 23-acre park has three main caves: the Pictograph, the Middle, and Ghost Cave.

Over time, these caves made of eagle sandstone were sculpted by water and wind and used by prehistoric hunters to set camp.

The Pictograph Cave, the deepest of the caves at approximately 45 feet, features over a hundred rock arts that were first discovered in 1936.

Tourists admiring Pictograph Cave State Park

JWCohen /

You can view some of these rock arts, the oldest being around 2,000 years old.

You’ll also see the exhibits of over 30,000 ancient artifacts ranging from stone tools, weapons, and painting instruments excavated from the site.

Trek the loop trails to the caves, stop by the interpretative displays as you go along, and learn more about the park’s prehistoric paintings and natural features.

Likewise, you can go bird watching or have a relaxing picnic at Pictograph Cave State Park’s facilities.

Rock formations in a cave at Pictograph Cave State Park

Jacob Boomsma /

Relive the Past at Yellowstone County Museum

History buffs would love the Yellowstone County Museum.

Situated on Terminal Circle in Billings, the museum offers free admission and welcomes visitors from Tuesdays to Saturdays.

For some exciting pictograph artform on modern subjects, view Darryl GrowingThunder’s Ledger Art exhibit; you can even purchase his artworks.

Discover the story and bravery of Joe Medicine Crow in his exploits during the Second World War.

Browse the 1890 Ghost Dance exhibit and find various objects depicting the Native American religious movement.

Check out Montana’s prehistoric era with ancient stone tools and archeology site replicas.

Other exciting exhibits you can view here include the Firearms Museum, with displays of Winchester Rifle models, the Coulson City Saloon area, the Sidesaddle History and Development exhibit, and McCormick Cabin.

Outside the Yellowstone County Museum, you’ll also find the Old 1901 Steam Engine Train built by the American Locomotive Company.

Meet the Unique Animals at ZooMontana

A lynx at ZooMontana

Ammonite18 /

ZooMontana is a zoological and botanical garden, certified arboretum, and educational facility just off Interstate 90, west of Billings.

The 70-acre zoo facility campaigns for wildlife conservation and houses over 80 animals with 56 different species.

You’ll encounter several animals like alpacas, meet Uki the American badger, Sofi and Jasmin the Amur tigers, and drop by Cheech the Cane Toad’s habitat.

A bison at ZooMontana

Ammonite18 /

Enjoy the sight of colorful koi at the Pond and get fascinated by the breeding colony of the Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

Check out fun items at the Gift Shop, like plush animals, key chains, postcards, and exclusive Montana souvenirs to remind you of your visit.

After doing so, visit the gardens starting from the Flag Garden, which features varieties of Heuchera and creeping thyme, then head off to Chris’s Garden and the Millennium Grove, Iris Garden, and Bamboo Garden.

See the rare colorful, and fragrant annuals and perennials at the Homestead Garden, and walk along the Sensory Garden with towering mature trees, lush greens, and flower beds.

A tiger at ZooMontana

Montanabw, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can stroll along Dottie’s Garden with rows of Russian sage and brightly colored yarrow.

Kids will also enjoy the Children’s Area with large metal animal sculptures adorned with seasonal mums and colored annuals.

You’ll also enjoy a picnic at ZooMontana’s Yellowstone Arboretum, with plenty of shade over the tables.

A bear at ZooMontana

Montanabw, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bring the Kids to Wise Wonders Science and Discovery Museum

Your little ones will enjoy learning at Wise Wonders Science and Discovery Museum.

You’ll find this interactive kiddie museum at 2nd Avenue North in Billings.

The museum highlights STEM learning for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Kids of all ages will enjoy the exhibits, programs, and events designed to promote creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills and stir their imagination.

You can book Summer Camps and Fall Program themes like Homeschool Science and Lego Robotics for young and older kids.

You can also book Birthday Parties and Field Trips at Wise Wonders Science and Discovery Museum if you want a unique celebration and experience.

Discover the Historic Items at Moss Mansion Museum

Front view of Moss Mansion Museum's exterior

Teresa Otto /

Moss Mansion Museum, located on Division Street, Billings, offers daily tours of the Moss residence and surrounding historic neighborhood.

The businessman Preston Boyd Moss built the house in 1903 with designs from prominent New York architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh.

It greatly influenced the Billings community through its remarkable architectural design, unique craftsmanship, and elaborate décor.

The mansion was included in the National Register of Historic Places and was used as a location for period films Return to Lonesome Dove and Son of the Morning Star.

