Pictograph Caves

Pictograph Caves

2,100 years old with 30,000 artifacts recovered

The Pictograph Caves include a 23-acre area of three caves (Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost caves) located 5 miles just outside of Billings.

Research and excavation of the three caves began in 1937, and they were the site of some of Montana’s first professional archeological studies. Over 30,000 artifacts have been identified, with at least 20,000 animal remains recovered from the site. Species range from large mammalian species, including bison and elk, to various species of reptiles and amphibians and birds. The presence of these remains result from human predation, processing and consumption as well as non-human (carnivores and raptors) predation and individual species who lived and died in and around the site.

Native American paintings known as pictographs are still visible in Pictograph Cave, which is the largest of the three caves. The pictographs are thought to be between 200 and 2,100 years old. However their interpretations are still debated over. The oldest pictograph is that of a turtle, radio-carbon dated to be approximately 2,100 years old. These pictographs are paintings of animals, warriors, and even rifles that document the story of the Native Americans of the area for thousands of years.

The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, and is a Billings Tourism attraction.

Let us show your group this National Historic Site.

pictorgraph caves state park Billings Montana
This rendition includes an artist’s redefinition of the original cave painting defined to bring out the faded Native American artifact.