In 1906, Hardin, Montana was officially founded and has served as a central agricultural and trading hub ever since. Hardin can be found in the southeast corner of Montana off Interstate 90. It is actually the midway point between Seattle and Minneapolis and also between Billings and Sheridan! Its midpoint location makes it an active location to stop and fuel up and get out and stretch a bit. This area in Montana is bursting with historical riches some of which can be found at the Big Horn County Museum. This is an indoor/outdoor museum that displays historic buildings, vehicles, an old railroad depot and a gift shop. History also comes alive at the Jailhouse Gallery that is full of culture, crafts and art exhibits. A short 15 miles from Hardin, you’ll find the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. For the outdoor recreationalist, the Bighorn River is very close by and is a top destination for avid fly fisherman. This river also provides the city of Hardin with its water. Hardin is known as the “City with a Reason,” because it was expected to grow: the reason being because of its agricultural potential. Major crops grown in the area include wheat, barley, sugar beets, and hay. Big Horn County is additionally the 8th largest producer of beef in the United States. The big city of Billings is only 45 minutes away.
Climate and Growing Season for Agriculture:
The dominant contributor to the economy in the Bighorn Valley is agriculture primarily in beef cattle, sheep, barley, sugar beets, oats, hay, dry beans, and other irrigated crops. Big Horn County has an excellent climate, and the growing season is long. The northern part of the county has large areas of land mainly used as grazing lands. In addition, the areas are suitable for dry land farming, an industry that is rapidly being developed in this area. The lower portion of the Bighorn Valley has a continental, semiarid climate characterized by abundant sunshine, low relative humidity, and wide daily and seasonal variations in temperature. About half of the yearly precipitation falls in the late spring or early summer. The average growing season in the Hardin region is 150 days and increases the closer you move towards the mountains. The soil here is fertile and rich in nutrients. The availability to water and irrigation strongly supports agricultural production.
Local Area Attractions:
Little Bighorn Battlefield
This national monument is 15 miles southeast of Hardin and is famously where Custer took his last stand.
The Expedition of Lewis and Clark gives us a historical account of their journey through Montana, and at Pompey’s Pillar, you can view William Clark’s signature carved in stone. It is the only physical evidence left of the Expedition and will leave a lasting impression on you as well!
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation area
Roam an area over 120,000 acres and enjoy the breathtaking views of this canyon and its many ecosystems. Get a good feel for the land with over 17 miles of hiking trails ranging from short wanderings to dramatic overlooks. Bighorn Lake fills the bottom of the canyon and offers boating, kayaking, and canoeing. There are boat tours offered throughout the summer months through Hidden Treasure Charters. For the avid anglers, fish Bighorn Lake for walleye, brown and rainbow trout, yellow perch, carp, catfish, ling, and crappie. The Bighorn River is a blue-ribbon trout stream but is also home to 38 other species!
Standing at 525 feet high, the Yellowtail Dam backs up the Bighorn behind it for 71 miles creating space for other water sports such as water skiing and motor boating. The Dam provides a stunning view.
Pictograph Cave State Park
Come to contemplate the origins of humankind when they were prehistoric hunters. The three main caves, Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost, display hundreds of pictographs or rock paintings with the oldest rock art being over 2000 years old!
This vast acreage provides a wide array of hunting opportunities. Waterfowl, pheasants, ducks, geese, sand-hill cranes, turkey, and grouse are all game birds that you will find roaming your land. Enjoy hunting coyotes and other small varmints.
Premiere Blue-Ribbon Trout Fishing:
The Bighorn River is not only one of the best trout streams in Montana but is considered to be one of the finest in the lower forty-eight of the United States. That makes this nationally recognized trout stream a very popular destination spot for a Montana fly fishing trip. Be prepared to consistently pull out large fish as the brown trout average about 15 inches in length and the rainbow about 16 inches in length! The fertile and nutrient-rich waters allow the trout to grow quickly. In the first 13 miles below the Afterbay Dam, the Bighorn flows steady and cool, creating ideal conditions for substantial numbers of fish. These 13 miles are considered to be the best along the whole river, and it is estimated that 3000-5000 fish occupy every mile with proportions over 14 inches long. Choose a busy summer day and see dozens of rafts floating the river with more anglers fishing from the shore. The Bighorn River offers high quality fly fishing throughout the entire year, nonetheless. If you are brave enough to set out during the winter, you will not be alone as there is still consistent activity even in the dead of the cold months. The river is so consistent because of the high-quality hatches. Wade anglers and floaters fish well here, however, any boat can be used because of the lack of rapids. The trout fishing is phenomenal, yet, the river is home to 38 other species of fish. Keep it exciting and see how your angling skills are in this bountiful river.