Don’t get me wrong, I-90 is pretty nifty (I was once told off by a MT roads historian for suggesting it wasn’t) but if you stick to the I-90 corridor in Southwest Montana, then you are missing some of the best that the region has to offer. I say, follow the lesson that Lightning Mcqueen learned in Cars and take the road less traveled. Specifically, today, I’m talking about the Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway. The byway leaves the interstate at the Anaconda exit, passes through that historic industrial town, climbs the mountains to Georgetown Lake, and then descends into the Flint Creek Valley, wending its way through Philipsburg and Drummond before meeting up with the interstate again.
But why divert at all, you might ask. Well, aside from the spectacular scenery and the joy of driving on a two-lane highway. there are a ridiculous number of excellent things to do, to keep you entertained, if you are the sort of person who demands entertainment. Near Anaconda, take a diversion from your diversion, and head toward Lost Creek State Park, if the weather is good. Of course, Georgetown Lake is the crown jewel of the byway, and you’ll want to spend some time there. If it’s winter-time, then you’ll have to give Lost Creek a miss (it’s only open in the summer) and head instead for Discovery Ski Area, virtually on the shores of Georgetown Lake. Alternatively, if you find yourself snowless, you might want to take a diversion from your diversion once again to wander the ruins of Granite Ghost Town. And of course, no trip would be complete without a long meander in Philipsburg, the quintessence of a Southwest Montana small town. Candy, gemstones, beer, you can’t go wrong.