Nestled in the Beartooth Mountains,
Red Lodge is a special place.
Let me be honest—in the scheme of winning the lottery among the things I would do (notice: not stuff I would buy) from sharing with family and friends, satisfying that philanthropic list I started, writing full-time, I would quite selfishly indulge in three modest homes. I don’t need lavish—I long for location.
They would be located in:
- Manarola, Italy
- Tenby, Saundersfoot or Newport (the one in Pembrokeshire), Wales
- And … no surprise to anyone who knows me: Red Lodge, Montana
What these places have in common is that they are small towns. Around two thousand or less people small.
What Red Lodge has that is most unique to it is a collection of eclectic people from, well, everywhere under the sun. How this little town at the foothills of the Beartooth Mountains came to be found by so many is amazing. Each of their stories is personal, some simple, some complicated.
Seester and bro-in-law had taken a family vacation from Pennsylvania to Glacier Park and around the state only to stop for gas, chat with someone who asked, But have you been to Red Lodge?
Off they went, became enthralled, home they arrived, move they did.
I found the place, via a visit to them (from California), a year later and home I went and move I did. First to Park City, then to Red Lodge for most of my ten years in the state.
In my trips back since I came to Pittsburgh too many years ago, Red Lodge has never lost its magic. It captivates my heart each time we approach the town via Highway 212 from Billings or Route 78 via Columbus, and it never stops the entire time I’m there.
There are people to see … you know who you are.
Things to do … pick a direction and find a hiking trail, downhill ski at Red Lodge Montana or cross country ski at the Nordic Center. Want to go to Yellowstone Park? The Beartooth Highway is the most scenic drive into it.
Food to eat … linger over a meal with friends at some of the best dining you can have.
Skies to be admired … It is big and in the daylight you can see forever and in the night, with limited lights, you can see the stars in a way no city dweller can.
Do a search on Red Lodge Calendar of Events and you get multiple hits. It’s an active community and it’s not solely for tourists—the locals get into the Festival of Nations, The National Ski Joring Finals, and the Labor Day Arts Fair as much as any visitor. The event I miss the most, although it takes place in the first (cold) week of December, is the Christmas Stroll. Street vendors, businesses feeding you for the joy of it, running into friends you haven’t seen since the first snow of the season fell—it’s an enjoyably brisk way to see the town.
New York City, London, Milan … huge cities I like visiting. But there’s something about the quaintness of a small town that draws me in and makes me want to kick back and absorb. Which do you prefer?
Here’s an article I wrote about the town as well as travel tips—just go to the Local Area Guide menu.
Town photos by Seester aka Jackie.
If you are interested in purchasing gallery-quality photographs of Red Lodge (and much, much more), please visit: the award-winning Merv Coleman Photography.
As I wind down my current visit to this wonderful town, I have to add a couple of snippets:
Jackie, HQ and I were visiting in the grocery store parking lot (I had been inside, dancing with an unknown woman to “Happy”). A car with Pennsylvania plates executed a perfect back-in park to the space in front of us. Jackie applauded the man, I asked, “Where in PA?” “Pittsburgh,” he responded. Me, too, and I named my community. Yep—they are from the same municipality. Red Lodge so enticed them that their one planned night here was now on day three.
Someone I try to see every visit is the former mayor, Brian. He’s a gem and sheer delight. Jackie called him, left a message, then did a house drive-by. Not home. Off we went to another part of town, pulled up to a stop sign, looked left as Jackie’s phone rang. Brian was parked there and was dialing us even as the car pulled to a stop.