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Miles City, Montana

The town of Miles City, MT is a city right out of the Old West. Its heritage is based around the railroad and the cattle industry.

While these features remain in and around the community today, Miles City is a bustling community that is proud of its western heritage and continues to support traditional western events and activities such as rodeo and western art.

Founded in 1877, when sutlers from Fort Keogh were banished from the fort by General Nelson A. Miles for providing whiskey to soldiers.

These men traveled a few short miles east of the Tongue River Cantonment and set up camp. This rough camp soon became known as “Milestown”, but the official town plat from 1877 called the town Miles City.

Livestock speculation became the primary business in town, with ranchers from Texas driving their cattle to the area to graze on the grass, before loading them on rail cars bound for the stockyards of Chicago.

Today, agriculture is still the central focus of the community. Visitors to the area will enjoy taking in the feel of the Old West, and the many attractions and town amenities that center around the western heritage of the state.

The Top 3 Hotels in Miles City

Fairbridge Inn and Suites
BEST FOR FAMILIES

Fairbridge Inn and Suites

  • Kid-Friendly Buffet
  • Hiking
  • Fitness Center
Super 8 by Wyndham
BEST BUDGET HOTEL

Super 8 by Wyndham

  • Free WiFi
  • Continental Breakfast
  • Pets Allowed
Best Western War Bonnet Inn
BEST FOR COUPLES

Best Western War Bonnet Inn

  • Tea and Coffee-Making Facilities
  • Business Center
  • Yellowstone River

Main Attractions

Miles City is proud of its western heritage, and many of its local attractions center around the Old West feel of the community. Many visitors come to the area to enjoy the annual rodeos, which are the biggest draw to the area and find that there’s much more to do and see in Miles City than they thought.

Range Riders Museum

range riders museum

This museum is all about the Old West, and the history of southeastern Montana. Here you’ll find 13 buildings filled with artifacts that tell the story of western American history.

Most of the exhibits in this museum are focused on the cowboys and Native peoples that inhabited the area in the late 1800s.

Visitors to the Range Rider Museum will find a little bit of everything from dinosaur bones to rocks and even automobiles. Some of the most popular exhibits are about General Custer and General Miles who became famous, or infamous in the Miles City area.

WaterWorks Art Museum

waterworks art museum
Image: David Schott

Once upon a time, this building was home to the Miles City water treatment facility. The building, constructed in 1910 supplied water to the community for 60 years before being repurposed as a museum.

Today, the gallery showcases a number of unique rotating and permanent art exhibits. One of the more popular permanent exhibits is the Home to Montana exhibit which features paintings and photographs that help visitors learn about the state of Montana. The WaterWorks Art Museum also has art classes that are open to the public.

Pirogue Island State Park

Located in the Yellowstone River, the Pirogue Island State Park is a great place to enjoy wildlife viewing in the Miles City area. The park includes the island plus lands on the north banks of the Yellowstone River. Popular activities at this state park are wildlife viewing, walking, and picnicking.

Miles City Main Street

miles city main street
Image: David Schott

You’ll feel like you’ve walked into a real “Old West” town when you spend some time strolling down Main Street. Once home to saloons, gambling establishments, and brothels, the Victorian-era buildings are now home to restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops.

Most of the buildings on Main Street were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some of the original buildings were torn down after the great depression and rebuilt in a more modern style.

One of the best examples of this newer construction is the Montana Theater, a movie theater that was built on Main Street in the 1930s. The theater still shows movies, and also has space for live theater performances, as well.

Recreation Activities

recreation activities
Image: David Schott

There is no shortage of recreational activities in Miles City. The town has plenty of parks to play in, and its proximity to the Custer Gallatin National Forest as well as Yellowstone National Park means there is plenty of places to hike, camp, fish, and hunt.

Hiking

Hiking in the Miles City area is relatively moderate since there aren’t a lot of hills in the area to climb. Most of the area has relatively flat and easy to manage hiking and walking trails.

Miles City has a great walking map that gives visitors a great tool for finding the best places to walk and explore in the Miles City area.

Golf

Miles City is home to one of the best public golf courses in the country! The Miles City Town and Country Club offers a beautiful 18-hole course that is open year-round depending on weather and course conditions.

Hunting and Fishing

Hunting and fishing are two of the most popular draws to the area. There are acres and acres of public and private land that are used for hunting. Most visitors to the area enjoy hunting large game (deer, elk and antelope) or game bird and waterfowl.

Information on hunting seasons, regulations, and hunting licenses can be found on the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks

The Yellowstone River that runs through Miles City is a popular place for fishing. Also, the Twelve Mile dam provides a nice place on the Tongue River for shallow water fishing.

Anyone wanting to fish in Montana needs to have a current Montana fishing license. Fishing licenses can be purchased online from the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks.

Accommodations

Miles City has some nice lodging options that are great for families, couples, or individuals. Most of the popular lodging options are chain hotels, however, there are some local inns, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals in the area as well.

If you are looking for hotel accommodations we recommend the following locations for consideration:

Special Events

Despite its small size Miles City, MT has plenty of fun and unique events that draw visitors to this community. Many of the events celebrate Miles City’s Old West heritage.

The World Famous Bucking Horse Sale makes Miles City the Rodeo Capital of the world every May and is the most well-known event held in the community.

Activities Near Miles City

Recreation Activities

  • Pine Hills Park
  • Oasis Natural Pool
  • Strawberry Hill Recreation Area
  • Eastern Montana Fairgrounds
  • Spotted Eagle Recreation Area
  • Miles City Town and Country Club
  • Pumping Plant Park
  • Bender Park
  • Miles City Walking Paths

National Parks and Forests

State Parks

Museums

Performing Arts

What Is The Cost of Living in Miles City?

Miles City has a much lower cost of living than the national U.S. average which works out close to 20% lower. With a cost of living index based on the US average at 100, Miles City  scores 80.5 which makes it significantly cheaper than the average American destination. Healthcare is the only apparent exception and this works out above U.S. average costs.

Is Miles City Safe to Live in?

On the crime index ratings from 100 (with 100 being the safest), Miles City scores an impressive 40.Annual reported crimes number something around the 126 mark, with over 100 of those incidents related to property crime. This leaves less than 20 reported crimes for violence.

The City Center neighborhoods actually tend to be among the safest in Miles City, with Miles City North reportedly incurring some of the highest crime rates.

What is Miles City Known for?

The historic Range Riders Museum is one of the main Old West museums in the state and features 13 different buildings containing items related to all aspects of the region’s history and that of the state. The Waterworks Art Museum is another attraction in the town. There is also a historic main street along with historic residential districts within the town.

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