I’m really excited to interview Jim Markel of Red Oxx about Billings, Montana. Jim’s tips for the best things to do in Billings are awesome because after he got out of the military, he went to school and came to Billings to build his business. Jim says that even though Billings is a growing city, it still feels like taking a step back in time. He also loves all four seasons on the Montana prairie.
Billings is located on the Yellowstone River in southern Montana. It is nicknamed the “Magic City” because of its rapid growth since being founded as a railroad town in March 1882. Billings is also known as the “City Beneath the Rimrocks” (aka “Rims”), which are a 300 to 800-foot sandstone formation. It is the largest city in Montana with a population of approx 110,000.
There are numerous annual events and festivals that occur in Billings, such as the Burn the Point Car Show, Montana State Fair, Magic City Blues Festival, and the NILE Stock Show & Rodeo. Billings also has Montana’s only walkable brewery trail (which I happened to go on when I visited in 2019). Campers know Billings as the HQ for KOA Campgrounds. History buffs will be interested in learning that the nearby Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is the place where Colonel Custer died. If you want to get out and explore in the fresh air, Billings has an extensive trail system and bike lanes around town.
We share a lot of resources and local suggestions in today’s podcast, but you should also check out Visit Billings, the local visitor’s bureau. They are a wealth of information and can help you plan an itinerary based on your time, budget, and interests.
If you’d like to learn how to travel for free using airline miles and hotel points, check out my free 7-day email course.
Getting around Billings
The local airport is Billings Logan International Airport (BIL), which is only an 8-minute drive to downtown.
Jim says that it’s a good idea to rent a car when visiting because attractions can be spread out. Also, if you want to explore the natural beauty of the area, having a car makes it easier to take in the scenery and go hiking. For the best offers, visit Avis, Budget, or Hertz.
Places we talked about on the podcast
Here is a map of all of the places we talked about on the podcast episode with Jim Markle about Billings, Montana. You can zoom into the map and click on each dot to explore the city.
- Red dots = best places to eat in Billings, Montana
- Green dots = best things to do in Billings, Montana
- Yellow dots = best places to stay in Billings, Montana
Who is Jim Markel?
Jim Markel is a Marine Veteran that moved to Billings, Montana, to build Red Oxx with his Dad. Red Oxx started out crafting lifting straps and weight belts for fitness gear in 1986. As Jim took over the business from his Dad, he expanded into rifle cases and hunting gear for the local Montana sportsman market. The business soon added nylon luggage and sporting gear to its product line.
Its products are built here in America and have forged a culture and reputation of true quality. Red Oxx products are only sold directly to consumers at its Billings, Montana, factory store and through its online store. This keeps costs down and ensures that Red Oxx has a direct connection with its customers.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jim and his team during my visit to Billings during TBEX (bloggers conference) in Fall 2019. We were able to take a factory tour and see first-hand how the bags were made and see the quality with our own eyes. I love being able to support local businesses like Jim’s.
Here are a few articles about his company:
Big thanks to today’s affiliate partner – Acorns
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Stay tuned for our next episode
Listen to the next episode when Evan Stern of Vanishing Postcards shares the best things to do in Austin, Texas. In this episode, Evan and I talk about taking a dip in Barton Springs, eating at Sam’s BBQ, and live music at Broken Spoke. We hope you’ll join us when We Travel There.
To learn more about this part of the country, please listen to our other episodes: