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Pompeys Pillar

Intermediate
 4.0 (1) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Explore a historically and ecologically significant site along the Yellowstone River, following a path and a boardwalk.


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Map Key

0.6

Miles

1.0

KM

Out and Back

2,920' 890 m

High

2,878' 877 m

Low

70' 21 m

Up

70' 21 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

17%

Max Grade (10°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Geological Significance · Historical Significance · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly While not suited for strollers, the boardwalk and trails are wide and smooth, making them easily navigable for young children. The interpretive sites along the trail and in the center are engaging.

$7 fee per vehicle for entering the monument (which includes the trail and the interpretive center).

Overview

There's a small network of trails around the sandstone pillar and interpretive center. This short, easy, 0.6 mile round trip route takes hikers from the parking lot, past (or, preferably, through) the interpretive center, and along the boardwalk that wraps around and up the north side of the pillar.

Description

Pompeys Pillar is about 25 miles east of Billings, off of Highway 312. Park in the large lot and head west, towards the Interpretive Center. The center has information about the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Yellowstone Valley—it's certainly worth a visit, so be sure to pass through on the way to the pillar, or on the way back.

Past the Interpretive Center, the paved walking path continues towards the 150 foot tall, sandstone pillar. The trail splits, and part loops towards the Yellowstone River, and the other part changes to a boardwalk with a series of steps and landings. The boardwalk reaches the pillar right where Captain William Clark carved his name into the stone on July 25th, 1806. Check out Clark's name, alongside numerous other markings and names from the past several centuries—but please practice leave no trace, and remember that these aren't an invitation to leave your own mark!

Continue along the boardwalk to more views of the Yellowstone River and birdwatching opportunities. Head back towards the parking lot, and consider following the trail to the riverwalk or stopping at one of the picnic tables for a snack.

Flora & Fauna

Located on the banks of the Yellowstone River, the healthy and thriving riparian ecosystem is home to numerous plants, birds, and other wildlife. Deer, raccoons, foxes, bobcats, and coyotes are commonly sighted, along with over 160 species of birds because the Yellowstone River in an important resting place for many birds along their migratory routes.

History & Background

This monument is located on the historical territory of the Crow people. Indigenous people used the sandstone pillar as an important regional landmark for thousands of years. Petroglyphs, pictographs, and archeological evidence suggest that this was a religiously significant location to the Crow people.

Other people—including trappers, hunters, railroad workers, miners, military—passing through the area also made marks in the soft stone. Most notoriously, Captain William Clark carved his name into the pillar when passing through the Yellowstone Valley in 1806. The interpretive center tells the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition, focusing on their time in the valley.

Contacts

Land Manager: BLM Montana/Dakotas

Shared By:

Amber Scott

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  4.0 from 1 vote

#3970

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  4.0 from 1 vote
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Photos

"Pompeys Pillar NM" by Bureau of Land Management Montana and Dakotas (https://tinyurl.com/yhzemsnj), Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
Jan 8, 2020 near Lockwood, MT
"Pompeys Pillar NM" by Bureau of Land Management Montana and Dakotas (https://preview.tinyurl.com/yeoysbgf), Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
Jan 8, 2020 near Lockwood, MT
"Pompeys Pillar NM" by Bureau of Land Management Montana and Dakotas (https://tinyurl.com/yfn65eqk), Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
Jan 8, 2020 near Lockwood, MT

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