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Pictograph Cave State Park

2300 Lake Elmo Drive
Billings, MT 59105
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  • Description - Pictograph Cave State Park

    Pictograph Cave State Park is located southeast of Billings, Montana along the continuation of a sandstone cliff line that forms an impressive natural boundary and characterizes the valley. Two of the three caves that define the site complex contain evidence of habitation dating back over 4500 years ago. The pictographs that give the park its name date from over 2200 years ago (Billings Gazette 1995).   Located just 6 miles south of Billings, the Pictograph, Middle and Ghost cave complex was home to generations of prehistoric hunters. Over 30,000 artifacts have been identified from the park. A short paved trail allows you to view the rock paintings, known as pictographs, that are still visible in Pictograph Cave, the largest of the three. Interpretive signs tell the story of Montana's first professional archaeological studies and excavations. This site is listed as a National Historic Landmark. The location is considered to be one of the most significant archaeological sites in Montana, standing with the Ulm Pishkun, Valley of the Chiefs, Mill Iron and the Anzick Site as providers of insight into the prehistoric culture of the region. A detailed archaeological survey and excavation took place between 1938 and 1941, at which time the project was abandoned due to the start of WWII. Notable finds at the site include 'barbed harpoon points of the Eskimo culture, made of caribou horn' (Malloy 1933). The caves also contained the graves of nine individuals and over 30,000 artifacts.

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