Pipestone OHV Area
Leave the pavement behind for this truly unique experience. Uncountable miles of trails connecting old mining roads await your next riding adventure! The varied terrain of the Pipestone OHV area (located along the Continental Divide) provides opportunities for all ability levels, from beginner to expert, on motorized off road vehicles, dirt bikes, and mountain bikes.
Visitors to the area may find that renting a RZR or other ATV is a great way to explore the vast trail network at Pipestone. Fun can be had simply going up the main road to the Ringing Rocks. For the more experienced bikers, veering off the main path and winding down single-track paths or flying up places such as the hill climb area may provide a challenging and rewarding riding experience. Tucked away are also hilly areas that provide jump and trick terrain.
The History of Pipestone OHV Area
Pipestone and its Trail History
Over the past 140 years, miners developed many of the roads into the area’s mountains to access their mining claims and haul timber which supported mining operations. In the latter half of the 1900s, the Forest Service started building roads to access timber, and soon recreationalists and other permittees were accessing the area. In the 1970s, recreational riding use increased in Pipestone, and has been popular ever since the invention and availability of ATVs. The first riding likely started on the old, abandoned roads since mining activities had essentially ceased in the area by that time. Overtime, more user-created trails were created acting as connections between the old roads. Today hundreds of miles of trails weave their way through the beautiful Southwest Montana landscape over hills, rocky roads, trees, and dirt paths.
Pipestone and its Hot Spring History
The closest town to the Pipestone area is Whitehall, Montana. However, this wasn’t always the case. According to legend, indigenous peoples would visit the springs under truce. When westerners seeking gold arrived in the area in the late 19th century, there were wickiups (indigenous North American dwellings) in the area. Around the time gold was discovered in Butte, John Paul, a previously indentured servant from Missouri, homesteaded the hot springs area in the 1860s. Soon after Milner’s Store, a small village, developed to support prospecting activities in the area, however, it did not last long. It is thought that in the 1870s Ms. Ollie Barnes (likely John Paul’s step-daughter) and her brother developed the natural hot springs further and built accommodations. The community, known as Pipestone, emerged and had a post office, hotel, guest house and barn. Later, the Northern Pacific Railroad began providing round trip access from Butte and the springs were providing respite and recreation for the miners of Butte. Continued prospecting and attendance at the hot springs contributed to the small community’s growth. Later, the post office would close and reopen as Pipe Stone Springs (1887-1928).
After Paul’s death in 1913, a group of Butte businessmen, including a member of the Alley family who served as an attorney for the Anaconda Copper Company, acquired the property and continued developing it. The springs were a popular place of recreation and were widely attended even through the Great Depression. After the highway (now Montana Highway 2) was completed in the 1930s other additions to the springs were added including a golf course.
The Alley family still owns much of the area surrounding the springs today. The resort was closed in 1963 and remains closed today. From the road you can still see remnants of the once popular and well-attended resort.
The original hot springs is no longer in operation or open to the public, however, if you are craving a warm soak head on over to Pipestone Village and Hot Springs Resort for lodging and to enjoy your own private hot springs pool out your back door!
Tips for Visiting Pipestone
Pipestone Area OHV Use
- Cell service is very limited, there are few bathroom facilities in the area, and the closest gas stations and restaurants are in Whitehall, Montana so it is recommended to plan accordingly.
- Please adhere to pack it in-pack it out principles and be fire smart.
- The trails and roads in this area are mixed use. Many riders (dirtbike, ATV, OHV) of varying abilities use the Pipestone trails. Additionally, passenger vehicles will likely be on the road with you on the way to the trails in the area and you may also come across people riding horses or mountain bikes. Be courteous and share the trails and road.
- Be sure to check local regulations before riding. For more information visit https://fwp.mt.gov/activities/off-highway-vehicles
The Old Pipestone Hot Springs
- Please observe the old Pipestone Springs from the road and respect the private property that it sits on.
Things To Do in the Area:
- Pipestone Village and Hot Springs
- Pipestone Ringing Rocks RV Park and Cabins – (406) 321-0434
Other Things to See & Do
- The Pipestone area is a great place to participate in some of the most popular outdoor recreation in Montana, including hiking, mountain biking, hunting, dispersed camping, climbing, and wildlife viewing.
- If you are a Cat or Griz fan and interested in a little ‘Brawl of the Wild’ history, Trophy Rock is located along I-90 and has a nice viewing pull out with a historical plaque. Tip: the westbound pullout provides a better view of the formation.
- Homestake Pass provides visitors with other riding and outdoor recreation opportunities.