10 Best Things to Do in Red Lodge, MT

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: June 28th, 2024

Come check out this mountain getaway that’s equal parts adventure and charm! In Montana is a hidden gem nestled in the breathtaking Beartooth Mountains; that’s Red Lodge. 

This guide is your key to unlocking the best of Red Lodge. It’s packed with insider tips and local favorites to help you plan the perfect trip. So, pack your hiking boots, grab your camera, and get ready to discover the magic of this mountain town!

Outdoor Adventures in Red Lodge

For those who crave the great outdoors, Red Lodge is a paradise. Here are some of the top-rated activities for nature lovers of all ages and abilities:

1. Red Lodge Mountain Resortred lodge montana

Red Lodge Mountain Resort is your one-stop shop for year-round mountain adventures. During the winter, the blanketed mountain comes alive with skiers and snowboarders of all levels hitting the slopes. The terrain ranges from gentle groomers to challenging chutes, with 65 trails on 1,600 acres.  

In the summer, the resort transforms into a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking trails wind through wildflower-filled meadows, leading to breathtaking vistas of the Beartooth Mountains. Mountain bikers can test their skills on downhill trails or explore scenic cross-country routes. Disc golf is also another popular summer sport. 

2. Beartooth Highway

absaroka-beartooth wilderness

Often called “the most beautiful roadway in America,” the Beartooth Highway is an unforgettable journey with stunning scenery. This 68-mile scenic byway winds through the Beartooth Mountains, climbing to an elevation of over 10,900 feet. 

The Beartooth Highway is a must-experience drive. Pull over at scenic overlooks, hike to hidden waterfalls, and keep your camera ready for the abundant wildlife that calls this area home.

3. Fly Fishing in Red Lodge

give fly-fishing a try

  • Location: Multiple rivers and streams around Red Lodge, including Rock Creek, Stillwater River, and the West Fork of Rock Creek.
  • Outfitters: Several guide services in town, including Montana’s Yellowstone Country and East Rosebud Fly and Tackle.
  • Best Time to Visit: June-September are the prime seasons, but fishing is possible year-round.
  • Cost: Guided trips typically start around $400 for a half-day. DIY options are more affordable, but require a fishing license.
  • Reservations: Highly recommended for guided trips, especially during peak season.
  • Gear: If you’re bringing your own gear, be sure to have waders, boots, a fly rod and reel, flies appropriate for the season, and other essentials like a net and fishing vest.
  • License: A Montana fishing license is required for all anglers aged 12 or older.

Fly fishing in Red Lodge is a truly immersive experience. Picture yourself wading through crystal-clear streams, casting your line against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks, and feeling the thrill as a trout takes the bait. 

Guided trips are a great way to learn the local waters and techniques. Meanwhile, experienced anglers might prefer the solitude of a DIY adventure. Keep in mind that conditions can vary, so it’s always a good idea to check with local experts for the latest information on water levels, hatches, and fly recommendations.

4. Yellowstone National Park

yellowstone regions

  • Location: The closest entrance from Red Lodge is the Northeast Entrance, located near Cooke City, MT.
  • Website:
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer (June-August) for the most accessible conditions, but each season offers unique experiences.
  • Cost: $35 entrance fee per vehicle, valid for seven days. Annual passes and other options are available.
  • Reservations: Highly recommended for lodging and camping, especially during peak season. Some activities may require reservations as well.
  • Duration: Plan for at least 2-3 days to experience the highlights, but you could easily spend a week exploring the park’s vast wilderness.
  • Getting There: From Red Lodge, take the Beartooth Highway (a scenic drive in itself!) to Cooke City, then enter the park through the Northeast Entrance.

Yellowstone National Park is an iconic American treasure, renowned for its geothermal wonders, diverse wildlife, and breathtaking landscapes. As you explore this vast wilderness, you’ll encounter bubbling mud pots, erupting geysers (including the famous Old Faithful), and colorful hot springs. Hike through lush forests and marvel at the dramatic canyon carved by the Yellowstone River. Also, look out for wildlife, such as bison, elk, wolves, and bears.

Yellowstone offers something for everyone, from casual sightseers to avid adventurers. Take a scenic drive around the Grand Loop Road, hike to hidden waterfalls, go for a boat ride on Yellowstone Lake, or embark on a multi-day backpacking trip. No matter how you choose to experience it, Yellowstone will leave you in awe of nature’s power and beauty.

5. Rock Climbing

rock climbing

  • Locations: The Beartooth Mountains offer numerous climbing areas, including The Ovens (great for beginners), Main Fork Rock Creek (more advanced), and Granite Peak (for experienced climbers).
  • Guide Services: Beartooth Mountain Guides offer instruction and guided climbs.
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer (June-September) is ideal, but some areas are accessible in shoulder seasons.
  • Cost: Guided climbs vary depending on duration and difficulty, but expect to pay $329+ per person. Gear rental is often included.
  • Reservations: Highly recommended for guided climbs, especially during peak season.
  • Gear: If climbing independently, ensure you have all necessary gear, including a helmet, harness, rope, carabiners, quickdraws, a belay device, and appropriate shoes.

The Beartooth Mountains surrounding Red Lodge are a rock climber’s paradise, with a diverse range of routes to challenge all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned climber seeking adrenaline-pumping multi-pitch routes or a novice eager to try your hand at this exhilarating sport, you’ll find the perfect challenge here.

