I subscribe to Outside magazine. I like the annual Best Places to Live feature and spent some time this morning going through the 2017 list. These towns are great if you want easy access to the adventure and wonder of the Great American Outdoors. Here is a sample from last year’s list, available online for free. Outside’s top pick was Billings, Montana. Here’s why:
When it comes to fitting you for a cowboy hat, the gals at Taubert’s Ranch Outfitters have two ways to go about it. If the hat is a little tight, they’ll point out, your head will stretch it over time. If it’s loose, they’ll advise you to stuff the band with some newspaper. Nothing fancy, problem solved.
Taubert’s, purveyor of hats, cowboy boots, and Pendleton blankets, has been on North Broadway in downtown Billings since 1979. Back then this shopping district was a cen-ter of commerce for ranchers who traveled from hundreds of miles away. In the decades since, Billings’s population has grown from about 67,000 to more than 110,000. But Lou Clayton, 82, who’s been clocking in at Taubert’s since 1989, says Billings is a small town dressed up like a big city. “We used to say, ‘You can tell when you get to Montana, because people wave at you on the two-lane roads,’ and that’s still true today.”
Billings is only a stone’s throw from the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness area, one of the largest in the country and home to Granite Peak, Montana’s tallest at 12,807 feet. Anglers enjoy the wide, braided waters of the Bighorn River to the east and the boulder-strewn Stillwater River to the west. The hills to the northwest are a playground for climbers, trail runners, and mountain bikers, and Yellowstone National Park is less than three hours away. Better yet, it’s all substantially more affordable than already discovered Montana adventure hubs like Missoula and Bozeman—the median house price in Billings is still under $200,000.
As an energy and agricultural center known for both its stunning rimrock formations and its oil refineries, Billings was a dark horse in this year’s competition. Locals were pleasantly surprised to see their scrappy city defeat scenic Jackson, Wyoming, in the final round.
Read more here.