Big Timber — Sweet Grass County, Montana

The town of Big Timber is about 7 miles from Yellowstone Bend Ranch.

  • Big Timber is the county seat and business center of Sweet Grass County.
  • Elevation is 4,091 feet and the population is approximately 1,650 people.
  • Local FAA airport for private aircraft is 15 minutes from ranch.
  • Commercial Airports
    Bozeman (BZN) is one hour west via Interstate 90
    Billings (BIL) is one hour east via Interstate 90
  • Yellowstone National Park is just 2 hours away

As the gateway to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Big Timber, MT is a small mountain town ready to impress you with its stunning mountain views, varied outdoor recreation opportunities, and Old West character.

Downtown Big Timber features a historic hotel, bars, restaurants, cafes, women’s clothing store, antique stores, hardware store and a fly-fishing shop.

Big Timber is easily accessible off I-90 and highway 191.


  • Bull-a-Rama 5/10
  • Farmer 's Market (July-Sept. Saturdays)
  • NRA Rodeo 6/27-28
  • County Fair and 4-H Livestock Sale (late July)


On a summer day in 1806, camped a few miles upstream of Yellowstone Bend Ranch, where the Boulder River and Big Timber Creek flow into the Yellowstone River, Captain William Clark, spent what he called, an “interlude of pure enjoyment.” By that time, the Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Crow, Assiniboine, Gros Ventre, Arapaho, Shoshone, and Sioux had been hunting this fertile land for centuries. Thousands of years earlier, prehistoric peoples left behind telltale Clovis points, stone tools, and pictographs.

Some years later, French trappers and gold seekers moved into the area. Settlements and towns arose. In 1880, Irishmen and 3000 sheep, en route from California to Texas got word of the fertile land east of the Crazy Mountains and turned northward, beginning a long history of sheep and cattle ranching in Big Timber. By the mid 1880’s, Big Timber was bustling with a new train station on Front Street and a growing wool industry. In the 1890’s, businesses moved to McLeod St., where downtown is today.

In 1900, rancher, Joe Keeney, opened up Contact Ranch to vacationers from the East who would come to enjoy the big sky, horseback riding, trout fishing, and, to the dismay of other locals, ranch chores. The Dude Ranch industry was born, and it helped sustain ranching families and their tradition. In 1921, the Big Timber Rod and Gun Club financed the construction of what is now the Yellowstone River Trout Hatchery, specializing in raising native Yellowstone Cutthroats.

Big Timber’s population has not grown much since those days, currently at around 1,800 people. It is a small town, boasting “western hospitality off the fast lane.” On its classic, western style main street, McLeod St., you’ll find a couple restaurants, cafés, galleries, shops, a grocer and a hardware store. You’ll have a few famous neighbors, but this is a relaxed place about open land, big skies, and western ranching culture, not a place to be seen, but a place to experience.

Find more local information on