For beginners, The Ovens, located just a short drive from Red Lodge, offers a variety of single-pitch sport routes on limestone fins. Main Fork Rock Creek is a popular spot for more experienced climbers, with its granite walls and diverse routes. And for the ultimate challenge, consider tackling Granite Peak, Montana’s highest mountain.

No matter your skill level, it’s always recommended to hire a guide, especially if you’re new to the area. They’ll ensure your safety, teach you proper techniques, and share their knowledge of the best routes.

6. Horseback Riding

horseback riding red lodge

  • Locations: Several ranches and outfitters near Red Lodge offer guided rides, including Elk River Outfitters.
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer (June-September) is the most popular time, but some outfitters offer rides in other seasons.
  • Cost: Varies depending on the duration and type of ride, but expect to pay $110-$175 per person for a 2-hour ride.
  • Reservations: Highly recommended, especially during peak season.
  • What to Wear: Long pants, closed-toe shoes, and a hat are essential. The weather can change quickly in the mountains., so it’s recommended to wear layers.

Experience the beauty of Red Lodge’s backcountry from the saddle of a horse. Several outfitters offer guided rides that cater to all levels, from beginners to experienced riders. Horseback riding offers a unique way to connect with nature and experience the rugged landscapes of Montana.

Elk River Outfitters is a popular choice, offering a variety of rides ranging from 1.5 hours to half-day adventures. Their experienced wranglers will guide you through stunning scenery and share their knowledge of the local flora and fauna. If you’re looking for a longer adventure, consider a multi-day pack trip into the Beartooth Mountains. These trips typically include camping, fishing, and plenty of time in the saddle.

No matter which outfitter you choose, be sure to inquire about weight limits and riding experience requirements before booking. And don’t forget to tip your wrangler – it’s customary in the West!

Exploring Red Lodge’s Culture and History

Red Lodge’s rich history as a mining town and gateway to Yellowstone is evident in its charming downtown and cultural attractions:

1. Carbon County Historical Society and Museum

carbon county
Image: Jon Roanhaus

Step back in time at the Carbon County Historical Society and Museum, a historical building called the Labor Temple. Explore exhibits that tell the story of Red Lodge’s coal mining heritage. The building was occupied by several different businesses until the 1980s.

Discover artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays that bring the past to life. Also, the museum hosts a number of events and educational programs throughout the year, making it a great place to learn and connect with the community.

2. Downtown Red Lodge

red lodge

  • Location: Broadway Avenue, the heart of Red Lodge.
  • Website:
  • Best Time to Visit: Any time of year, but summer offers extended hours and outdoor events.
  • Cost: Free to stroll and window shop; budget for shopping, dining, and entertainment.
  • Reservations: Recommended for popular restaurants, especially on weekends.

Step back in time as you stroll down Broadway Avenue, Red Lodge’s vibrant main street. The town’s well-preserved historic buildings tell tales of its mining past, while charming storefronts beckon you inside to discover unique treasures. 

As you explore downtown Red Lodge, keep an eye out for the town’s iconic landmarks, including the Carbon County Arts Guild and Depot Gallery, the Red Lodge Mountain Golf Course, and the historic Pollard Hotel. And don’t forget to snap a photo in front of the Red Lodge sign – it’s a classic souvenir!

3. Red Lodge Home of Champions Rodeo


  • Location: 101 Rodeo Rd, Red Lodge, MT 59068, United States
  • Website:
  • Best Time to Visit: July 2nd – 4th (annually)
  • Cost: Varies depending on seating and package options; check the website for details.
  • Reservations: Highly recommended, as this popular event often sells out.
  • Duration: Plan for an entire evening of rodeo action, plus time for the pre-rodeo parade and festivities.

Hold on to your hats, folks! The Red Lodge Home of Champions Rodeo ain’t your average rodeo. It’s a rip-roarin’, adrenaline-pumpin’ spectacle that’ll transport you straight back to the Wild West. For three days every July, the town of Red Lodge comes alive with the thunder of hooves, the cheers of the crowd, and the unmistakable scent of leather and dust.

This ain’t just any rodeo, either. The Home of Champions Rodeo is a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) event, meaning you’ll see some of the best cowboys and cowgirls in the world competing for top honors. Their skills in events like bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, and steer wrestling will leave you in awe.

4. Festivals and Events

  • Location: Various venues throughout Red Lodge.
  • Websites:
  • Best Time to Visit: Depends on the specific event. Red Lodge hosts festivals and events year-round.
  • Cost: Varies depending on the event. Some are free, while others require tickets.
  • Reservations: Check individual event websites for ticketing and reservation information.

Red Lodge isn’t just a haven for outdoor adventures and history buffs – it’s also a hub for arts, culture, and community celebrations. The town hosts a diverse range of festivals and events that showcase the best of local talent, traditions, and flavors throughout the year.

Your Red Lodge Adventure Awaits!

Red Lodge, Montana, is a destination that truly has it all—stunning natural beauty, thrilling outdoor adventures, rich history and culture, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, its authentic Western atmosphere is sure to leave a lasting impression. 

With this guide in hand, you’re well-equipped to explore the best of Red Lodge. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your adventure today!

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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