Grass Range, Montana

Just east of Lewistown and situated at the foothills of the monumental Snowy Mountains, Grass Range, Montana is a small but beautiful town nestled in the center of Big Sky Country.

The local conjecture states that Grass Range’s name came from the fact that livestock grazes in this area, and you can’t argue with its all-encompassing agricultural spirit.

Grass Range may not have a smattering of high rises or a brewery on every corner, but it comes with a welcoming Montana spirit and access to the Missouri Breaks, Billings, and – perhaps most importantly – proximity to a number of wildlife refuges.

Signs of a newly established town cropped up in 1883 with the area’s first post office, supporting local ranchers and farmers, but the Grass Range area was also utilized by 19th-century homesteaders – as well as numerous indigeneous tribes like the Blackfeet, Crow, and Cheyenne.

By the 1910s, homesteaders permeated the area with shops, restaurants, saloons, and stables, bravely forging a new life in the center of a steadily growing state.

However, the 1930s brought a grasshopper drought and recession, marking a feverish decline in the Grass Range area. Luckily, a small pocket of determined people steaded themselves within the muck of the Depression, allowing the town to continue its existence. Who needs high rises when you have resilience in spades?

Sitting at a central crossroads where US Highway 87 meets up with Montana highways, Grass Range is popular with truckers as well as ranchers and cowboys (And if you look closely enough after a lunch at Wrangler Bar & Cafe, you may even find the town’s secretive Masonic Lodge building!).

Read on to learn more about this special spot and its surrounding areas. Welcome to Rancher Country!

The Top 3 Hotels in Grass Range

Main Attractions

main attractions

Lake Mason National Wildlife Refuge

Acting as an unstaffed wildlife refuge just south of Grass Range, the Lake Mason National Wildlife Refuge was originally designated as a migratory bird sanctuary in 1941 before transitioning into a national wildlife refuge in 1996.

Its numerous lakes and extensive marshlands provide a nurturing home for over a hundred bird species, and this refuge is one of many satellite spaces meant to protect wildlife from environmental degradation and human consumption.

Beyond providing an obvious sanctuary for birds, listen closely for deer, reptiles, barking prairie dogs, and their counterpart, burrowing owls.

While hunting has been okayed for this spot, we do recommend visiting the official website (above) for more rules and regulations. More than anything, visit Lake Mason to breathe just a little bit deeper in the natural world.

War Horse National Wildlife Refuge & Lake

Located just a short trot north from Grass Range, we love the War Horse National Wildlife Refuge (Yes, another wildlife refuge – pull out your bingo card!).

As a part of the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Complex, this refuge has three separate entities: Wild Horse, War Horse, and Yellow Water, all distinctly beautiful.

This area was established in 1958 as a refuge and sanctuary for migratory birds, as well as migratory humans like yourself. Pay close attention and be on the lookout for mule deer, gray partridge, greater sage grouse, and more.

Hunting, camping, and hiking are all available at War Horse, and the reservoir is occasionally stocked with rainbow trout for your next fishing trip.

While you can’t camp at these beautiful locations, we recommend extending your natural high to the Little Montana Truckstop & Campground in Grass Range or head west to the Ed McGivern Memorial Park Campground.

Bear Gulch Pictographs

A local gem, the Bear Gulch Pictographs offer evidence that these grassy ranges have been lived in and appreciated by inhabitants for centuries, ancestors to the indigeneous tribes mentioned above.

They’ve got a fantastic display of pictographs and petroglyphs, an ancient art that current art historians and archeologists surmise were art, symbology, and perhaps ceremonially ritualized markings after a vision quest.

Similar to Pictograph Cave State Park in Billings, this is a beautiful hike down into a canyon cave, but unlike the state park, it’s home to the largest collection of Plains Indian rock art – around 5,000 artifacts!

We recommend visiting both sites and letting your inner archaeologist blossom. And if you’re lucky enough to visit Bear Gulch – named after a nearby creek – don’t forget to bring snacks for the 4-hour-long visit into the underworld. Trail mix, anyone?

UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge

Alright, back to wildlife refuges! The UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge encompasses over 55,000 acres of protected land – wow! – and it’s one of those special central Montana spots where you can find grazing elk during all seasons, but you may also see bighorn sheep, antelope, and scattering prairie dogs.

This scintillating site is something of a refuge within a refuge, and – calling all history geeks! – it’s a perfect example of what Lewis and Clark would have seen in their 1805 Montana travels.

And if you go even further east, you’ll find yourself at Fort Peck Reservoir, Montana’s largest body of water that brings countless smiles to fishermen statewide. Let us know if you make it that far!

