Progress Through History At Yellowstone County Museum

Will Beck
Last Updated: March 4th, 2023

Travel Back In Time At The Yellowstone County Museum

The Yellowstone County Museum was formed in 1953. A partnership between the City of Billings, the Yellowstone Historical Society, and others made it possible. The mission was to preserve and share the history of life in the Yellowstone River basin.

Three years after its formation, steps were taken to open the center’s doors to the public. Since 1956, the Yellowstone County Museum has strived to disseminate knowledge about the area through exhibitions and educational workshops.

General Information

general information
Image: ycmhistory

Where Is The Yellowstone County Museum?

The County Museum is located at 1950 Terminal Circle, Billings Montana. Terminal circle as the name suggests is in the vicinity of the Billings-Logan International airport.

Its location makes it a convenient spot to visit, especially if you are flying in and out of town. As a result, it provides an excellent way to spend your final moments in Billings before your flight departs.

If you are driving to Billings, the exhibits lie a short 3-miles or a 10-minute ride from downtown.

What Are The Museum Operating Hours?

The Yellowstone County Museum is open from Monday to Saturday, 10:30 am to 5:30 pm. Doors only remain closed on Sundays, in January, and on major national holidays.

Is There An Entrance Fee?

No, entry into the Yellowstone County Museum is free for all visitors, giving you even more reason to visit.

When Did Yellowstone Art Museum Open?

The museum was formed in 1953 in a joint venture by community stakeholders. It is tasked with preserving the culture and history of the area. It was not until 1956 that the establishment opened its doors to the general public.

Ever since the Yellowstone County Museum has welcomed visitors year-round.

What Exhibits Are At The Yellowstone County Museum?

The County Museum houses an array of exhibitions that educate visitors about the history and culture of the Yellowstone basin. The star attraction is arguably the world’s most robust collection of objects related to the Ghost Dance.

The 1890s spiritual movement gave native Paiute people hope that their land and lifestyles would be returned by European settlers.

Aside from the impressive selection of Ghost Dance clothing and artifacts, the Museum displays Indian art and culture.

Historians looking to go back to Pre Montana times are in for a treat. A selection of bones, stones, and man-made tools are proudly displayed for visitors to enjoy.

Is There A Restaurant At Yellowstone Museum?

No, there is no restaurant at the Yellowstone County Museum. However, we have provided a list of restaurants below where you can book a table.

Where Can I Stay When Visiting The Museum?

Billings offers the option of hotels, vacation homes, campsites, and motels. Whether you are looking for luxury or are on a strict budget, you can make the trip work for you.

Travelers who appreciate luxuries, cleanliness, and a comfortable stay should look at rooms in the Northern Hotel, located downtown.

Although less luxurious than the Northern, the Best Western Plus Clock Tower and Home2 Suites By Hilton are comfortable lodging options.

Those who do not care for hotel living might appreciate the privacy of a vacation home. The best option in Billings is this Charming Montana House. Besides privacy, it is a more affordable option for larger groups.

What Other Activities Are To Do Near The Yellowstone Art Museum?

As educational and eye-opening as a visit to the Museum is, the reality is that it does not last long. Therefore, we have compiled a list of other activities you can undertake in Billings to make the most of your visit to the area.

Yellowstone Art Museum

yellowstone art museum
Image: Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Visitors who appreciate art and history should pencil in a stop at the Yellowstone Art Museum.

It features exhibitions from contemporary and historical artists from Montana. In addition, they house works by Robert DeNiro Senior, Herman Cherry, and Nell Blane.

For a detailed rundown on the art museum and its offerings, you can read our overview of the museum here.


Since the Yellowstone River flows past Billings, you can imagine that there is top-notch fishing to be had. Your assumptions would be correct, as the town acts as an optimal base to reach world-class fishing spots.

The Yellowstone River is your obvious choice, where lake, brook, and rainbow trout traverse the waters. Northern pike and smallmouth bass follow the trout, increasing your options and chances of hooking one.

