Once an old mining town on the very frontiers of Crow Indian territory, Red Lodge, Montana is now one of the most popular stopovers on the way through to the Yellowstone National Park. Set amidst the majestic foothills of the Beartooth Mountains, even the drive in and out of town is sure to impress. Expect panoramas of snow-tipped peaks and steep alpine valleys, along with a healthy array of all the concomitant outdoor activities, from skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, to hiking, biking, fishing and golf in the summer. Red Lodge itself is also home to a number of surprising little points of interest that make it worthy of more than just a one-night stay. Visitors enjoy a selection of quirky cafés and traditional eateries, along with a laid-back, chilled-out mountain vibe that's often a welcome relaxation before delving into the drama of Yellowstone in the west.
The Red Lodge Mountain Resort is hailed as one of the best value ski fields in all of Montana. Full day, adult lift passes come in at just $50, and the centre boasts a real variety of well-groomed runs, ranging from beginner nursery slopes to advanced, black pistes. In the winter the resort also hosts a seasonal festival, and during the warmer months visitors are invited to play the on-site, 18-hole golf course.
This casual diner is one of Red Lodge's premier kitchens, known for its use of locally-sourced ingredients and mastery of the classic American breakfast. Every dish is homemade, with some gluten-free and vegan menu items. Visitors enjoy al fresco dining next to the very gardens where many of the in-house salads and vegetables are grown.
The Pollard is a magnificently restored old town building in the heart of Red Lodge, where visitors enjoy traditional mountain hospitality and a number of top-quality hotel luxuries. On-site, a fully-fledged health club is open to guests, while a number of dining options and the hotel's traditional pub offer a taste of classic Red Lodge gastronomy. With a location in town, the Pollard is well placed for visitors looking to explore the shops and cafés here, while still boasting great access the nearby Yellowstone Park.
The Custer National Forest is a truly colossal swathe of the American west, encompassing more than one million acres of land and territory in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Visitors enjoy some of the most dramatic vistas on the continent too, where sheer mountain faces and rugged valley sides are covered in a diverse ecology of fir, spruce and pine. Don't miss Montana's highest point at Granite Peak, or the fascinating Grasshopper Glacier, where myriads of extinct insects can be spied out in the ice.