Ski, shop, and sip local brews in Red Lodge, Montana

With its main drag, historic hotels, charming store fronts, Red Lodge, Montana conjures images of days gone by. Photo: Matt Payne

RED LODGE, MT, October 12, 2012 - While the dusty days of wild west shootouts are more than a century past, the Montana mountain town of Red Lodge, with its main drag, historic hotels, charming store fronts all set against the backdrop of against the backdrop of the Red Lodge Mountain Resort conjures images of days gone by.

Known as “The Gateway to Yellowstone via Beartooth Highway,” Red Lodge, located 60 miles from Billings, Montana, and 130 from Bozeman, began as a mining village.

Downtown Red Lodge

“The majority of the workers were immigrants from all over Europe. Today we still celebrate the ethnic diversity that shaped Red Lodge with the Red Lodge Festival of Nations,” says Doug Bailey, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, of launched and it is the diversity that has launched Red Lodge into one of Montana’s premiere and unique winter destinations.

Whether it the skiing or snowboarding on the slopes of Red Lodge Mountain, cross country skiing at the Red Lodge Nordic Center, dining in one of Red Lodge’s many restaurants, or sipping local brews with the locals at one of the dozens of Red Lodge’s watering holes, this colorful mountain town is a destination not to be overlooked.

Red Lodge Mountain Resort is a ten-minute drive from town and has the laid back, friendly vibe of a local mountain while still offering luxurious, family friendly condos and amenities for visitors.

Whether an experienced skier or snowboarder, or a novice, the pole-pine covered mountain offers a variety of runs and consistent snow. Red Lodge Mountain Resort also has ski and snowboarding instructors for those looking to learn a new sport.

There are few things as simultaneously relaxing and physically taxing as cross country skiing and there is no better place to indulge in this challenging exercise than The Red Lodge Nordic Center. With almost ten miles of trails through the Aspens, Cottonwoods, and Golden Willows of the vast mountain wilderness, the Nordic Center is not only good for Nordic skiing, but snowshoeing as well.

The eclectic shops and restaurants along Broadway, the street’s main artery, are the true testament to the town’s unique local color. There are one of a kind treasures to be found in all of the locally owned upscale gourmet shops, quirky candy stores like the Montana Candy Emporium, the Coffee Factory Roasters, who roast their own beans in house and the bookstore/tea shop, Red Lodge Books

If you are staying in town, make the historic Pollard Hotel the place you stay. The oak paneled walls and rich green paint of the Pollard’s public rooms offer an old world feel. The Pollard has a dining room with a prime rib to beat all prime ribs and after filling up there, venture across the lobby to enjoy a post-dinner cocktail at the Pub at the Pollard. This casual, cozy pub is the ideal place to sip on a scotch, indulge in a vintage cocktail (the old fashioned is perfect), enjoy the fireplace and play a game of pool or darts with your travel mates.

For wild game, festive atmosphere, and the best wine list in town, head to the Bridge Creek Backcountry Kitchen. Featuring what owner Peter Christ refers to as “mountain cuisine,” Bridge Creek makes farm to table a priority. Elk, antelope, and locally caught trout are among the many items that grace the broad yet simply conceived menu.

Like many ski towns, Red Lodge likes to party. After dinner, take a walk down Broadway ten yards in any direction and you’ll find any combination of libations, live music, locals, and tourists toasting to another beautiful day on the mountain.  

Sam’s Taproom offers 12 award-winning local brews. Natali’s Front Bar, where the ceiling is covered in thousands of single dollar bills offers 16 local beers, as well as the town’s best pizza.

On the weekends, you can do no better than The Snow Creek Salon where live bands play mountain favorites like The Grateful Dead and Johnny Cash to disco favorites, sprinkled with 80s, 90s, to some of today’s most popular pop tunes. Basically, if the music is fun, you can find it here.

“Red Lodge is a tourist town with a really friendly soul. When you visit Red Lodge, you will come as a visitor, but anyone who stays for more than a couple of days will be amazed at how they are met with genuine smiles and greetings from the locals they cross paths with,” says Bailey.

After spending a few days there, I can assure you that he couldn’t be more right.




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Matt Payne

Matt Payne has lived and worked as both a television writer and producer in Los Angeles for nearly ten years.  Matt grew up in Oklahoma City and began his career with a degree in Film and Video Studies from the University of Oklahoma.  Since then, he has worked as part of writing staffs for such hits as 24 andWithout A Trace. Most recently Matt wrote and produced episodes of CBS’s The Defenders starring Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell and Memphis Beat, starring Jason Lee, which is set to air on TNT in August of 2011.

In addition to a successful television-writing career, Matt has developed features with major production companies and continues to work as a freelance script analyst for Relativity Media, the production company behind such hits as The Fighter, Zombieland, and Catfish where he has provided script feed back on nearly a thousand features.

When he is not writing and producing television, Matt works as contributor to the Washington Times Communities Travel section, where he has writing skills have taken him from the top of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpar to the jungles of the Philippine Islands.  New York City’s finest restaurants to the earthquake ravaged Port au Prince Haiti. 

Matt was the winner of the 2004 Comedy writing award for Scriptapolooza, a finalist for the Warner Brothers Television Writer’s workshop, and is an active participant in Los Angeles’s Young Storytellers Program.  

Early in his career, Matt spent two years working as an assistant the Endeavor, which is now part of WME, the second largest talent agency in the world, working closely with such talent as Christian Bale and Michael Douglass.

Matt  is a member of  the Writer’s Guild of America and the Screen Actor’s Guild.

Contact Matt Payne


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