Red Lodge Road Trip–Are we there, yet?

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By User:Velela - Own work, Public Domain, makes me want to hit the road, and one of my favorite things to do is explore Montana. Red Lodge is just a few hours from Bozeman, so it makes a perfect overnight getaway.

Day 1: Hike and Main Street


Take the scenic drive to Red Lodge, arriving midday.


It can be hard to choose a place to hike since there are so many great trails just outside of town. A few miles from Red Lodge, along the banks of the West Fork of Rock Creek, is the Silver Run Ski Trail system. These trails are pretty flat, scenic and can be linked together to create whatever length outing your family is up for.

(From Red Lodge drive south and turn right on West Fork Road. Stay straight at 2.8 miles. Drive another 1.6 miles to Silver Run Road and turn left. Drive across the bridge and park.)


Stroll down Broadway and—if you have older kids—pop into the Red Lodge Clay Center to check out the newest exhibition. Kids of all ages will enjoy Magpie Toymakers where you’ll find toys powered by imagination—not batteries. Dont forget a stop at Montana Candy Emporium, an old-fashioned candy shop.

Download a self-guided historic walking tour map and discover Red Lodge’s heritage while you walk.

We often take scooters with us to explore small towns. They are easy to pack, fun for kids, and not as intrusive as a bike. The best folding scooter let’s kids burn off some energy during travel.


End the day with dinner at the kid-friendly Red Lodge Pizza Company.

Day 2: Mine and Native Animals,_Montana#/media/File:SmithMineDisaster.jpg

Mine the past

Follow Hwy 308 east. Just a few miles from town you’ll see the coalmines of Washoe and Bearcreek. Markers offer geologic and historic details, including the story of the Smith Mine Disaster of 1942.

Go Wild at the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary

Visit native animals at the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary, a refuge for animals that cannot be released into the wild. Meet bobcats, coyotes, bald eagles, mountain lions and other wild critters.

The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary (formerly Beartooth Nature Center) takes animals that cannot be released into the wild and gives them a home below the Beartooth Mountains on the outskirts of Red Lodge.

Most of the animals come from Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks. Some were confiscated when people illegally kept them as pets; others were found when their mothers were shot or otherwise orphaned. Some were just donated from private ranches when they no longer wanted them or couldn’t keep them.

The nature center is good for the animals and a nice educational experience. The animals are interesting to watch and the gardens are beautifully abloom with native flowers.

Red Lodge Trip Planning

Find out about lodging, camping, rafting, horseback riding and a million other things to do in Red Lodge at

We like to stay at the historic and charming Pollard Hotel. Find the best deals and availability on all Red Lodge Hotels here.

From Montana Parent, Summer 2009 and updated in 2019.

Other Red Lodge Posts

(Mostly) camping in Red Lodge

Red Lodge Road Trip–Are we there, yet? from Montana Parent magazine

Hike the Silver Run Ski Trails Near Red Lodge, Montana

Hike South Fork Grove Creek Near Red Lodge, Montana

Hike to Island and Night Lakes in the Beartooths

Drive the Beartooth Scenic Highway from Red Lodge to Cooke City

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3 thoughts on “Red Lodge Road Trip–Are we there, yet?”

  1. Pingback: Mother's Day at Pine Creek Lodge and Yellowstone - TravelingMel

  2. Hello, I am turning 40 toward the end of August and My friend and I are looking to travel to MT. We would like to go Horseback Riding, Fishing and Maybe see wild Horses. Are there any tips you may have for us…I have been looking at Red Lodge, however would Billings be the best place to fly in and get a car to Red Lodge? Or maybe you can tell me something totally different. This will be the first time flying and traveling out west for both of us. THANK YOU

    1. Happy Birthday!
      Red Lodge is a good base camp for all those things. You can fly into Billings and rent a car, as you said. You can take a day trip to see the Pryor wild horses (I wrote about visiting wild horses here: and here:, you can drive over the scenic Beartooth Pass and into Yellowstone. (Beartooth Pass info: Stop near the top of the pass for a short hike to Island and Night Lakes – you will be on top of the Beartooth Plateau, which is awe striking. In Silver Gate, stop at the Log Cabin Cafe for trout and their amazing pumpkin bread.
      As for horseback riding, I’d have to so a little research, but I can pretty much guarantee that there is more than one outfitter in Red Lodge that can take you riding.
      Plus, there is hiking and other fun stuff to do right in (or just outside) Red Lodge. You could go fly fishing on Rock Creek, the Stillwater River, or lakes on the Beartooth Plateau, white water rafting on the Stillwater River in nearby Absarokee…
      Red Lodge is a really cute town — it’s small, but it has a lot of personality!
      Hope that helps!
      – Mel

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