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Miles City, Mont.: Cowboy Culture

Cowboy boots on the mind? At Miles City Saddlery, a shopper pulls on a purple pair.

Photo caption
Cowboy boots on the mind? At Miles City Saddlery, a shopper pulls on a purple pair.

The television miniseries Lonesome Dove portrayed Miles City as a mountainous enclave of cowboy culture. Well, the show's producers got the cowboy part right. Set about 145 miles northeast of Billings in wide-open prairie along the Yellowstone River, Miles City (population 8,500) was built on saddles and steers. Horses, too. The bucking horse sale, May 13 through 16 this year, is an annual blowout. Area code is 406.

  • Even people who leave the riding to cowhands will admire the $8,000 hand-tooled saddles at Miles City Saddlery. The Stetsons, boots, and lariats are bargains by comparison. 808 Main St., 232-2512,
  • The lead steer from a late-19th-century cattle drive looks over patrons at the Montana Bar, which also features a tin ceiling, a mosaic tile floor, horsehide booths, a bar that traveled up the Missouri River on a steamboat, and at least one bullet hole. 612 Main St., 234-5809.
  • Steaks, sure. But the new Iron Horse Supper Club also offers dinner fare that would flap a cowpoke's chaps: dim sum, lamb chops, and crème brûlée. 420 Pacific Ave., 234-6987.
  • Artifacts at the Range Riders Museum include sidearms from the Battle of the Little Bighorn and a restored one-room schoolhouse. Above all, don't miss the photos: soldiers, Cheyenne chiefs, and more than 850 portraits in the Pioneer Memorial Hall. 435 L.P. Anderson Rd., 232-6146.
  • See work by painter and lithographer Kevin Red Star, known for his depictions of the Crow tribe, and by other Western artists at the Custer County Art & Heritage Center. Waterplant Road, 234-0635.
  • Find all the modern comforts—free breakfast, pool, hot tub—at the GuestHouse International Inn & Suites. 3111 Steel St., 232-3661,

Photography by Andrew Geiger

This article was first published in March 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.