Recreation Activities

recreation activities

Old Baldy

Planning a 3 or 4-day backpacking trip but not sure where to go? We recommend Old Baldy, southwest of Grass Range, for an epic Deep Creek trip for the memory books.

Pro tip: be sure to visit between mid-spring and late autumn for the best hiking – just make sure to bring both bug and bear spray!

As a group with a few friends or one for solitude, Old Baldy really can’t be beaten for its excellent views along ridge tops.

Big Springs Trout Hatchery

Located a few miles southeast of Lewistown, the first thing you’ll notice about Big Springs Trout Hatchery is that this area is perfect for an afternoon or evening stroll – or a lunchtime picnic away from the summertime heat.

We recommend this site especially if you have kids since you’ll have the opportunity to feed fish in the outdoor round pond (Okay, we love feeding the fish, too!).

This coldwater hatchery is the largest of its kind in the state, and it’s open year-round, but arrives between mid-spring to late autumn for the best chance at a warm day.

Burnette and New Year Peak Loop

While you’re spending time in the area, you may want to check out this 6.6-mile loop trail that’s perfect for a hike when you’ve got a few hours to kill.

We recommend starting at the trailhead and heading on up to the scenic overlook – but we should let you know this hike can be steep in parts. It isn’t recommended for a beginning hiker, but hey, that’s what the trout hatchery is for!

Either way, we’re glad you’re getting out in some beautiful Montana nature.


Whether you’re in town as a gateway to the Snowy Mountains or any of the numerous wildlife refuges, you’ll have to spend the night in neighboring areas to squeeze the most out of Grass Range – unless you’re a camping aficionado! Here are some of our favorite places to land for the night.

  • Calvert Hotel – This historic accommodation in downtown Lewistown has clearly been given its glow up. Built and utilized in 1917 as a dormitory for visiting rural ranch children (see: children from near Grass Range!), the Calvert Hotel has been given a modern upgrade while preserving its original early 20th century aesthetic.
    If you wake up needing that morning cup of Joe, all of the Calvert’s room have personal Keurig machines – you’re welcome. While you’re in Lewistown, we recommend checking out Big Spring Brewing, a small brewery with a whole lot of soul and commitment to small-town success. (Try their Mayfly Rye Pale Ale, while you’re at it, before hitting the hay!)
  • Judith Mountain Lodge – For a more rustic spot with great amenities, we recommend the Judith Mountain Lodge, just a bit northwest of Grass Range. We love their cozy, spacious rooms, especially the Lewis & Clark Suite and the Yogo Room.
    Judith Mountain Lodge has exactly the charm and character you’re looking for in a Treasure State sleepover, as well as the nearby gorgeous Limekiln trails to tire you out before nightfall. This is the quiet getaway you were hoping for!
  • Yogo Inn – There’s that word again: yogo! The Yogo is the brilliant and rare Montana sapphire found in these regions, and the Yogo Inn shines with an indoor pool and spa option, as well as spacious, comfortable rooms. Since 1962, the quaint Yogo Inn operates its own restaurant and bar – perfect for a nightcap before your next great Montana adventure.
  • The Big and Little Snowy Mountain Range – For something more rustic, we heartily recommend the Big and Little Snowy Mountain Range, each offering campgrounds and restful recreation. Check out the Crystal Lake Campground, which has 28 spacious campgrounds and opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and the nearby Crystal Lake Loop Trail.
    Likewise, the even more intimate Timber Creek Dispersed Campground has four sites on a first-come, first-serve basis – just bring your bear spray because they may be searching for chokecherries along with you!

Special Events

special events

Grass Range is a tiny ranching town, but it’s entirely surrounded by events, big and small, from the Chokecherry Festival in nearby Lewistown to the Central Montana Fair.

Grass Rangians don’t have to go far to experience the great, big world, but we understand if they just want to rodeo it up on their ranches. Check out some of the area’s most prized events:

Activities Near Grass Range


Recreation Activities

City Parks & Pools

  • Grass Range City Park
  • Winnett Community Pool (Winnett, MT)
  • Lewistown Swimming Pool (Lewistown, MT)
  • Roundup Swimming Pool (Roundup, MT)

National and State Parks

Local & Nearby Favorites

  • Wrangler Bar & Cafe
  • Little Montana Chuckwagon
  • Harry’s Place – a local favorite!
  • Mint Bar & Grill – another favorite!
  • Happy Heifer Bar and Grill
  • El Rancho Alegre
  • Central Feed Grilling
  • Winifred Tavern and Cafe

Related Articles