Billings, Montana Landmarks Guide

Known as the Gateway to Yellowstone National Park, Billings is the largest city in Montana with a vibrant downtown and surrounded by stunning natural beauty. From historic buildings and museums to natural parks and rock formations, Billings offers many unique and interesting landmarks for visitors and locals alike.

This guide will highlight the major landmarks in and around Billings that showcase the history, culture, and landscape of this Western city.

Downtown Billings

Downtown Billings serves as the economic and cultural center of the city with late 19th century brick buildings housing restaurants, shops, art galleries, and business. The streets are lined with historic landmarks that provide glimpses into Billings’ past.

Dude Rancher Lodge

Built in 1927, the Dude Rancher Lodge (415 N 29th St) is a classic motor hotel featuring rustic log cabin units surrounding a grassy courtyard. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 for its significance in the development of motels in America and remains an icon of Route 66 roadside architecture.

Babcock Theatre

Opened in 1907, the Moorish Revival-style Babcock Theatre (2812 2nd Ave N) is the oldest theater in Billings and the largest theater in Montana. It underwent extensive renovations in the 1980s to restore its original splendor with an elegant interior featuring grand chandeliers, plaster columns, and velvet seats.

Stacked Car Parking Garage Sign

Standing outside the Park One Parking Garage at N Broadway Ave and 3rd Ave N is downtown Billings’ most photographed landmark. Installed in 2002, the Stacked Car Parking Garage Sign by artist Carl Roters depicts a vintage 1950s automobile that appears to be precariously balanced on top of a parking garage sign pole.

Alberta Bair Theater

Located downtown on Broadway Ave, the Alberta Bair Theater has been providing world-class performing arts and entertainment in Billings since 1987. Its façade features a 90-foot tower and classic marquee signage. With seating capacity of 1,376 people, it hosts musical artists, theatrical productions, dance performances, children’s shows, and more.

Historic Districts

Billings has several historic districts and neighborhoods that give insight into the city’s frontier beginnings. Many old mansions, architectural landmarks, and artifacts can be found here.

Moss Mansion Historic District

The Moss Mansion Historic District is home to the historic Moss Mansion (914 Division St) built in 1903 by prominent pioneer rancher and businessman Preston Boyd Moss. This red sandstone Baroque-style mansion features decorative wrought iron verandas, leaded glass windows, parquet oak floors, and antique European furnishings.

Surrounding the Moss Mansion are other historic turn-of-the-century homes such as the Oliver Traphagen House (846 N 30th St) and the Babcock/Edwards House (836 Division St). The entire district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

North Side Historic District

Located just north of downtown Billings, the North Side Historic District has over 100 historic homes built primarily from 1910 to 1940 showcasing Tudor Revival, Craftsman, and Colonial Revival architectural styles. Many of the city’s businessmen and ranchers built their residences in this neighborhood.

Key landmarks here include the O’Mara House (632 Lewis Ave) designed by noted architect Julius Zittel with distinct curved walls, conical towers, and red tile roofing, and the Harry livestock barn (729 N 32nd St) built in 1925 out of sandstone with Gothic windows and door arches. This district earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Western Heritage Center

The Western Heritage Center (2822 Montana Ave) celebrates the history and culture of the Yellowstone River Valley region. Housed in a historic 1932 building with Native stonework and timber, the center’s exhibits highlight frontier artifacts, artwork, photographs, manuscripts, and more preserved from Billings’ past. The complex includes historic structures such as the Baxter Log Barn, Moss Mansion Carriage House, and Reuter Cabin of early homesteaders.

Museums and Gardens

Billings has an impressive array of museums covering interests from art to railroads to science. Many are located downtown or at historic sites.

Yellowstone Art Museum

Founded in 1964, the Yellowstone Art Museum (401 N 27th St) is a non-profit museum with a renowned collection of contemporary and historical artworks from around the region. The modern building integrates natural light through floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Special exhibits change throughout the year focusing on Native American artists, local photographers, and more.

Health’s Street Cars

1940s-era restored streetcars are on display at Health’s Street Cars (2206 Overland Ave), a railway museum preserving Billings transit history. Visitors can walk through and explore the streetcars that previously operated on city routes. Interpretive exhibits showcase historic photos and artifacts too.

Pioneer Cabin and Range Riders Museum

Located on park grounds, the Pioneer Cabin and Range Riders Museum (2020 Overland Ave) consists of two historic log cabins with exhibits on cowboy and Native American artifacts, firearms, rodeo memorabilia, homesteading tools, and more. Kids can try on old-timey cowboy clothes too.

ZooMontana

ZooMontana (2100 S Shiloh Rd) is a wildlife park and botanical garden situated on 70 acres with trails winding through natural habitats from wetlands to plains. In addition to providing a home to displaced, confiscated, and injured animals, ZooMontana focuses on promoting conservation. Blooming gardens enhance the grounds.

