The city of Billings, with its population of one hundred thousand, is the largest city in the US state of Montana. Located in the center of southern Montana, it is the county seat of Yellowstone County and is also one of the fastest growing cities in the northern United States. It is the largest city within a radius of approx. 500 km. Of the cities with over 100,000 inhabitants in the USA, however, their number is the smallest. The city got its name after the former president of the Northern Pacific Railway – Frederick H. Billings.
The city was founded in 1882 as just a small railway station, but its growth was very fast and unstoppable. The station stood near the already existing town of Coulson, located on the Yellowstone River, which was then a center of trade. Coulson Park is currently located on the site of the ancient town of Coulson. With the arrival of Frederick H. Billings, the area began to change. He bought up land in the Yellowstone Valley with other high officials of the railroad.
Today, it is often nicknamed the “Magic City” because it is located near one of the most beautiful natural phenomena in the world – Yellowstone National Park. Pompey’s Pillar, or the place where the memorable Battle of Little Bighorn took place, is also nearby. In 1937, a major flood hit the city and it suffered significant damage and loss of life. By 1960, Billings had surpassed Great Falls to become Montana’s largest city, as well as the region’s medical, economic and cultural center. As a result of the oil crisis, a large number of residents moved out of the city in the 1970s. In 1980, the eruption of the Mount St. volcano affected the operation of the city. Helens, several centimeters of ash fell on the city at the time.
According to existingcountries, Billings is home to many educational institutes, such as Montana State University Billings or The College of Technology. The city’s biggest attractions include the Yellowstone Art Museum, Moss Mansion Historic House Museum, Western Heritage Center, Billings Depot and Skypoint.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park, located on the border of Canada and the United States of America, is a unique natural jewel that adorns not only the Canadian province of Alberta, but also the American state of Montana. Dense forests are beautifully combined with mountain meadows, streams and rivers with waterfalls. The nature of the park thus strikingly resembles the alpine scenery of exposed glacial giants. In addition to the mountain massifs, there are also prairies and forests in the park. Thanks to its diverse biosphere, many rare species of fauna and flora have found a home here.
Going-to-the-Sun Rd., a 31-mile asphalt high-altitude road, traverses the park from west to east, running along Lake McDonald to the peaks of the Livingston and Lewis Ranges. It takes you up to a height of 2,000 meters above sea level, from where you can enjoy a wonderful and unforgettable view of the entire Rocky Mountains. It climbs steeply up about half way and drops sharply down again after reaching Logan Pass with a height of 2025 meters. There are sharp and rather treacherous turns on some sections of the road, so great caution is required. Especially in the summer months, the higher parts of this road are besieged by tourists, often there is nowhere to stop, which also complicates traffic.
For more peace and quiet, head east to the secluded Many Glacier Resort near the village of Bobb. You will be greeted by the impressive surface of Lake Sherburne, reflecting the silhouettes of two mountain giants – Mount Gould at 2,911 meters above sea level and Mount Siyeh at 3,052 meters above sea level. Many interesting places can be reached from Many Glacier along perfect hiking trails. Among the most popular excursion destinations is, for example, Iceberg Lake, 18 km away, which feeds the long tongue of the glacier. The shores of the lake are surrounded by meadows with colorful alpine flowers. The surface of this mountain tar, which changes color from azure to dark blue, is also attractive.
Another interesting place is Bullhead Lake, about the same distance away, where big moose go to cool off in the summer. If you have quality hiking equipment, including a tent, as well as the appropriate permit to stay in the park, you can continue from there via Swiftcurrent Pass to the western part of the park. However, the park is interspersed with a number of other longer and shorter routes of varying difficulty, some of which can be completed in an hour, while others take a whole day. However, it is always a good idea to have a detailed map with you, which can be purchased at one of the three visitor centers.
Before you go on a trip, you should tell the rangers exactly where you are going and where. You should also listen to a lecture on how to behave when meeting a bear, of which there are quite a few in the park. In addition to black bears, Glacier also has fifty grizzly bears, which can be deadly. There are therefore particularly strict rules for meeting them. You should never underestimate the rules of cooking, sleeping, washing dishes and food storage. There are a total of 13 campsites in Glacier, but only two of them can be reserved in advance.
Glacier National Park is part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, which the US shares with Canada. Canada’s smaller Waterton Lakes and America’s nearly nine times larger Glacier National Park were joined in 1932 as evidence of the long-standing friendship between the United States and Canada. This natural monument was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1995.