3 Days in Red Lodge, Mont.

This scenic small town rocks in a big way over the Fourth of July.
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This scenic small town rocks in a big way over the Fourth of July.

Day 1: Just getting yourself to Red Lodge is a major highlight. The spectacular Beartooth Highway (Highway 212) connects Red Lodge to Yellowstone National Park and tops out at nearly 11,000 feet after steep switchbacks through some of the American West’s most rugged mountain scenery. Buried in snow most of the year, the highway generally opens on Memorial Day, which many locals celebrate by skiing the Rock Creek Headwall off the pass. As you drive into Red Lodge, check into the rustic Rock Creek Resort, located five miles south of town. People say the resort’s Old Piney Dell Restaurant is one of the area’s best.



Day 2: Named after the painted teepees of a band of Crow Indians, Red Lodge is a history buff’s paradise. Mountain Man John “Liver Eatin’” Johnston did a stint here as a deputy sheriff. You can see his cabin on the lawn of the Chamber of Commerce building. Downtown, a plaque marks the spot where the Sundance Kid tried to rob the Carbon County Bank. The historic building is now home to Sagebrush Sirens, a cowgirl clothing boutique. It’s all part of a thriving downtown of brick-faced buildings from the late 1800s. Today, the entire downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Carbon County Historical Society Museum offers maps for an excellent self-guided walking tour. Stop at Regis Cafe, winner of the “best breakfast” award three years running. Bogart’s is a favorite for pizza, Mexican food, and homemade hot sauce.



Day 3 : Red Lodge’s Fourth of July celebrations include a huge parade, lots of parties, and the three-day Home of Champions Rodeo. Later in July, the steel horses of the Beartooth Rally rumble into town. The Grizzly Bar and Restaurant in nearby Roscoe, 19-miles southeast, is where people go for prime rib. Also, make sure to visit the nearby Bear Creek Steakhouse and Saloon and bet on the summertime Pig Races. The small town of Fromberg, 40 miles northeast of Red Lodge, is home to the Little Cowboy Bar and Museum, named one of Esquire magazine’s “Best Bars in America.” And if you prefer to soak in the surroundings from horseback, several members of the Dude Ranchers Association are within 100 miles of town, including the Lazy EL, 7-D, Lonesome Spur, U-X-U, and Rimrock Ranch.

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