Red Lodge, the county seat of Carbon County, is located in south central Montana, approximately 60
miles southwest of the city of Billings. The community is situated in a valley at the base of the Beartooth
Mountains, and is a gateway to Yellowstone National Park and the Absorka-Bearthooth Wilderness Area.
Residents and visitors are attracted to Red Lodge’s scenic beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities,
and western heritage. Red Lodge is home to a variety of residents, ranging from service industry
workers to second-home owners, from cowboys to outdoor enthusiasts. The diverse mix of residents,
visitors, and outdoor and cultural opportunities are all key components in the community identity of Red
The 2000 Census lists the population of Red Lodge at 2,177 people. As of July 2007, the population was
estimated to have grown to 2,449, an increase of 12.5%. The population of Red Lodge is nearly
exclusively white at 96.1%. American Indians comprise the next highest percentage of the population at
1.1%. In the 2000 census, the median age of residents in Red Lodge was 41.7 years, which was higher
than the national average of 35. Eighty-nine percent of residents have a high school degree, with 24%
having obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher. In 2000, there were a total of 1,415 housing units in the
community. Of the total housing units, 547 were single family, owner-occupied, with a median value of
$102,800. The median family income in Red Lodge in 2000 was $40,260. Of the 2,177 residents of Red
Lodge, 208 (9.7%) were below the poverty level (U.S. Census Bureau).
In its early history, the economy of Red Lodge was primarily concentrated on coal mining and other
resource extraction activities. The early economic activity led to the migration of Europeans to the
community. The economy of Red Lodge has been supported by agricultural activities throughout its
history as well. The community is surrounded by large mountain valleys that provide prime cattle
grazing opportunities. The economy of Red Lodge has largely transitioned from agriculture and
extraction activities to tourism, recreation, and retirement based activities.
Red Lodge is part of the greater Billings trade market area. “The relationship between Red Lodge and
the Laurel/Billings area is symbiotic. Billings area residents regularly visit Red Lodge because of its
charm and distinctive goods; Red Lodge residents shop in Billings for items not available locally or for
better prices. Red Lodge residents use medical services in Billings for more serious health care issues.
This regional relationship perpetuates Red Lodge’s chosen character” (Growth Policy, 6). This
relationship contributes to the tourism and recreational nature of the community’s economy, as many
of the visitors to Red Lodge are from the Billings area.
Birkeland, Brant. Design Guidelines As A Planning Tool. March 9 2009. Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
professional paper for the fulfillment of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree
Design Guidelines As A Planning Tool.
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
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