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The beauty of eastern Montana: Billings

Billings Native Vegetation
Billings Native Vegetation
Wesley Miller

Billings is in a lucky position in eastern Montana. Located near the foothills of the Beartooth mountains in Red Lodge, it has the benefit of being one of the few cities in the area with a view of the mountains. However, it is still eastern Montana which means it is still covered in prairie grass, barren rock formations and from some vantage points, you’d swear you can see the curvature of the Earth.

This might leave the photographer wondering ‘what’s in Billings for me, then”? The answer is, “a lot”!

Billings is the largest city in Montana. But being Montana, there is still plenty of rural property surrounding. This leaves a photographer with a variety of material from industrial architecture to half-fallen farm buildings. Billings’ rather recent revitalization of the downtown area certainly lends itself well to a photographer’s eye. The gorgeous old buildings are being restored, some with a slightly modern flair. The brick facades and sharp angles lend themselves very well to abstract or straight architectural photographs.

Next up, Billings sits right along the Yellowstone River. The Yellowstone is one of the few undammed major rivers in the US. There are an abundance of locations near the river which provide a photographer with great shots of the river itself or the wildlife that surrounds it. One of these is Two Moon Park in Billings’ Heights. While the Exxon Mobile refinery is right across the river and can be a bit of a distraction at some angles, there is still much open river and a number of interesting cliffs, large cottonwood trees with bald eagle nests and rocky beaches. At high-water, the river covers many of these beaches so going shortly after the water recedes can yield a wealth of driftwood to provide for some unique abstraction.

Finally, is Billings’ most prominent feature. The “Rimrocks”. These are the sandstone cliffs that surround the Yellowstone Valley in which Billings sits. These provide not only their own photo opportunities themselves but also provide a wonderful vista for overview shots of the city, the Beartooth mountain range and all of the surrounding hills. Being up on the top of the “Rims” also provides wonderful opportunities to capture some of the stunning sunsets. Wildfire season can provide some particularly amazing colors.

Billings is just one of the many amazing places in eastern Montana for a photographer. More will be covered in the upcoming articles.


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