Facade of Moss Mansion Museum

Burley Packwood, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Marvel at the classic architecture and the antique amenities inside the grand home representing the life and culture during the early days in Billings.

You’ll also learn about the family’s life with various letters and archives on display.

Aside from the museum, take a street tour of other private homes in the area to appreciate different classic architectural designs.

Before you leave, drop by the Moss Mansion Museum’s Gift Shop to find souvenirs and gift items like books, toys, jewelry, and more.

Sample Great Wines at Yellowstone Cellars

Yellowstone Cellars at Holiday Circle, Billings, is owned by winemaker couple Brandon and Sarah Skarsten.

They specialize in handcrafted French and Italian red and white wines and have been in the business since 2010.

All their grapes are sourced from their family-owned vineyards in Yakima Valley, Washington.

You can drop by their Tasting Room and sample any or all of their wine releases.

Some of their collections include the 2021 Chenin Blanc, the 2021 Rose’, the 2017 Red Blend, and the 2018 Block Cabernet Sauvignon.

You can also enjoy free live music on a Friday or Saturday night while savoring your wine and food servings.

They have assorted flatbreads like supreme, sausage herbs and cheese, chicken and artichoke hearts, and pizza like pepperoni, veggie on cauliflower, and chicken bacon ranch.

Yellowstone Cellars also has soft pretzels, French brie trays, and charcuterie boards on the menu.

Appreciate the Arts at Yellowstone Art Museum

Exterior of Yellowstone Art Museum

Sara goth, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Art enthusiasts will have a worthwhile experience at Yellowstone Art Museum.

Located at North 27th Street, Billings, you can observe and appreciate various masterpieces by artists-in-residence, young artists, and featured artists at this museum.

See the Young Artists Gallery, showing the creative works of young students in the community.

They have children’s classes called Studio 2nd Saturday, which include tours to the galleries and creating their artworks in connection with the current exhibits.

Bond with your family on a first Friday night with FAM at the YAM and create art together under the instruction of a professional artist.

They also offer YAM teens and YAM adult art classes for those who want to hone their artistic skills.

The Yellowstone Art Museum also offers Cooking Classes at Raven’s Café d’Art; otherwise, you can enjoy a meal of delectable salads, sandwiches, and vegetarian fare.

Enjoy a Relaxing Time at Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park at South Billings Boulevard is a beautiful park offering vast natural areas and a trail system.

It is also the largest river park in Billings, overlooking Lake Josephine and Cochran Pond.

One way to enjoy the park is to bring some lunch and have a family outing at the three picnic shelters.

You can have a leisurely walk or enjoy a bike ride along the seven-mile trails to explore the Yellowstone River.

The park has copious foliage and is a great place to see some wildlife.

Other amenities offered by Riverfront Park for public use include volleyball courts, toilets, and picnic sites with barbecue grills.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Lake Elmo State Park

The waters of Lake Elmo State Park

Sara goth, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lake Elmo State Park is a 64-acre reservoir within Billings’ city limits and offers plenty of outdoor opportunities.

This popular urban park spans 123 acres where you can stroll, watch the birds or unwind for a picnic.

View the surrounding area by hiking the 1.4-mile nature trail and spot some wildlife along the way.

You can enjoy water activities on the lake, like swimming, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, boating, or fishing at Roger’s Pier.

Little ones can run around and have fun in the play area.

The park also has a 200-square-foot Dog Park area on the lake’s western portion.

The area is fenced and has a water area, so your dogs can enjoy the park; you can also bring two dogs into the site, and they need to be four months and older.

Visit Lake Elmo State Park and have some outdoor fun!

Tour Historic Sites at the Huntley Project Museum

Huntley Project Museum tells the tale of the Huntley Irrigation Project’s unique history.

This ten-acre attraction lies on Railroad Highway in Huntley and presents 18 homesteads, hundreds of antique farming tools, and displayed artifacts.

You’ll also see well-preserved items that reflect the area’s history from the prehistoric period until the present.

Go back in time and view the original Huntley Project buildings like the Osborn School House.

The Huntley Irrigation Project consisted of small towns, but extreme drought forced many to abandon the area in 1910.

The canal behind the museum is the same canal that watered the crops during the days; it still serves the same function today.

Aside from the tours and programs, you can also catch happenings like concerts, car shows, and Civil War Live Events at the Huntley Project Museum grounds.

Learn the Region’s History at Western Heritage Center

Exterior of Western Heritage Center

ALH, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Western Heritage Center features the history, culture, and heritage of south-central Montana, the Northern Plains, and the Yellowstone River Valley.

