This railroad destination point turned farming and ranching community is home to just over 100 residents, and is recognized by the four iconic grain elevators scraping the sky. Despite the small number of folks who call this place home, the town sustains a school and a post office.
For years, friends and family in Rapelje gathered at The Stockman Cafe for good food and good company, and to welcome visitors for events like 24 Hours of Rapelje—a USA Cycling sanctioned endurance mountain bike race held every June. Years back, when the cafe was on the brink of shuttering someone suggested the bike race idea. One skeptical resident said that was “the second dumbest idea” they’d ever heard of, but for over a decade mountain bikers descended on Rapelje the third weekend in June every year to ride the scenic hills, gullies and pastures—and dodge the occasional interference from cattle that wandered too close to the course—for the 24-hour race that kept the Stockman Café alive. Eventually the racers lost access to the land and the bike race couldn’t continue. The Stockman Café has since closed down, but that sort of thing doesn’t sit right with residents—the doors closed on the heart of their community—so in true, Montana, small-town fashion, efforts are underway to open the beloved café up again.
Northeast of Rapelje, Hailstone National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most productive waterfowl areas in central Montana, perfect for birding and hiking. Southeast of town Halfbreed National Wildlife Refuge offers a sanctuary for wildlife and is managed as a “closed property,” but hiking and wildlife viewing are permitted among the native prairieland.