The Old West Still Exists at Red Lodge..

..By Joe Hilbers.

The west was once filled with mining towns and some of them have become famous as they became resorts like Aspen and Park City. Unfortunately all this development has resulted in a complete loss of original identity..

One such place that has retained its roots, original design and traditions is Red Lodge, Montana. Which probably explains why this writer has been back to Red Lodge for 21 straight summers.

Red Lodge has a lot to offer the visitor both winter and summer. For winter sports there is the nearby Red Lodge Mountain ski area, a medium sized resort with lots of downhill and few people.

In summer there are two events which bring people to Red Lodge in some numbers. One is the Festival of Nations, which has taken place for 45 years, the 46th will be held this August. This event shows the historic traditions of Red Lodge which was settled by people from many European nations to work the surrounding mines.

The Festival attempts to preserve the customs, music, food, arts and crafts of the old world and early Montana with one country being honored each day. So there is a Scottish day and Scandinavian day, Italian day and so on.

Another annual summer event is the Mountain Man Rendezvous. So don't be surprised if walking down the main street of Red Lodge you meet someone totally clothed in buckskins right down to Indian moccasins. The Rendezvous brings together people who for fun or for profit recreate the trapper tradition that was so much a part of the early west.

Their annual encampment is picturesque in itself since many camp with the traditional Indian teepee.

Red Lodge is also the gateway to the Beartooth Highway, recognized as one of the most scenic mountain highways in the U.S. Follow Highway 212 and it will take you to Cooke City, Montana and Yellowstone Park.

The rivers and streams that surround Red Lodge are names that are a part of American history.

Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River as well as the west and east forks of the Rose Bud are steeped in trapper lore as places where the beaver trapping was rich if you could escape the dreaded Blackfoot warriors. Today they are the realm of the trout fisherman.

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Last Update:6/21/96

© 1996 Joe Hilbers All Rights Reserved.
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