Situated in historic downtown Billings, the museum is inside the Parmly Billings Memorial Library building, also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

See an exhibit that tells the tales of how the community overcame past epidemics.

You’ll see a 1920s X-Ray machine, an antique iron lung, and rare items from SCL St. Vincent Healthcare Archive.

View the Museum’s Clothing Collection of vintage apparel and fashion pieces, from military uniforms to wedding attire.

Catch the Ralston Unfinished exhibit, which features the unfinished work of artist J.K. Ralston, along with his numerous vibrant and detailed works not available to the public.

Browse the Parading Through History: the Apsaalooke Nation traveling exhibit, which features an extensive collection highlighting the Apsaalooke nation and Crow tribe.

You’ll find many remarkable items in the Native American Collection, the Regional Western Art Collection, Yellowstone Valley Memorabilia, and many more.

The Western Heritage Center will widen your interest in the region’s history.

Grab Tasty Snacks at the Yogurt Shop

The Yogurt Shop on West Main Street, Laurel, Montana, is the perfect stop for healthier snack options.

The restaurant welcomes you with a colorful and vibrant setup and a range of soft-serve yogurt, sorbet, and ice cream flavors.

Try their low-fat salted caramel corn or cake batter flavor or their non-fat and non-dairy watermelon or pomegranate raspberry watermelon smoothie.

Enjoy creating and mixing your salad with their full salad bar and your choice of a single serving, all-you-can-eat, or to-go offerings.

Order a bowl of hearty homemade soup on the menu with a variety every week.

They also offer Build-Your-Own-Wraps, where you can choose from your tortilla shell, sauces, and ingredients.

If you’re looking for something loaded on flavor and serving, you can try the loaded baked potato, nachos, and hotdogs.

Have a filling snack at The Yogurt Shop!

Go Trekking at Four Dances Trailhead

Scenic view of Four Dances Trailhead


Four Dances Trailhead sits on a plateau about two miles east of downtown Billings and is bounded by Coburn Road on the east.

You’ll find a vast area of native grasslands, cottonwood riparian, and lines of ponderosa pine on rocky outcrops near the buffs.

You and your family can trek the wide and well-maintained trails, which lead to mesmerizing views of Billings.

You’ll also find the historic sandstone cliff writings of Yegen Bros with a remnant of his clothing and shoe store from the 1900s.

Nature trail of Four Dances Trailhead


The vast area is perfect for wildlife watching and spotting elk, deer, bears, foxes, and moose.

Try some nature photography with stunning views of the Yellowstone River, scenic bluffs, and open grasslands.

Four Dances Trailhead is also great for birding since falcons usually nest at the cliffs, and waterfowl are abundant at the riverbanks.

Walk the Scenic Trails at Two Moon Park

Two Moon Park is another scenic park you can go to at Billings.

It was named after the Northern Cheyenne Chief, who bravely fought during the Battle of Little Bighorn on the borders of Yellowstone River and the forested bluff up north.

You can hike a stretch of loop trail around the park and meanders through different paths and trails.

When you reach the downstream area, you’ll find the Weeping Wall seeping with spring waters and various bird species perching on trees.

At the park’s upper entrance, you can take the paved Dutcher Trail that continues north to the Heights and towards Coulson Park.

Enjoy your scenic trek at Two Moon Park.

Hit the Jackpot at Montana Nugget Casino

Signage of Montana Nugget Casino along Helena's road

5of7, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Montana Nugget Casino is one of the many casinos that initially operated in Montana.

It started in Euclid Avenue, Helena, and has locations in Billings and Kalispell.

The place features a rustic atmosphere decorated with cedar walls and trophy mounts.

Try your luck on the gaming floor with over 20 multi-game stations from poker, keno, reel, and line games.

You’ll also enjoy casual full-service dining at the bar & grill with daily servings of breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Grab shrimp and turkey dinner servings on Thursday night specials and a range of Mexican and barbecue meals on the menu.

You can also order assorted beverages and brews at the full-service bar.

For entertainment and good food, head to Montana Nugget Casino.

Final Thoughts

Yellowstone County’s location offers plenty of nature, and outdoor locations visitors can enjoy.

The county is also filled with historical attractions, appealing museums, and amusing parks and entertainment venues.

You’ll never run out of things to enjoy with the family and places to unwind and relax here.

Set your itinerary and try the best things to do in Yellowstone County, Montana.

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