Makoshika State Park

A rainbow curves over sandstone formations at Makoshika State Park.

LARRY MAYER/Gazette Staff

Eastern Montana tends to be overshadowed by the mountainous and forested western side of the state, but anyone who’s lived on the east side knows it has a lot to offer.

This road trip covers some of the most scenic parts of Eastern Montana and includes stops at plenty of beautiful attractions.

Start your morning in Billings with breakfast at the Red Rooster Cafe, where home-cooked meals are served in a comfortable and unpretentious setting. If you can stomach sweet treats first thing in the morning, their cinnamon roll will hit the spot.

When you’re full, drive up to the Four Dances Natural Area, stretch your legs and take some photos of the city before you head east to Miles City.

Home of the infamous Bucking Horse Sale, Miles City is a surprisingly fun little town of about 8,600 people. Don’t miss checking out the Range Riders Museum, a huge collection of bits and pieces of Montana’s “cowboys and Indians” past.

Then head to the beautiful Tongue River Winery at 99 Morning Star Lane. If you’re not the one behind the wheel, try a tasting, but either way, don’t leave without stocking up on your wine of choice. They have red and white wines as well as some dark fruit wines and apple wines.

Stop for a bite at Main Street Grind, a local favorite, before moving on.

Next, head east on Interstate 94 to the Terry Badlands. Located three miles north of Terry, this wilderness study area is a great place to go for a short hike and take a few more photos. You’re also very likely to see some wildlife.

Last but not least, drive the 45 miles northeast to the beautiful Makoshika State Park, the true gem of Eastern Montana. You’ll find badland formations, fossil remains, hiking trails and wildlife here. There are a few hotel options in the area, or you could always drive back to Billings, but camping near the park will be the most peaceful option — and you’ll get to see a sunset and starry sky you’ll never forget.