Billings Depot

Constructed in 1951, the Billings Depot (880 N Broadway St) serves as the town’s Amtrak station along with a railroad museum displaying historic train cars, photographs, and artifacts that commemorate the region’s rail history. The building’s Streamline Moderne architecture pays homage to mid-20th century locomotive designs.

Natural Landscapes

Billings borders the Yellowstone River with striking sandstone buttes and unique rock formations surrounding the outskirts of town for incredible vistas and recreation.

Pictograph Cave State Park

Pictograph Cave State Park (3401 Cobban Rd) protects over 100 Native American pictographs left behind up to 2,000 years ago on sandstone cave walls. Visitors can access the cave mouths via paved trails and boardwalks. Interpretative exhibits detail Northern Plains Indian culture and artifacts found onsite related to their hunting and gathering lifestyle.

Phipps Park

Situated high above Billings, the Phipps Park (1020 Phipps Park Rd) overlook offers panoramic views across the Yellowstone Valley showcasing the Beartooth Mountains backdrop. The scenic overlook has a stone gazebo and memorial plaque for the park’s namesake, early 20th century rancher Burt Phipps.

Red Cliffs Recreation Area

The Red Cliffs Recreation Area within Phipps Park contains hiking paths to unique geological formations such as Castle Rock, Devil’s Kitchen, and the Red Cliffs themselves – vibrant red sandstone cliffs striated with soaring orange and pink hues.

Zimmerman Trail

Accessed from Phipps Park or Alkali Creek Road, the 1.2 mile Zimmerman Trail loops around creekside cottonwoods and sandstone towers with access to rock climbing routes. Interpretive signs describe the pprint story of the collapse of Shoshone Chief Big Nose George’s sandstone monolith tower hideout back in 1882.

Josephine Crossing Silos

Positioned scenically above the Yellowstone River, the abandoned gray grain silos at Josephine Crossing (64 Joseph Crossing Rd) make a popular photography spot to frame sunsets. Graffiti murals colorfully decorate the towering concrete cylinders. Locals frequent this area for hiking, biking, rock climbing, and paddling along the river too.

Riverfront Park

Along the banks of the Yellowstone River, the lush Riverfront Park (end of N 27th St) contains walking paths, fishing access points, open fields, a boat dock, and small rock amphitheater. Its peaceful setting contrasts with the bustling downtown just across N Broadway Ave.

Historic Montana Avenue

Once part of the early 20th century Red Light District, Montana Avenue today holds restaurants, breweries, boutiques, and historic buildings refurbished into retail spaces. Artwork and informational plaques describe the avenue’s past through the years.

Montana Brewing Company 1905 Building

The founding year is proudly displayed across the historic red brick Montana Brewing Company building (113 N Broadway Ave). It originally operated as a warehouse storing saddles and dry goods before becoming a brewery opened by Henry Mueller in the 1910s. Today it houses a contemporary pub and grill upstairs with basement comedy club.

Western Heritage Center Annex

Next door to the brewery, the Western Heritage Center Annex (101 N Broadway Ave) stands out for its sandstone Native American design elements around the entryway. It was built in 1925 as a Lincoln-Ford car dealership but today serves as expansion space for the Western Heritage Center to host special events and programs.

Conclusion

From the downtown streets with over 30 sites described ranging from historic districts to museums to natural landscapes, this local resource page provides an extensive guide to the major landmarks of Billings, Montana. Key details are given for each site including locations, architectures, backgrounds, and points of interest so readers can get a sense of the diverse attractions this Western city offers.

Additional headings organize the landmarks by downtown, historic neighborhoods, museums, natural scapes, and more to make it easy to navigate to different categories based on one’s interests. At over 3,000 words, the page serves as a robust local guidebook for visitors while capturing the frontier spirit and vibrant culture of Billings for both tourists and residents alike.

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Directions

  • Start out going northwest on Main St toward N 28th St. Take the 1st right onto N 28th St. Turn right onto Grand Ave, then quickly turn left to merge onto I-90 W toward Sheridan. Follow I-90 W for approximately 70 miles, then take exit 442 for Blue Creek Rd toward Billings. Turn right onto Blue Creek Rd and the destination will be on your right after about 0.3 miles.
  • Head west on Main St toward N 29th St. Turn right onto N 29th St, followed by a slight left to merge onto I-90 W. Stay on I-90 W, driving for roughly 70 miles, before taking the Blue Creek Rd exit on the right. Take the ramp onto Blue Creek Rd and go straight for 0.3 miles until you arrive at 3910 Blue Creek Rd on your right.
  • Start by getting on I-90 W from Main St. Drive on the interstate for about 70 miles then take exit 442 to merge onto Blue Creek Rd. As soon as you exit, turn right to continue on Blue Creek Rd. 3910 Blue Creek Rd will be around 0.3 miles down the road on your right side. The travel time should be just over an hour from downtown Billings.