Many of the outdoor activities in these parts take place in the Custer National Forest. For information, contact the Beartooth Ranger District Office of the Custer National Forest, at the south end of town along U.S. 212 (HC 49, P.O. Box 3420, Red Lodge, MT 59068; tel. 406/446-2103; www.fs.fed.us/r1/custer). The office is open daily from 8am to 5pm in summer, and Monday through Friday 8am to 4:30pm in winter.
The Red Lodge Mountain Golf Course (tel. 406/446-3344) is notorious for swallowing golf balls. Water comes into play on 13 of the 18 holes. The signature hole is the 238-yard, par-3 no. 15, where you hit to an island green from an elevated tee about 80 feet above the hole. Adult greens fees are $29 to $39 for 18 holes. Carts are $24 for two riders playing 18 holes.
There are some popular and challenging day hikes not far from Red Lodge. Drive south on Route 212 about 10 miles to County Road 2346, then 2 miles down that road to the Lake Fork of Rock Creek. From here you can do a full loop of 19 miles to the West Fork of Rock Creek trail head (or do it as an overnight backpacking trip), or just walk up a few miles to some great fishing in the streams and lakes along the way and return.
Other popular hikes leave from the trail head at the West Fork of Rock Creek. Head west on Red Lodge Mountain Resort's access road, known locally as Ski Run Road. When the road forks, stay left and continue for several miles past a number of campgrounds. The road turns to gravel and ends at the West Fork trail head. The hike from here to Timberline Lakes is a moderate 9 miles round-trip. If you're not feeling that energetic, you can hike for about a mile to a picturesque waterfall. The fishing in Lake Mary near the trail is very good.
The Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness area is a 950,000-acre wilderness that extends from the boundary of Yellowstone through two national forests. It's some of the most spectacular country in the Lower 48 states. Because of its proximity to the park, it is heavily used. There are lots of great hikes, incredible vistas, and pristine lakes with excellent trout fishing. Granite Peak, at 12,799 feet, is the tallest mountain in Montana, but it's only one of the 28 mountains topping 12,000 feet in the Absaroka-Beartooth.
For information about the above trails, contact the Beartooth Ranger District Office.
Red Lodge Mountain Resort (P.O. Box 750, Red Lodge, MT 59068; tel. 800/444-8977 or 406/446-2610; www.redlodgemountain.com) is a relatively small, family-oriented ski area. But it's growing: The skiable terrain includes 1,600 acres of mountain, with a vertical drop of 2,400 feet. There are about 70 trails, with 45% of the mountain rated for intermediate skiers, 17% for beginners, and 38% for advanced and expert. Of the eight lifts, two are high-speed quads. An average of 250 inches of snow falls each year, plus Red Lodge has one of the largest snowmaking operations in the Rockies. Lift tickets cost $47 for adults, $39 for seniors 65 to 69, $40 for juniors 13 to 18, and $17 for children 6 to 12 (free for kids 5 and under and seniors 70 and over); half-day tickets are also available. The season usually runs from late November to early April, with hours of 9am to 4pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.