Visiting one or more of the national monuments in Montana can help you learn
more about the state's intriguing history.
It can also help you gain insight into the history of the United States on a
whole, as some of the Montana monuments commemorate past events on the country's
historical timeline. In addition to visiting a few Montana monuments during
your vacation, you can also head to any number of historical sites. Plenty of
buildings across the state, such as the Moss Mansion Historic House in Billings,
are a joy to discover, especially if you're interested in the state's earlier
days. Historical points of interest are everywhere to be found in Montana, and
they are great things to add to your overall travel itinerary.
Of all the national monuments in Montana, the Little Big Horn Battlefield is the most renowned. This protected area, which can be found 65 miles southeast of Billings, commemorates the June 25, 1876, Battle of the Little Big Horn. This battle is also known as Custer's Last Stand, and it was one of the last armed battles between Native Americans and the encroaching white settlers. Lt. Colonel George A. Custer helped lead 263 soldiers and other U.S. Army recruits into battle with the Northern Plain Indians, who were trying the halt the white man's expansion on their lands. The 7th Cavalry, which was the group of mostly veteran soldiers that Custer led into battle, lost about half its men, and Custer himself was killed in the defeat. The Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument covers a site that was originally preserved by the U.S. Secretary of War back in 1879. This preservation movement intended to protect the graves of the 7th Cavalry soldiers who were killed in the battle.
The Custer National Cemetery and the U.S. Army Memorial on Last Stand Hill are among the more identifiable landmarks on the battlefield's historical site. You don't have to pay to visit the national cemetery, but there is a relatively small admission fee for entering the rest of the site. The Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument is open to visitors every day of the year, save for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year's Day. The Custer's Last Stand Reenactment, which takes place every year on June 25, is worth catching if you are in the area in late June. More than 300 actors help to bring the reenactment to life. Another one of the top national monuments in Montana can also be found near Billings. Pompey's Pillar National Monument, which can be found 35 northeast of the city, figures prominently on the Montana Lewis and Clark Trail.
The Pompey's Pillar National Monument is a large rock that is quite curious for various reasons. When Lewis and Clark passed through the Billings area in 1806, Clark carved his name into the sandstone outcropping, which is one of the reasons why it attracts so many visitors. You can also view Native American petroglyphs on Pompey's Pillar, and you can imagine both Indians and settlers standing atop it to take advantage of the sweeping views. Just six miles south of Billings Montana, the Pictograph Cave National Historic Landmark is another excellent place where you can learn a little bit about Montana history. Some of the Native American pictographs that are visible at the Pictograph Cave National Historic Landmark are more than 2,000 years old. Getting back to Lewis and Clark, there are many Montana landmarks, most of which consist of natural sites like rock outcroppings, that you can visit. Also, for anyone heading to Great Falls, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is a great place to learn more about the brave adventurers.
The Montana monuments listed thus far are just some of the monuments and historical sites that you can include in your Montana visit. If you are interested in visiting more national battlefields on your Montana trip, the Big Hole National Battlefield and the Bear Paw Battlefield can be added to the agenda. For fans of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument is worth visiting in addition to Pompey's Pillar. Lewis and Clark passed through the breaks in 1805. You may have thought that Montana vacations were all about the mountains, fly-fishing, and national parks like Glacier National Park, but there's so much more to see and do. Visiting one or more of the national monuments in Montana during your trip can certainly help you enjoy a more complete travel experience.