Custer National Forest

Quick Facts

Custer National Forest


(406) 657-6200

Map Directions

Things To Do


The lands of the Custer National Forest and National Grasslands lie scattered across 20 counties in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Elevations range from less than 1,000 feet in the Sheyenne Grasslands to 12,799 foot Granite Peak, the highest in Montana. The vast distances across which this Forest is spread results in a very diverse landscape. Ancient sand dunes covered with grasslands, rugged badlands, densely wooded forests, and carpets of alpine wildflowers all await you. The forest encompasses about 1.3 million acres, with 345,599 acres that are Designated Wilderness. The Custer is well known for lake and stream fishing, and provides habitat for mountain goats, big horn sheep, elk, mule and white-tail deer, black bear, cougar, and moose. The Custer National Forest was formed in 1905, and has a rich cultural heritage. Ranging from the middle of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness to the western border of South Dakota, the Custer has more heritage sites than any other forest in the Northern Region. Views from Beartooth Scenic Byway are spectacular, as the road winds upward of 11,000 feet. The Beartooth Mountains are one of the crowning scenic glories of the Custer Forest, offering some of the best hiking and fishing around - and a scenic byway that is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Map of Custer Nat'l Forest

Latitude, Longitude: 45.507043, -106.519399



  • Bicycling

    There are numerous opportunities for dispersed recreation activities such as mountain biking, both on trails and cross-country.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    The Beartooth Highway, a National Forest Scenic Byway, traverses the mountains from Red Lodge to Cooke City, and the northeast entrance to Yellowstone Park. This highway climbs to the 10,947 foot elevation at Beartooth pass and passes through the lands of the Custer, Gallatin and Shoshone National Forests.

  • Camping

    There are a number of camp and picnic areas on the District, providing destination type use, and also serve as popular jumping-off places for day hikes into the Wilderness.

  • Fishing

    Stocked fishing ponds contain crappie, bass and rainbow trout.

  • Hiking

    There are numerous opportunities for dispersed recreation activities such as hiking, both on trails and cross-country.

  • Historic Sites

    The area is rich in archeology and paleontology. There are two classified National Landmarks on the District, the Castles and Capitol Rock.

  • Horseback Riding

    There are numerous opportunities for dispersed recreation activities such as horseback riding, both on trails and cross-country.

  • Hunting

    The area offers excellent antelope, mule deer, white-tail deer and turkey hunting.

  • Off Highway Vehicles

    There are some trails for OHV use. Please respect posted regulations.

  • Picnicking

    Numerous campsites and picnic areas offer facilities for day-users.

  • RVing

    Some campgrounds offer amenities for RV users.

  • Winter Sports

    Red Lodge Mountain Ski resort is also located on the District. In addition to downhill skiing, there are two ski touring trails that provide about 18 kilometers of cross-country skiing.



From Billings, follow Interstate 90 east approximately 60 miles to State highway 212 east. Follow State 212 for about 60 miles to reach the forest.

Phone Numbers


(406) 657-6200