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Best Things to Do in Red Lodge (With a Small-Town Twist)

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: April 19th, 2024

Nestled at the foot of the breathtaking Beartooth Mountains lies Red Lodge, Montana – a slice of authentic Western charm with endless outdoor adventures and a whole lot of heart. 

Whether you crave adrenaline-pumping hikes, cozy breweries after a long day on the slopes, or some quality family time surrounded by nature, Red Lodge has something to offer everyone. Forget the jostling crowds of the typical landmarks and tourist attractions, and explore this gem of a town.

Uncover the Best of Red Lodge

Take on the Beartooth Highway: America’s Most Scenic Drive

scenic mountain view on beartooth highway

This isn’t just any road trip, folks – it’s a journey through a living landscape of jaw-dropping beauty. Picture this: the Beartooth Highway unfolds before you like a ribbon winding through a vast mountain tapestry. 

Each twist and turn reveals a new masterpiece of nature. Shimmering alpine lakes reflect the jagged peaks like mirrors. Snow-dusted summits seem to pierce the wide-open Montana sky. In peak summer, the meadows explode with vibrant bursts of yellow, purple, and crimson wildflowers.

Don’t think you have to just admire the scenery from the car, though! Plan plenty of stops at scenic overlooks or, better yet, detour onto one of the countless trails snaking off the highway. Breathe in that crisp mountain air and feel your spirit soar as you explore on foot. And keep a keen eye out –  playful marmots might scurry among the rocks and (with a bit of luck) you might even spot a majestic mountain goat perched on a rocky outcrop.

Hit the Slopes at Red Lodge Mountain

red lodge mountain

Ski bunnies and snowboarders, get ready to have your mountain dreams come true! Red Lodge Mountain delivers big on awesome terrain without the overwhelming crowds and headaches of those mega-resorts. Think of it as your own slice of wintery paradise. Whether you’re a seasoned skier looking to be challenged by double black diamond runs, or a family looking for gentle cruisers to practice those pizza and french-fry turns, Red Lodge has you covered.

Imagine carving fresh tracks down perfectly groomed slopes, a chorus of happy swooshing sounds all around you. Or maybe venturing into the glades for some tree skiing adventures – those powder days here are legendary! And the best part? You’ll spend more time enjoying those epic runs and less time shuffling in frustrating lift lines. 

Red Lodge understands that precious vacation time is meant for hitting the slopes, not standing around. Bonus: Après-ski options back in town are cozy and inviting, perfect for warming up with a hot toddy and reliving the day’s highlights.

Step Back in Time on Red Lodge’s Historic Main Street

red lodge

  • Location: The heart of Red Lodge
  • Price: Free to stroll, budget for shopping and dining
  • Best time: Year-round (especially fun during events like the Home of Champions Rodeo!)

Forget those cookie-cutter tourist towns – Red Lodge’s historic Main Street offers a genuine glimpse into the heart of Montana. Imagine strolling along weathered wooden sidewalks, lined with storefronts that whisper tales of the town’s vibrant past. It’s a place where the spirit of the American West still lingers.

Pop into charming boutiques overflowing with treasures handcrafted by local artisans – maybe you’ll find that perfect piece of turquoise jewelry or a cozy hand-knit sweater.  The Montana Candy Emporium is a must, a nostalgic wonderland of sweets that might just bring back childhood memories. 

As the sun sets, grab a seat at one of the lively bars where the tunes flow as freely as the local brews –  it’s the perfect way to soak up that down-home Red Lodge atmosphere.

Explore the Great Outdoors on Unforgettable Hikes

go for a hike

Red Lodge is a trailblazer’s paradise. From easy loops to strenuous climbs, there’s a hike for everyone. Here are a few crowd-pleasers:

  • Silver Run Ski Trails: Gentle trails with stunning mountain vistas, it’s also great for cross-country skiing in winter.
  • Lake Fork Trail: A moderate hike leading to a beautiful alpine lake.
  • Palisades Trail: At 7 miles (round trip), this trail is more challenging, but the jaw-dropping views from the top are worth the effort.

Cast a Line – Fly Fishing in Blue Ribbon Waters

fisherman flyfishing river montana

  • Location: Guided tours available, or explore designated fishing spots on your own.
  • Price: Guided trips vary, fishing licenses required
  • Best time: Spring through fall (check local regulations)

Anglers, you’re in for a treat. The waters around Red Lodge teem with trout. Hire a local guide to show you the best spots on the Stillwater or Yellowstone Rivers, or grab your gear and try your luck on Rock Creek.

Savor Red Lodge’s Culinary Delights

If tasting your way through Red Lodge is your thing, don’t let the town’s small size discourage you. Dig into hearty steaks, fresh local fare, and don’t miss the craft brews at Red Lodge Ales. For a unique experience, stop by Prerogative Kitchen for delicious meat & cheese plates and a fantastic wine selection.

Get a Taste of Yellowstone (Without the Crowds)

yellowstone wilderness outfitters

  • Location: About an hour’s drive to Yellowstone’s Northeast Entrance
  • Price: Yellowstone entrance fee
  • Best time: May-September (avoid peak July and August crowds if possible)

Red Lodge is the perfect base for exploring the quieter Northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Spot bison herds roaming Lamar Valley, marvel at geothermal wonders, and hike to stunning waterfalls — all within a scenic drive from town.

Insider Tips for Your Red Lodge Adventure

Get the most out of your Red Lodge experience with these helpful tips:

  • Embrace the unpredictable: Mountain weather can change quickly. Pack layers, sunscreen, and rain gear, no matter the forecast.
  • Pace yourself: Remember, you’re at higher elevation! Allow time to acclimate, especially if you’re coming from lower altitudes. Drink plenty of water.
  • Support Local: Red Lodge thrives on independent businesses. Shop from local artisans, dine at unique eateries, and get to know the friendly folks behind the scenes.
  • Be Wildlife Aware: This is bear country! Know safe practices for hiking and camping in bear territory. Always store food properly and keep your distance from any wildlife.
  • Plan Ahead: Weekend crowds, especially in summer, can fill up accommodations. Book your lodging well in advance and consider early starts to beat the rush at popular spots.

Conclusion

Red Lodge, Montana, might just be the best-kept secret in the West. With its breathtaking scenery, authentic Western vibe, and endless outdoor activities, it truly offers something for everyone. So, are you ready to answer the call of Big Sky Country and start planning your own Red Lodge adventure? Think of this town as your key to a vacation you’ll never forget – one filled with big mountain views and small-town charm.

About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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