To walk down the main street of Red Lodge, Montana is to meander into a world of the past. The Western influence permeates every storefront: from the soda fountain feel of Scoop's Ice Cream Parlor to the vintage Roman Theater, this town holds true to its roots in the American West.
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Attractions around the area include the web of trails forging deep into the Beartooth Mountains; fishing, kayaking, and rafting access to a network of rivers and streams populated with a tasty array of trout; guided horseback rides and camping trips; and a myriad of unique and out-of-the-box experiences not available anywhere else. Sylvan Peak Outfitters is equipped to sell or rent out equipment for almost any outdoor activity imaginable, making it a priority stop for the outdoorsmen and women interested in experiencing the vast natural beauty of the moutnains. The nearby pig races attract quite the crowd and are an integral experience for anyone truly wishing to engage their inner hick (http://www.redlodge.com/bearcreek/). The Beartooth Nature Center gives guests a personal experience with animals native to the area, featuring adorable pygmy owls and more menacing mountain lions. The yearly Iron Horse Rodeo (code name for motorcycle rally) occurs every July and draws a mixed and vibrant crowd that puts a new splash of color on the already vibrant scene. The Festival of Nations, the Fiddlers' Competition, and a host of other novel events help to make the Red Lodge culture one of unparalleled interest and excitement.
Dining is an experience in itself. Boasting a multitude of restaurants fit for any palette, Red Lodge's main street features a range of experiences. On the more informal side is Red Lodge Pizza Co, a jewel of a restaurant with stellar pizzas and equally impressive lemonade. Make sure to go on a Tuesday night for the all you can eat pizza and salad bar! Next is Bogart's Mexican Restaurant, perfect for the pre- or post-camping meal. Everything on the menu boasts impressive flavor and size, so expect so leftovers. The higher-end eateries include the Carbon County Steakhouse and the restaurant at the Pollard Hotel. Both offer exceptional burgers, which is to be expected in the land of Black Angus cattle. And for dessert, stop on by the Montana Candy Emporium for some by-the-pound candy and homemade fudge. Selecting huckleberry saltwater taffy from barrels of arrayed sweets is the perfect capper to a fulfilling night.
Lodging in Red Lodge is again a wide spectrum. Chain hotels are available, but the experience of a bed and breakfast such as the Irish Rose, the Inn on the Beartooth, and the Lupine Inn are well worth the cost. These quaint lodgings offer pleasant settings and a convenient location near town. A little farther from town lies the Rock Creek Resort, a wonderful destination for bikers, hikers, and those inclined to the outdoors. With the trails and creek accessible from the grounds, this resort offers a multitude of activities. Guest rooms are available as well as rented condominiums; the flexibility and opportunities this resort provides catapult it to the top of my list for places to stay.
No matter where one lodges, dines, or passes the day in Red Lodge, it is sure to be an unforgettalbe experience. In my 16 years and countless trips to this unique and budding town, I have continued to be impressed both by the culture and the novelty of each of its aspects. I strongly suggest it as a destination for couples, families, seniors, and anyone looking to have a good time nestled in the heart of a beautiful country.
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