If you are willing to drive an hour out of Billings, you can cast a line into the Bighorn River. Locals regularly report catches of substantially sized trout.

Should you prefer the calmer waters of a lake, the area is home to multiple reservoirs. West Rosebud Lake offers spectacular views of the Beartooth Mountains and presents trout fishing year-round. Alternatively, you can do a ¼ mile hike to reach Greenough lake.


If you plan on traveling to Billings in the summer, it makes sense to get out onto the Yellowstone River. You can do this by kayaking, rafting, or paddle boarding.

Do not worry about gear, as you can rent it from local businesses such as Sunshine Sports.


After exploring the exhibits at the County museum, you should give the numerous hiking trails a spin. Two Moon Park is highly recommended for all fitness levels as it meanders along the Yellowstone River. It offers views of the forest and a host of wildlife.

Visitors seeking a challenge might journey to Zimmerman Park. It is set up with a variety of routes suited to all hikers.

Ski Or Snowboard

Tourists who decide to make the journey during winter may opt to tie in a ski trip to Red Lodge Mountain Resort.

The town is not exactly in Billings and requires a one-hour drive before you can jump on the lifts and hit the slopes. However, a day trip is not unthinkable.

Where Can I Eat In Billings, Montana?

Juliano’s is a non-negotiable on your trip to Billings. The restaurant offers a fusion of Asian-American cuisine and is located in a renovated stable built-in 1902.

Maybe adventurous fusion food is not for your palate. No problem, Billings also offers quality American classics such as burgers and pizza. The Fieldhouse calls itself a new American kitchen, recreating classics with a modern twist.

However, if you wish to tuck into a juicy steak Jake’s Downtown is an institution that has operated since 1979.

Vegans won’t feel left out. The town has evolved with the times to cater to alternative dietary requirements. The lemongrass Thai restaurant is your best choice for a non-carnivorous meal.

Where Can I Drink In Billings, Montana?

Billings offers several establishments to quench your thirst. Whether you are a wine connoisseur, a beer aficionado, or a sucker for cocktails. Billings has it all. Those with a palate for fermented grape juice will appreciate a visit to Yellowstone Cellars.

Travelers who prefer sucking on a cold beer are advised to check in at Canyon Creek or the Montana Brewing Company. Both outfits offer a handsome selection of seasonal beers and a varied menu with traditional bar snacks.

Cocktail lovers have a couple of institutions at your disposal. However, Doc Harper’s is the clear winner, thanks to their crafty Martini and modern cocktails.

Billings is not only for the boozehounds. Locals also know how to brew a formidable cup of buzz. Legacy Coffee Roasters and Black Dog Coffee House are our top picks.

When Is The Best Time To Yellowstone County Museum?

best time to visit yellowstone county museum
Image: ycmhistory

Summer is the best time to visit the exhibits if you wish to enjoy everything Billings and the surrounding areas have on offer.

Fishing, kayaking, and hiking are spring and summer sports that you can tie in with a trip to Yellowstone County.

Conversely, tourists who love the snow may prefer to break up their trip. Spend one day in Billings visiting museums and the next at Red Mountain Resort on the slopes.


The Yellowstone County Museum is a must-visit for history buffs and travelers passionate about Montana and Native American culture.

The center houses an impressive selection of Native Indian artifacts and art, which tells a story of life in the Yellowstone River basin from days gone by.

Besides the educational exhibitions in the museum, the town of Billings offers a healthy selection of restaurants, breweries, cocktail bars, and outdoor activities. I suggest planning your trip in summer to enjoy exceptional hiking, fishing, or kayaking.

However, if you insist on journeying North in winter, you can always tie in your trip to the museum with a ski or snow vacation. The nearest slopers are at Red Mountain Resort.

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About The Author

Will Beck

Will is a true digital nomad, taking his work on the road at every opportunity. His first love is coffee, with travel a close 2nd. He loves nothing more than hitting the road in his self-build campervan and visiting off-the-beaten-path places, away from popular tourist destinations.

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