High above the city, overlooking the land
he loved, lies Yellowstone Kelly. Warrior.
Through the years, his gravesite has
been the site of abuse and neglect.
Lacking definition or protection, the site
currently opens up opportunities for
vandalism and vehicle encroachment.
The end goal of this project is to create
a place of respect and honor for
Yellowstone Kelly and link this site with
the beautiful park, trails, and views in the
surrounding Swords Rimrock Park.
Throughout the design process, the
three major aspects of Kelly’s life:
Warrior, Veteran and Scout provided
a powerful statement. To honor his
contributions in each area, 3 interpretive
nodes were incorporated into the
design. These nodes will serve as
outdoor ‘rooms’ situated between berms
that define the space while discouraging
vehicular access across the site. Rock
walls, reminiscent of the rimrock cliffs
they sit upon, will define the perimeter
of each node. Patrons donating to the
restorative fundraising effort can be
recognized by having their names
mounted upon these walls.
To announce the entrance to this special
place, metal wind pipes will define the
space surrounding Kelly’s gravesite.
These pipes will be situated to take
advantage of the natural breezes by
providing a gentle ‘sighing’ as visitors
pause at the overlook. The subtle music
from these pipes will be constantly
changing based on wind speed and
direction and encourage visitors to
return to the site at various times to
experience a unique and ever-changing
Initial Site Concept
How Do I Get There?
Who is buried in Yellowstone Kelly’s tomb? Hint: Not Ulysses S. Grant. Where is Yellowstone Kelly’s tomb? Hint: It is not a tomb, just an inauspicious concrete crypt in Swords Rimrock Park overlooking downtown Billings. To get there, drive to the trailhead east of the airport and then walk or drive one mile along the Rims toward MetraPark. The gravesite is on the Heritage Trail, 23 miles of paved paths that snake through Billings. The Billings Chamber is a key player in developing this trail system that benefits residents and helps attract businesses and tourists.
Unfortunately, the neglected Yellowstone Kelly gravesite is an embarrassment to our community and the memory of the veteran buried there. If properly redeveloped, this historic monument could become a must-see destination along the Heritage Trail system. For these reasons the Chamber decided to make the renovation of the gravesite a top priority.