Located in Billings, Pictograph Cave State Park is an excellent place to explore and enjoy the scenic nature The Treasure State has to offer. Home to unique caves with over 100 pictographs, the park is a popular place to visit for many tourists.
The caves at the park were once home to prehistoric hunters who left a history of rock art that tells a story. Well preserved and teeming with history, over 30,000 artifacts including weapons and stone tools were excavated from the caves.
The park is not only fascinating to explore, but also easy to access. Getting to the caves requires only a short 3/4 loop trail to the caves, making it an easy trek for almost anyone.
Additionally, the caves include interpretive displays throughout the route with information about the features, paintings, and environment.
With an interesting and long history here, the Pictograph Cave State Park is a great educational and fun opportunity for visitors.
Pictograph Cave State Park Facts
- The park is 23 acres in size and 3,500 feet in elevation.
- The park is open all seasons
- Hours in the summer are 9 am to 7 pm, with these hours starting the third Friday in May and ending the third Sunday in September
- The park is open outside of summer Wednesday – Sunday 9 am to 5 pm, with these hours starting the third Monday in September and ending the third Thursday in May
- There is no overnight camping allowed at the park
Pictograph Cave State Park has three caves, Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost Cave. Each cave was formed by erosion and each has a different history, making it an interesting place to visit.
Middle Cave can be seen within the park, but it is unfortunately not accessible to the public, and the archeological expedition done there found that it was unlikely anyone inhibited that cave.
Ghost Cave does not have any pictographs, but people did live in this cave, as an archeological excavation found beads, bones, and bows there. It is believed that the cave also has people living in it as recent as 200 to 500 years ago.
It appears to have been used as a workspace where hunters sharpened tools such as stone points and shafting arrows. Why the cave is called “Ghost Cave” is unknown, but there are those who believe that ghosts haunt the cave.
The most popular of the three caves is Pictograph. This cave is the largest of the three, being about 160 feet wide and 45 feet deep.
This cave also features several pictographs, telling the story of the people who once lived here. There are several different painted symbols, including seven pictographs of birds. Some of the pictographs are quite faded.
For this reason, it is recommended to bring binoculars so you can get a better view of the pictographs within the caves.
The main attraction at the parks is the Pictograph State Park, with other activities here being limited. However, visitors can also pack a lunch to eat at one of the many picnic tables or visit the gift shop if they wish to do something besides visiting the caves.
The picnic area is located near the entrance of the park and is near the beginning of the trail loop that takes you to the caves. It is a shaded area under a tree and is available for day use only. It’s a great place to stop for lunch before or after you visit the caves at the park.
The gift shop is near the parking lots for the park. The gift shop is small and offers t-shirts, mugs, and other items. The gift shop does not sell food or drink, so plan on packing snacks or a lunch if you plan on eating well at the park. The store attendant is also usually happy to answer any question about the park or its history.
The cave has on main trail route that is a short 3/4 loop trail to the caves. The trail is paved and starts at the visitor center, leading you to the Pictograph Cave.
You’ll need to backtrack a bit to the gravel trail that takes you to the other caves. Ghost Cave is about 1/4 a mile away and is not paved like the trail to Pictograph, however, the hike is not too difficult. Generally, visitors also spend an hour at the park.
The elevation change for both hikes is about 125 feet. Overall, the hikes to both caves are quite short and should not be too difficult of a trek.
However, if you are worried about the Ghost Cave hike being too difficult as it is a gravel trail, you can always still visit Pictograph as it is paved and considered accessible. This cave is more popular anyway and has the famous pictographs most visitors came here to see.
Regardless of which caves you choose to see, you’ll be sure to have an interesting and educational trip as all caves have a fascinating history.