Are you ready to fall in love with small town America? Then you must check out all the fun things to do in Red Lodge MT. On our recent Montana road trip, our first stop was in the adorable town of Red Lodge. This town proves to be the perfect base for the start of a Yellowstone road trip. From amazing restaurants, small town charm and history galore you will not be bored in this cute town. Before you head off on your adventure down the Beartooth Highway onto Yellowstone, here are some really great things to do to inspire you to stay over in Red Lodge!
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10 Super Fun Things to Do in Red Lodge MT
Eat at Prerogative Kitchen
My first recommendation for what to do in Red Lodge MT is to eat at Prerogative Kitchen. This hip eatery is a must visit while in town. Located in an old bakery, the new owners worked hard to incorporate original items from the historic bakery into the new decor. From muffin pans decorating the wall to the plush bread proofing oven sitting area, this is a place you don’t want to miss.
It’s not all about the decor though as the food is just as amazing. A perfect place for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. The menu focuses on small plates and piecing together your meal as you want – proteins and veggies. Everything we sampled was amazing, but we particularly loved the brussel sprouts with blue cheese, carrots, baked chicken and risotto sliders. Even if you just pass through town, make time for this!
Pick Up Candy at the Montana Candy Emporium
In my mind, there is nothing better than an old fashioned candy shop. If you are a sucker for old timey candy, you must make a stop at Montana Candy Emporium to pick up some goodies for your upcoming trip. The shop has everything from homemade chocolate, salt water taffy, and a variety of hard candies. We spent ages cruising the aisles trying to choose what to take. We ended up with bags full of sweets to get us through the long days of hiking and exploring ahead.
Unlike many old fashioned shops, the prices here are great, so let your little ones go wild with as little as $5!
Visit Local Animals at the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary
The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary is a great thing to do in Red Lodge for people looking to learn more about the local wildlife. By visiting the sanctuary you are directly supporting the work of this great organization that takes in animals that cannot be released back to the wild. Mountain lions, bears, bison and lots of birds offer a great view into what wildlife you might see on your Montana adventures. Check in with the center before your arrival to make sure they are open and the animals you want to see will be at the sanctuary.
Get Outdoors: Fishing, Horseback Riding & More
Depending on what time of year you visit, there are a variety of things you can do outdoors. If you visit outside of winter, make sure you take the opportunity to explore the area through activities like fly fishing, horseback riding or even UTVs!
For those interested in fly fishing, check out Stillwater Anglers just a bit outside of Red Lodge for their float trips along the Yellowstone or Stillwater Rivers. Their full day package includes lunch and offers lessons on how to fly fish as well as access to beautiful scenery. Fly fishing float trips are not recommended for families with kids under 12 years old as it’s a long day requiring a good amount of hand/eye coordination.
Horseback riders will find riding in Montana a whole new adventure where you go up and down hills and across rivers. For the best horse riding adventures in Red Lodge, check out Elk River Outfitters. Make sure to bring some boots, hat, jacket and raincoat for your ride!
For those visiting in winter, the main draw of Red Lodge it it’s ski resort. Red Lodge Mountain is often not very busy which makes it perfect for beginners or those looking to explore ski runs without crowds.
Visit the Carbon County Historical Museum
The local Carbon County Historical Museum is a great place to pop into to learn more about the local mining history of the area. Families will particularly enjoy the downstairs mining area that provides insight into what a mine looks like as well as what life was like for the miners. Kids who are into geology will love checking out the different types of rocks on display. The museum has a few interesting tidbits that is well worth the effort to check out if you are in the area. I particularly was fascinated to see a real life telephone connection board. These are the type of antiques that help even grown ups see into the past that we have only ever read about. The museum is free, which makes it a nice place to explore if you have extra time in Red Lodge.
Drink the Local Red Lodge MT Brew
Montana has more breweries than you can even sample! But why not give it a try! In Red Lodge the place to visit is the Red Lodge Ales Brewing Company. This great local brewery offers a variety of beers and food. With an outdoor patio, the kids will be occupied playing while the grown ups are sampling beers! A perfect place to relax after a day out on the trails or exploring the town. If for some reason you can’t make it into the brewery during your stay – stop into the local pump for a 6 pack to take with you!
