Billings, Little Big Horn, and the Montana Plains Sights

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Custer National Forest, Sioux Ranger District

Custer National Forest, Sioux Ranger District Review

The name of these expansive federal lands is misleading: it should really be "Custer National Forests." Composed of dozens of discrete tracts dotting the land from Red Lodge (60 mi southwest of Billings, near Yellowstone National Park) all the way into South Dakota, Custer National Forest is one of the most ecologically diverse federally managed lands. The units in southeast Montana are called the Ekalaka Hills, and like their nearby neighbors in South Dakota, these pine-covered bluffs and mesas are often referred to as "an island of green in a sea of prairie," for good reason. Visible from miles away, the tiny forested ridges appear like mountains in the middle of the grassy plains. Drive any of the four-wheeler roads off Highway 212 between Ashland and Broadus and climb to a timbered ridge. Get out and hike to a vista, where you can breathe in the prairie from what appears to be a great height but is only a couple of hundred feet above the prevailing landscape. Deer, turkey, and even elk fill the woods, and many species of raptors are known to nest here. The area is completely undeveloped and offers no services.

    Contact Information

  • Address: 11 mi southeast of Ekalaka on Hwy. 323, 6 mi east of Ashland on U.S. Hwy. 212, Miles City, MT 59324
  • Phone: 605/797–4432
  • Website:
  • Location: Miles City

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