If there’s one thing I love about the Great Plains, it’s that it’s a completely underrated road trip destination. No matter which part of the region you’re exploring, you’ll get an intimate look at the rolling hills and amber waves of America’s heartland. That includes out west, on the Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana plains, where you might need to make the drive between Denver and Billings.
This route takes you along the western border of the Great Plains; you’ll drive northbound from Denver to Billings with the Plains stretching out on your right and the Rocky Mountains on your left. (It’s obviously the opposite if you’re traveling southbound from Billings to Denver.) No matter which direction you’re headed, it’s a beautiful drive, showcasing two incredible landscapes and where they meet. So if you are set on driving between Billings and Denver, and curious about what it will be like – and how long the drive takes – read on to plan your road trip
TL;DR: How long is the drive between Denver and Billings? The direct drive from Billings to Denver (or vice versa) is 555 miles (893 km) and should have a drive time of 7 hours, 50 minutes in normal traffic.
This post was originally published in July 2021, and was updated in June 2022 for the upcoming road trip season!
In this post, I promote travel to destinations that are the traditional lands of the hinono’eino’ biito’owu’ (Arapaho), Tséstho’e (Cheyenne), Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Ndé Kónitsąąíí Gokíyaa (Lipan Apache), psaalooké (Crow), and Niitsítpiis-stahkoii ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ) peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
Denver to Billings Interactive Map
Denver to Billings Drive Distance
When preparing the itinerary for your Denver to Billing drive, you might benefit from knowing the distance you have to cover to get to these two places. As the crow flies, the distance between Denver, Colorado, and Billings, Montana is approximately 454 miles.
For driving between Denver and Billings, it is about 555 miles along I-25 N.
Keep in mind that the total distance between these two cities varies depending on where you start in Denver and end in Billings.
Denver to Billings Drive Time
The second thing that will help you arrange your itinerary is to know how long it will take you to get from Denver to Billings.
The drive between Denver and Billings takes around 7 hours, 50 minutes if you make this entire trip without stopping and driving at 75 mph (the average speed limit on I-25). However, bear in mind that you’ll have to do at least one stop to refill your gas tank.
(The Billings to Denver drive takes the same driving time and covers the same distance as the one from Denver to Billings.)
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9 Stops to Make on Your Drive From Denver to Billings
The road trip from Denver to Billings is actually full of interesting and beautiful sights to visit. Here are some of the best stops to stretch your legs on your drive between Billings and Denver.
1. Rocky Mountain National Park
This is a great stop if you’re traveling with kids. Located in north-central Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is a wonderful stop to admire the flora and fauna of the place. The park boasts beautiful alpine scenery and a wide variety of wildlife with tiny diatoms, elks, and possibly even bears!
2. Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
Another great family-friendly stop is the Fort Collins Museum. Open since 2012, this is an interactive and immersive museum whose main gallery has long-term exhibits on subjects like astronomy and music. It’s a great place to learn and have fun at the same time through their hands-on and collections-based exhibits that tell the stories of Northern Colorado.
3. Wyoming State Museum
The Wyoming State Museum is an excellent option to learn about the state’s history. Established in 1895 in Cheyenne, the museum houses artifacts and collections covering Wyoming’s history from its earliest beginnings. There’s also a cute gift shop for souvenirs to keep learning about Wyoming’s culture and history.
4. Ayres Natural Bridge Park
Ayres Natural Bridge Park is nestled in the bottom of a stunning red-rock canyon. This beautiful park houses one of only three natural bridges in the United States with water beneath. If you enjoy history bites, you’ll be surprised to know that the Indigenous People who first inhabited these lands believed an evil spirit lived below this bridge.
5. Tate Geological Museum
If dinosaurs are your thing, you’ll love the Tate Geological Museum. Founded in 1980, it is one of a small number of geology and paleontology museums in Wyoming. The Tate houses a collection of over 6000 fossil and mineral specimens, including dinosaurs and Dee the Mammoth, an 11,600-year-old Columbian Mammoth who lived in the American West during the Ice Age.
6. Teapot Rock
It’s possible you might know this place for the Teapot Dome Scandal. But, setting aside the political issues, this is a great stop to admire the geological processes of nature. Located in Natrona County, Teapot Rock is a sedimentary rock formation that used to be shaped like a teapot before its distinctive features were eroded by windstorms.
7. T-Rex Natural History Museum
As the name suggests, the T-Rex Natural History Museum is a museum dedicated to the greatest predator, the tyrannosaurus. Located in Ranchester, the museum houses dinosaurs and ancient mammal species that have been dug up in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota. The best of all is that there’s a massive T-Rex skull and you can take a picture with it!
8. Custer Battlefield Museum
For the history buffs out there, the Custer Battlefield Museum is a stop you can’t miss. This museum is dedicated to promoting the history of the Battle of the Little Bighorn and the Western Migration. Its exhibitions feature the largest collection of David F. Barry photographs, war artifacts, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Peace Memorial.
9. Pictograph Cave State Park
This is one of the best stops of the Denver to Billing drive. Pictograph Cave State Park is an area of three caves, Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost, located in Montana. Back in prehistoric times, they were home to generations of hunters who documented their lives through rock paintings. The oldest rock art in Pictograph cave is over 2,000 years old and is still visible!
Other Tips for Your Drive Between Denver and Billings
Now that you know the basics of the drive and are inspired to make a few stops, here are some final tips to help you finish planning your road trip:
- The route from Denver to Billings takes you through three states: Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana.
- The two biggest cities along the route from Denver to Billings are Casper and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
- The halfway point between Denver and Billings is Casper – it’s literally exactly halfway!
- Casper is also the best place for an overnight stop if you decide to make the almost eight-hour drive from Denver to Billings across two days.
- There are several rest stops on the northbound drive from Denver to Billings: Poudre, Chugwater, Dwyer Junction, Orin Junction, Kaycee, Sheridan, and the Christiansen-Graham Rest Area.
- There are plenty of gas stations and truck stops along I-25 if you need fuel, toilets, snacks, or other services.
Should You Fly Between Denver and Billings Instead?
While road trips are always a fun idea, you might be wondering if you are better off flying from Denver to Billings. So here’s the answer.
Time-wise, flying from Denver to Billings is certainly convenient as it takes about 70 minutes and covers a 420-miles distance, whereas driving between Billings and Denver takes about eight hours and covers a 555-miles distance.
Regarding the price, there’s little difference between driving or flying. The cheapest plane ticket costs $200 for a round trip, and gas for a round trip costs about $135.
However, unless you’re time-constrained, a drive between Denver and Billings is still highly recommended to see places you wouldn’t otherwise. While most of these spots might not be on your bucket list, they are still beautiful and historically relevant (like Pictograph Cave!), which makes them worth visiting.
If you’re driving up from Santa Fe to Denver before onto Billings, be sure to read my guide for the drive between Santa Fe and Denver too!
Have other questions about the drive between Billings and Denver? Let me know in the comments!
Don’t forget: join our Great Plains Travel Tips group for even more travel inspiration!