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Pictograph Cave State Park

The Pictograph, Middle and Ghost caves were home to generations of prehistoric hunters. A loop trail allows visitors to view the rock paintings, known as pictographs, that are still visible in Pictograph Cave. Start your visit at the new visitor center.

Alerts & Closures

Stage II Fire Restrictions for Yellowstone County in the Billings Fire Restriction Area.

The following acts are prohibited until further notice:

  1.  Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire,
  2. Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.

The following acts are prohibited from 1:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.:

  1. Operating any internal combustion engine.
  2. Welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.
  3. Using an explosive. (A patrol is required for two hours following cessation of all activities as identified in #3 above.)
  4. Operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails.

Exemptions to the fire restrictions:

  1. Persons with a written permit that specifically authorizes the otherwise prohibited act.
  2. Persons using a device fueled solely by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off.
  3. Operating motorized vehicles on desigriated roads and trails.
  4. Emergency repair of public utilities and railroads as per attached conditions.
  5. Persons conducting activities in those designated areas where the activity is specifically authorized by written posted notice.
  6. Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.
  7. All land within a city boundary is exempted

About the Park

Pictograph Cave State Park is a place to contemplate the origins of human habitation in Montana. The Pictograph Cave site was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964, because of its archeological significance. Today's visitors can enjoy a unique opportunity to explore the mystery of this extraordinary site and tour the new visitor center.

Prehistoric hunters who camped in Pictograph Cave left behind artifacts and over 100 pictographs, or rock paintings. The oldest rock art in the cave is over 2,000 years old.

Their interpretations are still subject to debate. The images of animals, warriors and even rifles tell a story that has lasted thousands of years.

The park's three main caves - Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost cave - were home to generations of prehistoric hunters. The caves were carved from the Eagle sandstone cliff by the forces of water and wind. The first recorded 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, were excavated from the site. The pigments used in the rock art provide researchers to date when people inhabited the region and give insights into their lifestyle. The artifacts discovered allow researchers to pinpoint which native peoples used the caves and when they inhabited the region.

The park has a pleasant 3/4 loop trail to the caves, with interpretative displays along the route identifying and explaining the natural features, the prehistoric paintings and vegetation found in the area. 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 enjoy the park, it's visitor center and trail.  Also an excellent site for bird watching. There are picnic facilities available for day use only, but no camping is permitted.

Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the new Visitor Center's interpretive displays and gift shop.

The park is 23 acres in size and 3,500 feet in elevation.

Activities

  • Archaeology
  • Cultural
  • Education
  • Heritage
  • Hiking
  • History
  • Photography
  • Picnicking
  • Visitor Center
  • Wildlife Viewing

Amenities

Some amenities are seasonal. Check with the park for availability.

  • ADA Accessible
  • Gift Shop
  • Grills/Fire Rings
  • Interpretive Display
  • Maps
  • Pets Allowed
  • Picnic Shelter
  • Toilets (Flush)
  • Toilets (Vault)
  • Water

Seasons & Hours

Hours listed below are normal operating hours and may not apply when there is a special restriction or closure. Check Alerts and Closures in the tab below.


Park

Summer Hours
Park and Visitor Center
Third Friday in May-Third Sunday in September
Open Daily
Park: 9 am - 7 pm
Visitor Center: 10 am - 6 pm

Winter Hours
Park and Visitor Center
Third Monday in September - Third Thursday in May
Open Wednesday - Sunday
Park: 9 am - 5 pm
Visitor Center: 10 am - 4 pm
Closed Monday & Tuesday, and Thanksgiving, Dec. 24, 25, 31 & Jan. 1

Park Rules

Volunteer

Contact the park manager for open volunteer positions at Pictograph Cave State Park.

For complete position descriptions, application forms, and details about Montana State Parks volunteer programs, visit the Volunteers page.

Fees

Montana Residents

  • Day use entrance is free*

 

Nonresidents

  • Day use entrance fee with a vehicle: $8
  • Day use entrance fee as a walk-in, bicycle or bus passenger: $4
  • With a Nonresident Entrance Pass: Free

 

* Montana residents who pay the $9 state parks fee with their annual vehicle registration have no daily entrance fees to state parks. For residents who don't include this in their vehicle registration, non-resident day use fees apply.

Contact Information

Mailing Address:
Pictograph Cave State Park
3401 Coburn Road
Billings, MT 59101

Phone: 406-254-7342
Email: jkostrba@mt.gov

Take a Look Around

Enjoy this aerial tour of Pictograph Cave State Park

The park has a pleasant 3/4 loop trail to the caves, with interpretative displays along the route identifying and explaining the natural features, the prehistoric paintings and vegetation found in the area. Pictograph Cave is the deepest of the three main caves, at approximately 160 feet wide and 45 feet deep. 

Pictograph Cave State Park

Address

3401 Coburn Road
Billings, MT 59101
Latitude/Longitude:
(45.73800 / -108.43300)

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Meet The Park Manager

Jarret Kostrba

Jarret Kostrba is Park Manager at Pictograph Cave State Park. A Montana native, he began working in State Parks in 2004 and since then has held different positions at Missouri Headwaters, Madison Buffalo Jump, Bannack, Cooney and Pictograph Cave state parks. Jarret holds a bachelors degree from the University of Montana-Western in Environmental Interpretation, with several minors in the natural sciences.

CONTACT INFO
Mailing Address:
Pictograph Cave State Park
3401 Coburn Road
Billings, MT 59101

Phone: 406-254-7342
Email: jkostrba@mt.gov

Photo of Park Manager Jarret Kostrba