More than 4500 years ago, Native Americans used the caves near Billings, Montana for shelter. The stone walls of the caves also served as canvases for their artists, who left delicate paintings. They are still visible, although they have greatly eroded over time, even in the protective environment of a cave.
At Pictograph Caves State Park, you can still view these faint traces of ancient American art (the oldest of these markings still in existence date back about 2200 years), along with other pictographs added in more recent centuries.
From the visitors center, where you learn a great deal about the cultures that produced the artwork, it's a short paved hike (NOT handicapped accessible) to Pictograph Cave, the larger of the two caves you can visit. Bring along binoculars for better viewing of the pictographs, as the ravages of time and past vandalism have made them increasingly difficult to see. Along the path, you'll also see markers detailing the flora and fauna in the park and information about the excavations that have revealed more than 30,000 artifacts as well as some burial sites.
This ancient artwork is disappearing steadily. See it before it's gone!
IF YOU GO: There are 4 public golf courses and 5 museums located nearby in Billings, as well as the Chief Plenty Coups State Park and Museum in Pryor. For non-resident visitors, the day use fee is $5 per vehicle. It is located 7 miles southeast of Billings off I-90 at the Lockwood exit, then 6 miles south on Coburn Road.
3401 Coburn Road, Billings, MT 59101-6420
WHEN TO VISIT: Open year-round.
JURISDICTION: Montana State Parks
INFORMATION Verified: September 2010