Montana is blessed with its fair share of outstanding state parks and one of the most enchanting of them has to be Pictograph Cave State Park .
Situated in Billings, this day-use park is named after its main attraction, the fascinating pictograph caves.
Dating back thousands of years, these caves take the form of rock shelters that were used by Native American tribes.
They contain unique rock art known as pictographs that depict animals, people, and symbols, which provide valuable insight into the culture and beliefs of the tribes who lived in the region.
Visitors can tour the caves and see the pictographs for themselves. For a small fee, the park also offers guided tours, which relay information about the history and significance of its rock art.
In addition to the pictograph caves, guests also have several opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, and picnicking throughout this Montana state park.
Open from dawn to dusk, the park offers guests plenty of sites, attractions and activities to enjoy during their visit.
Outlined below is a brief overview of some of the main things you can see and do whilst you are there.
Caves at Pictograph Cave State Park
As you would imagine, the caves and more specifically the rock art painted on the walls within them, are the big draws of the park.
The pictographs were created with natural pigments, such as charcoal and ochre, and depict a variety of subjects, including animals, people, and symbols. Some of the pictographs are thought to be representations of spiritual beliefs and cultural practices of the tribes who lived in the area.
The caves at Pictograph Cave State Park are open for guided tours, which provide visitors with information about the history and significance of the captivating rock art.
Hiking at Pictograph Cave State Park
After visiting the caves you should take the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the area via the park’s hiking trails.
Meandering through the park are several courses that differ in terms of degrees of difficulty and length, thereby providing options for visitors of all skill levels.
Some of the trails offer views of the surrounding area, including the nearby prairies and hills, while others lead visitors to the pictograph caves for a closer look at the unique rock art.
Before embarking on a hike, visitors are encouraged to check the park’s website or stop by the park office for information on trail conditions, maps, and other helpful information.
They are also advised to wear a good pair of hiking boots and a hat, as well as plenty of sunscreen and mosquito spray. It is also worth taking lots of water, electrolytes and snacks with you as well.
Picnicking at Pictograph Cave State Park
If you do bring snacks with you to Pictograph Cave State Park then you should consider having a picnic.
Located at various points of the park are several picnic areas for visitors to enjoy an al fresco meal in a scenic setting. For visitor convenience, most of these are in easy to get to and shady locations.
Visitors are welcome to bring their own food and drinks and enjoy a picnic in the park. There are also several nearby facilities for visitors who need to purchase food or drinks as well as restroom facilities.
Please note, the consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited in any of these picnic areas.
Birding at Pictograph Cave State Park
If you are into bird watching you will be in your element at Pictograph Cave State Park.
The park features several trails that lead visitors through a variety of habitats, including prairies, hills, and wooded areas, providing opportunities to observe many different types of birds.
Depending on the time of year you visit, some of the bird species that can be seen in the park include bald eagles, hawks, prairie chickens, and songbirds.
Visitors who are interested in birding are encouraged to bring a pair of binoculars and a bird identification guide.
They should also stop by the park office for information on the best times and locations for bird watching.
Pets are allowed to join you at Pictograph Cave State Park, but they must be kept on a leash and under control at all times.
Dogs owners are also responsible for cleaning up after their pets and making sure that they do not disturb other visitors or wildlife in the park.
Please note, pets are not allowed in the pictograph caves or on the trails leading to the caves, as these areas are protected to preserve the unique rock art and cultural artifacts.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog with you to the park it is worth contacting the main office for a full rundown of its pet policy.
Unfortunately there are no camping facilities at Pictograph Cave State Park.
However, there are several campgrounds near it where visitors can set up a tent or park an RV for an overnight stay.
One of these nearby campgrounds include Riverside RV Park, which is a large RV park located just a few minutes from the park. It offers full hookup sites, laundry facilities, and a picnic area.
The KOA Billings is another well-equipped campground which offers full hookup sites, as well as a pool, playground and a store. While over in the nearby Custer National Forest, Rock Creek Campground provides a quiet and secluded campground with exceptional scenic views, terrific hiking trails and very good fishing opportunities.
All of these campgrounds tend to get busy, particularly in the summer months and peak season. Therefore it is worth making a reservation well ahead of your visit to secure your desired accommodation.
Pictograph Cave State Park
3401 Coburn Rd
Billings, MT 59101
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Pictograph Cave State Park:
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