The town of Laurel, MT is the largest town in Montana that is not a county seat. This charming community located along I-90 just west of Billings is a perfect getaway if you’d like to enjoy the Billing area, without staying in the big city.
The first settlers in the area were those that stayed behind when the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through the area in 1806. However, the first permanent settlers were not recorded in the area until 1879.
The original site of the town of Laurel was located near the fork of the Yellowstone and Clark rivers. However, over time the city moved north to its current location.
The city of Laurel has a long history as a railroad community and is the 1,000-mile checkpoint for the Montana Rail Link that runs between Laurel and Sandpoint, Idaho. Other railroads that have been served by the city of Laurel include the Northern Pacific, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincey, and the Great Northern.
The city is nicknamed “The Hub of Montana” because it sits at the junction of many of the state’s most traveled highways. From here you can head to any number of the most popular sites in Montana.
Chief Joseph Monument
Located in Fireman’s Park in Laurel is a beautiful statue dedicated to Chief Joseph. Chief Joseph was a Nez Perce leader who attempted to peacefully move his people from the reservation that had been established by the US government.
The Nez Perce left the reservation in the mid-1880s after gold was found on the reservation and the land area for the tribe was reduced to only 1/10th of the original size.
The Nez Perce and Chief Joseph surrendered to the US Army after fighting them at both Canyon Creek and Big Hole. Chief Joseph was considered one of the greatest leaders in the Nez Perce nation. The monument in Fireman’s park is dedicated to his perseverance to protect his people.
Perhaps one of the most peaceful and pleasant parks in Laurel is Riverside Park. Not only does this park have plenty of opportunities for recreation along the Yellowstone River, but it also has an interesting history.
The stone buildings in the park are remnants of the Japanese internment camp that was located at the park site during World War II.
In the park, you can enjoy picnic spots, volleyball pits, and even camping. While you’re there, take time to read the interpretive signs that tell the history of WWII internment camps that were located here, and throughout the United States.
Canyon Creek Battlefield Monument
This is the location of the second to last battle of the Nez Perce against the US Army after they left the Yellowstone National Park area in 1877. The battlefield is located just under 10 miles north of Laurel.
There are a few interpretive trails through the battlefield, along with a pavilion at the highway turnoff. The area has not been changed much since the Canyon Creek battle, where Nez Perce warriors held off approaching cavalry from the tops of the canyons.
Laurel 4th of July Festival
If you love fireworks during the 4th of July, then Laurel is the place to be. Laurel has the largest, free firework display in the state of Montana.
Every year thousands of people flock to the City of Laurel to witness their amazing fireworks display. The display is put on by the Laurel fire department and is truly a sight to be seen.
Located on the banks of the Yellowstone River, fishing is probably the most popular recreational activity in Laurel. Check out Cooney Dam, the Buffalo Mirage fishing access, and the Sundance Lodge Recreation area for great spots to fish.
Many people love wading the Yellowstone to fly fish, however, if you’re more into cast fishing, Riverside Park is a great place to pull up a chair and fish on the banks of the Yellowstone.
All visitors to Montana must have a current Montana fishing license. Fishing regulations and information on how to buy a Montana fishing license online can be found on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website.
Laurel is home to the Laurel Golf Club, an 18-hole, championship golf course. The Laurel Golf Club is a full-service golf course that has reasonable green fees and a great restaurant and pro shop.
The golf club also has full tennis facilities as well.
With so much open space around Laurel, there are plenty of great opportunities to get out and hunt. Hunters visiting Laurel will find plenty of public and private lands to hunt on (don’t hunt on private land without landowner permission).
Popular game animals in the Laurel area include deer, antelope, elk, and game birds.
All visiting hunters to Montana will need to possess a current Montana hunting license. For more information on Montana hunting regulations or to apply for a hunting license visit the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks website.
Laurel is a pretty small community, so the opportunities for lodging are a bit limited. Besides the one-chain hotel, you’ll find a few smaller, locally owned inns and bed and breakfasts in town.
If you are planning on staying in nearby Billings for your trip to Laurel you can check out all the accommodations available here.
Because Laurel is located so close to Billings, you’ll find that this community doesn’t have many annual events. However, the one event that you can count on every year, and should not be missed if you’re in the area is their 4th of July Festival.
Activities Near Laurel
- Alder Park
- Cherry Hills Park
- Emma Murray Park
- Firemen’s Memorial Park
- Firemen’s Park
- Kiwanis Park
- Lions Family Park
- Mayors Park
- Murray Heights Park
- Nutting Park
- Riverside Park
- Rotary Park
- Russell Park
- Soccer Field Park
- Thomson Park
- Veterans Park
- Sportsman Park Raft Access
- Laurel Golf Club
National Parks and Forests
- Yellowstone National Park
- Custer Gallatin National Forest
- Sundance Lodge Recreation Area
- Canyon Creek Battlefield and Highway Pullout
- Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
- Yellowstone National Cemetery