Red Lodge, Montana is a hidden gem of a mountain town. A town you have probably never heard of. But a town that has all the charm to keep bringing those that have experienced this underrated place back over and over. Whether you’re a winter sports enthusiast, wanting to try winter activities for the first time, or just want a charming winter getaway – Red Lodge Montana in Winter has something for everyone.
This post is Sponsored by Visit Montana. All opinions are my own.
- Where is Red Lodge, Montana?
- Getting There:
- 10 Best Activities to do in Red Lodge Montana in the Winter
- 1. Ski at Red Lodge Mountain
- 2. Go Snowshoeing in Montana in the Winter
- 3. Enjoy a Short Winter Hike
- 4. Drive out to the Scenic Beartooth Mountains
- 5. Rent Skates and Head to the Town Ice Rink
- 6. Learn to Cross Country Ski at the Nordic Center
- 7. Take a Day Trip to Yellowstone National Park
- 8. Hang out in Downtown Red Lodge
- 9. Stay at the Pollard Hotel
- 10. Enjoy Good Food and Drink
- Video Highlight of Red Lodge:
- More Things to Do:
- Summary: Why You Should Visit Red Lodge Montana in Winter
All images produced in collaboration with Johnathon DeSoto.
Land Acknowledgement: Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla, Apsaalooke (Crow), Salish, and Cheyenne Land. Find what Native Land you are visiting by using the app Native Land! I encourage you to read the history and culture of the Indigenous people who’s land you are visiting! Consider visiting nearby cultural centers and seeking out other ways to financially support Indigenous People.
Where is Red Lodge, Montana?
Red Lodge is located in South-Central Montana along the scenic Beartooth Mountains and Custer Gallatin National Forest. It is a cozy town of about 2,000 people that are quick to welcome you and share good food, lots of history, and stunning views. It is known as the Gateway to Yellowstone National Park, but also has it’s own set of views and adventures that make this a great getaway destination.
It was an easy flight to Billings, Montana. Billings is exactly a one hour drive Northeast of Red Lodge, making it very easy to start your getaway.
I recommend renting a car so that you can get out and see all this area has to offer! When visiting in the Winter months, I recommend getting a car with AWD or 4WD. Car rental pick up and drop off was so fast and convenient at the airport.
10 Best Activities to do in Red Lodge Montana in the Winter
1. Ski at Red Lodge Mountain
Red Lodge, Montana is “the Best Ski Town You’ve never heard of” and I find that to be very accurate. Red Lodge Mountain is known for having no crowds and over 70 ski runs.
This would be a great place to learn to ski due to the lack of crowds and available lessons here!
But also if you’re a practiced skier or snowboarder to get away from all the crowds at some of the more well known resorts. Lift Tickets are reasonably priced and they even have a Sunday Special running for $30.
2. Go Snowshoeing in Montana in the Winter
Red Lodge, Montana has some pretty incredible snowshoeing trails that are only 15-20 minutes from town. You can rent snowshoes in Billings, Montana at The Base Camp or in Red Lodge at Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop! I recommend calling ahead to reserve rentals!
I recommend Lower Lake Fork Trail as you get stunning backdrops of the mountains and do not have to worry about driving your car up a potentially very snowy road.
Another great trail system is the West Fork Trails. This trail system is very popular among the locals as it is easy to access, has miles of trails and beautiful mountain views.
3. Enjoy a Short Winter Hike
Head out to Wild Bill Lake Loop (0.5 miles, 49 ft elevation gain). This is a short and sweet local trail that has views of a frozen lake in the winter. I loved starting the mornings in nature here as it is so quiet and peaceful.
I also enjoyed hiking around the snow-covered campgrounds. Greenough Lake Road had lots of opportunities to walk around and enjoy the snowy scenery.
If the snow is on the lighter side, hike Lake Fork Trail.
All of these trails are beautiful and lightly trafficked. Coming from Portland, Oregon – it was an incredible feeling to have a trail to myself multiple times.
4. Drive out to the Scenic Beartooth Mountains
While the Beartooth Highway does close during the Winter, you can still drive to the end for a very scenic drive. The road stays open for about 20 miles past Red Lodge, Montana and has pull-offs and trailhead roads perfect for taking in the views and photo opportunities.
I woke up for sunrise, grabbed a warm beverage and watched the sky paint the mountains pink and golden. If you can manage an early morning, I highly recommend it.
5. Rent Skates and Head to the Town Ice Rink
Red Lodge has a community volunteer operated ice rink in the winter. It is right in town at Lions Park. Check out the Red Lodge Ice Schedule before renting skates as there are frequent community events held here! Head to The Ski Station in town to get your skate rentals and have fun on the ice!
6. Learn to Cross Country Ski at the Nordic Center
This had been on my bucket list for SO long. I was so excited to have the opportunity to try Cross Country Skiing in such a beautiful place. If you’re already a practiced XC skier – head to the Nordic Center or West Fork Trails to ski!
If you’re a beginner, like I am, I highly recommend taking a lesson from one of Red Lodge’s instructors through Beartooth Trails Association.
We had Melisa Griffith as an instructor and after an hour with her, we were feeling pretty confident on the trails! I ended up staying on the trails for almost 3 hours and was very sore the next day haha.
Head to Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop for your cross country ski rentals!
7. Take a Day Trip to Yellowstone National Park
A great part about South Central Montana in winter is it’s close proximity to Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone National Park is open year round. Winter is a great time to visit as there are less crowds.
The North entrance is the only entrance that remains open to traffic which is just over 3 hours away from Red Lodge, Montana. There are opportunities to snowshoe and cross country ski in Yellowstone National Park which would be so unique!
8. Hang out in Downtown Red Lodge
If you’re walking around downtown, be sure to check out the Montana Candy Emporium, Carbon County Historic Museum and the Red Lodge Clay Center. A couple minutes outside of town is Red Lodge Ales Brewing Company.
9. Stay at the Pollard Hotel
The Pollard Hotel is the oldest brick building in Red Lodge, Montana. It has so much old charm and incredible views of snowy downtown and the Beartooth Mountains. We thoroughly enjoyed the attached restaurant and cocktail bar as well as having gym and sauna access.
Staying at the Pollard Hotel puts you right in the heart of it all and only 15 minutes from all the snowy adventures you could want.
10. Enjoy Good Food and Drink
Red Lodge is a small mountain town, but still brings excellent food and drink to the table. I highly recommend checking out some of the local restaurants to fuel up before or after your winter activities or to enjoy a relaxing evening. My Favorites:
- Marli’s at the Pollard Hotel
- Prerogative Kitchen
- One Legged Magpie
- Natali’s Front Bar
- Cafe Regis
Video Highlight of Red Lodge:
Here’s a quick highlight of some of our time in Red Lodge, Montana! Video and all photos in collaboration with Roseto Films.
More Things to Do:
For a complete list of things to do in Red Lodge visit my Guide:
Summary: Why You Should Visit Red Lodge Montana in Winter
There is a lot to see and do in Red Lodge, Montana in Winter. A long weekend here makes for such a fun, scenic and memorable getaway any time of year, but offers unique activities in the Winter. It was refreshing to visit a place that did not feel overcrowded and connecting with this community has me excited for future adventures in Red Lodge. Have you heard of Red Lodge before?
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