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Pictograph Cave State Park ©
Road sign for Pictograph Caves State Park near Billings, Montana.
Pictograph Cave State Park ©
Pictograph Cave
Pictograph Cave State Park ©
Pictograph Cave State Park ©
Pictograph Cave in Pictograph Caves State Park near Billings, Montana
Pictograph Cave State Park ©
Pictograph Cave State Park ©
Pictograph Cave
Western Meadow Lark ©
Western Meadow Lark
Oh Yell ©
Campfire and Hotdogs ©
Roasting hot dogs over an open fire.
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3401 Coburn Road
Billings, Montana   59101
(lat:45.7378 lon:-108.4311)

Phone: 406-254-7342
First there was the land, the mountains and the rivers. Humans are but recent newcomers to this place now called Montana. However, when and how they arrived is still a mystery. Pictograph Cave State Park is a place to contemplate the origins of human habitation of Montana.

The pictographs are more than 2,100 years old. Their interpretations are still subject to great debate. Do they simply document hunts, or do they honor people or their scripts The images of animals, warriors and even rifles tell a story that has lasted thousands of years. The three main caves - Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost cave complex was home to generations of prehistoric hunters. They were carved from the Eagle sandstone cliff by the forces of water and wind erosion. The first major discovery of artifacts and paintings in the caves was made in 1936.

Approximately 30,000 artifacts, ranging from stone tools, weapons, paintings and the instruments used, have been identified from the site. The red, black and white pigments used provide key information and evidence suggesting that the caves were first used by nomadic hunters seeking shelter. The artifacts discovered allow researchers to pinpoint which peoples used the caves and when they inhabited the region.

The park has paved trails to the caves, with interpretative displays along the route identifying and explaining the natural features, the prehistoric paintings and vegetation found in the area. The Pictograph Cave is the deepest of the three main caves, at approximately 160 feet wide and 45 feet deep. Visitors are advised to bring binoculars to get a better view of the rock art. Allow at least an hour to complete the pleasant 3/4 mile loop of the ancient rock paintings. Also an excellent site for bird watching. There are picnic facilities available for day use only, but no camping is permitted.

It is a National Historic Landmark. The park is 23 acres in size and 3,500 feet in elevation. It offers vault toilets, grills/fire rings, picnic tables, trash cans, and drinking water.

Bikes are not permitted on the trails, and the trails and cave are not disabled accessible only the restroom, water fountain, and parking area. Binoculars are very helpful in viewing the pictographs. There are 4 public golf courses and 5 museums located nearby in Billings, as well as the Chief Plenty Coups State Park and Museum in Pryor.
History of the Area
Pictograph Cave, located near Billings in Yellowstone County, Montana, is a site of significant archaeological and historical importance. The cave complex consists of three main caves: Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost caves.

The area was historically used by various Native American tribes for thousands of years as evidenced by the rock art found within the caves. These pictographs are believed to be between 200-2,100 years old and depict animals, warriors or hunters; they provide insight into prehistoric life.

In terms of ownership before it became protected land managed by the state government's Fish Wildlife & Parks department (FWP), records indicate that local families owned parts of this region including one known as "Kelly."

During excavations conducted from 1937 through 1941 led by H. Melville Sayre under Works Progress Administration projects during the Great Depression era revealed over 30 thousand artifacts indicating extensive human use ranging from weapons to tools dating back at least up until about AD1250 - evidence suggesting habitation spanning nearly nine millennia prior.

After these findings were made public interest grew leading eventually towards its designation first as National Historic Landmark status granted in 1964 followed then later becoming officially established parkland open visitors year-round since 1976.
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Pictograph Cave National Historic Landmark is located 7 miles southeast of Billings off I-90 at the Lockwood exit, then 6 miles south on Coburn Road.