Do you love street art? If so, make sure to check out the cool mural on the side of the building near the Red Lodge Gem shop.
A Wagon Ride is a Great Thing To Do in Red Lodge
During the summer months and on special festival weekends, visitors can take wagon tours around town to learn more about the history of Red Lodge. The wagon tours are also a great way to get a feel for what life was like in the old west. Rides are only offered between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends from 7 – 9 pm. If you see the wagon, flag it down at the next corner and hop on. Rides are free, however tips are always welcome.
Go White Water Rafting
A popular summer outdoor activity in Red Lodge is heading out on the Stillwater River for white water rafting. This is a perfect family friendly activity with kids of all ages able to join in the fun (depending on the rapids). Half day (2 hours on the water) and full day (5 hours on the water) adventures are available from both Absaroka River Adventures and Adventure Whitewater. These white water adventures are located a bit outside of Red Lodge, but are well worth the effort even for a half day float on the water.
A Must Do in Red Lodge is Hike the Local Trails
The number one thing to do in Montana is to explore outdoors, especially if your visit is during the few months of summer! A great local trail to check out is the Basin Creek Lakes Trail. Note that the trail is almost entirely uphill, however it is not too strenuous if you take it slow.
Within .5 miles you will see a small waterfall, then you will walk through a former burn area before heading to the Lower Basin Lake and then Upper Basin Lake. Make sure to take bug repellent as the bugs can be annoying up by the lakes.
If you want something a little easier, check out Wild Bill Lake. This popular walk is easy to get to and includes a lake filled with trout making it fun for families looking to try their hand at fishing.
Start your Beartooth Scenic Highway Adventure
One of the reasons many people find themselves passing through Red Lodge is its access to the Beartooth Scenic Highway. The Beartooth Highway encompasses 69 miles of single lane highway taking visitors through a variety of landscapes including glacial lakes, timberline areas, and down to beautiful alpine forests. It is a must visit if you are in the region and looking to also visit Yellowstone National Park.
Before you set off, stop by the grocery store to load up on snacks and drinks as there is not much available once you get on the highway. Also remember to check the weather and have plenty of layers. On our day exploring the Beartooth we went from cool, to cold and windy to sunny and hot!
Where to Stay in Red Lodge MT
For a town with less than 3000 people, there are several great options on where to stay in Red Lodge. If you are looking for rustic, there are cabins to stay in or if you want to be in the center of town, there is a historic old hotel and everything in between. Below are our two favorites, but we also include map with other options and reviews for you to explore.
For those of you into history and haunted hotels, look no further than the Pollard Hotel. This historic hotel is located in the center of town offering convenience and charm. The Pollard Hotel is loaded with history and staff who will be happy to share their knowledge of the town with you. Even if you don’t stay here, pop in to check out local live music offered throughout the week.
For those of you looking for a low key place to rest your head or a place that offers open space for families, the Alpine Lodge is the one for you. With cabins and roadside motel rooms, this newly remodeled hotel has everything you need for a short stay. Some rooms come with mini-kitchens including a microwave, fridge and sink. Breakfast is included and is fabulous. Choose between classics like biscuits and gravy or breakfast burrito wraps.
For more options and a map of town, check out what is available below.
More Places to Eat in Red Lodge MT
If you are in town for more than a day, check out some of the other places to eat in Red Lodge Montana. We enjoyed a simple, patio lunch of BLT’s and soup at Cafe Regis. This lovely cafe is 2 blocks off main street, but still easy enough to walk to if you want. While at Cafe Regis, make sure to check out the greenhouses and garden in the back where a good deal of produce is grown.
For those with kids in tow, make sure to check out the Red Lodge Pizza Co which offers an assortment of pizza, salads and other Italian favorites for lunch and dinner.
And if you follow me at all, you know that I cannot miss trying the local Mexican food no matter where I visit. In Red Lodge, that places is Bogarts which offers Mexican food and American food. I hear the margaritas are amazing.
Have you been to Montana? Let us know what your favorite things to do in Red Lodge Montana are or if we missed anything!
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Thank you to Yellowstone Country for hosting our stay through the region, offering up great options to explore more of Montana. As always all opinions are my own. If you would like even more ideas on what to do in Red Lodge, head over to their website with current listings and information.