Outdoor recreational activities are particularly popular in the Billings area as evidenced by equipment superstores Cabela’s and Scheels All Sport, along with smaller specialty outdoor shops. The area’s parks offer trails for hiking and mountain biking. Two Moon and Riverfront parks include trails along the Yellowstone River. Phipps, Swords, and Zimmerman parks offer hiking and biking trails that require a little more effort. Six golf courses are available for duffers who like to hit the links.
Montana is well-known as a fishing destination and the state attracts many visitors who wish to do little else. Numerous lakes, rivers, creeks and reservoirs offer accessible fishing sites that make the state an angler’s heaven. Most of these same bodies of water offer opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and rafting. In some cases, especially river rafting, a guide is recommended.
For a true western experience consider a guided horseback ride. Bitter Creek Outfitters (www.bittercreekoutfitters.com) and Western Romance Company (www.westernromancecompany.com) each offers horses and guides for wilderness trail rides..
During winter months, ice skating and cross-country skiing are popular in this part of the state. For downhill skiing, try the Red Lodge area (www.redlodgemountain.com) 60 miles south from Billings.
IF YOU GO:
Getting There: Flights leave Valdosta at 5:45 a.m. with connections in Atlanta and Minneapolis to arrive in Billings at 12:36 p.m. (the flight west gains two hours). A later 10:40 a.m. flight arrives at 6:30 p.m. Return flights leave Billings at 6:20 a.m. and arrive in Valdosta at 5:27 p.m. Ticket prices are constantly changing but expect about $525 with Tuesday departures typically being least expensive. Departures on other days can result in ticket price increase of as much as $500.
Accommodations: Most major hotel chains are represented in the Billings area. We stayed at BootHill Inn & Suites near the airport; (866) 266-8445; www.boothillinn.com. A 289-room downtown Crowne Plaza was renovated in 2008; (877) 227-6963; www.ichotelsgroup.com Both offer a complimentary airport shuttle.
Dining: Several excellent dining establishments are in the area. Stella’s Kitchen & Bakery in downtown Billing offers fresh squeezed orange juice, mammoth cinnamon rolls, and pancakes that lap over the edges of a large plate. Plan on little for lunch if you visit for breakfast. Walkers American Grill and Tapas Bar is a good choice for evening dinning.
Additional Information: Billings Visitor Information Center, (800) 735-2635; www.visitbillings.com. Montana Office of Tourism, www.visitmt.com
David and Kay Scott reside in Valdosta, Georgia, and are authors of Complete Guide to the National Park Lodges (Globe Pequot).