On our road trip from Chicago to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons we passed through Billings, Montana and decided to stretch our legs at Pictograph State Park. We discovered it by accident but it was a great place to let the kids out and run for an hour while learning something new!
The one thing I wasn’t prepared for was the steep trails – wowza! The trails themselves were not rocky and easy, just a steep incline to get up to the sandstone cliff caves! It probably doesn’t help that we had done some major hiking through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons the week before our stop though!
Since visiting Pictograph Cave State Park I’ve seen some awesome rock art in Moab Utah and put together this great list of petroglyphs and rock art in the United States.
Aerial Overview of Pictograph State Park:
Although some are difficult to see, there are over 100 pictographs in the park featuring red rifles, animals, horses, and more. As you can see in the video above there’s a short three-quarter mile interpretive trail to take that will take you to Pictograph, Middle and Ghost caves.
Don’t be fooled – it’s not long but it can be very hot and with plenty of steep spots to climb. They aren’t difficult – but the more in shape you are the better off you’ll be!
You can see here the trail up to one of the caves. On the bottom right you’ll notice a sign to “Beware of Rattlesnakes”. There were signs all over the trails warning you of snakes but we did not see any while we were there.
If you have binoculars they wouldn’t be a bad idea to take with you so you can see some of the cave art better. Although the trails are steep and not ADA accessible easily there are ADA restrooms available as well as a nice little hands-on visitor’s center and small picnic area.
The state park is just absolutely beautiful – especially if you love wide open spaces!
Here you can see some of the red rifles I mentioned earlier. Most of these pictograph photos I took required a decent telephoto lens though. The oldest cave art here is over 2000 years old and the youngest is about 500 years old.
The entire visit only took us about an hour so it’s definitely not an “all day” activity and probably not something I would drive horribly far out of my way to get to but it was definitely a great place and I’m glad that we stopped. There is no camping available in the 23 acre park and it cost about $8 per vehicle to get into the park (unless you are a Montana resident).
Other Activities in Billings, Montana:
- DanWalt Gardens
- Pryor Mountains
- The Rimrocks (Zimmerman Park, Phipps Park, Swords Park)
- Pioneer Park
- Pompey’s Pillar (contains signature of Captain William Clark!)
- Yellowstone River (Riverfront Park or Josephine Park)
- Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary
- Little Bighorn Battlefield (one hour from Billings)
- Madison River
- Lake Elmo State Park
- Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area (two hours from Billings)
- Billings Amusement Park Drive-In
- Yellowstone Art Museum
- Moss Mansion
- Western Heritage Center
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