Butte to Missoula
If you are driving through Montana on your way to Missoula, chances are you will be traveling through Southwest Montana, so why not take just a little bit of time to explore the expansive history of the region? This itinerary leads visitors from Butte to Missoula, offering a variety of stops in between the two. Kicking off your tour in Butte, you will become familiar with the riches that copper mining brought to the area in a time when so many were obsessed with prospecting gold. This route also provides visitors with the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the natural beauty that calls so many to Montana. Then you will have the opportunity to dive into not only the mining history, but the agricultural history of the region as well. Take a chance, dig deeper into Southwest Montana. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
Today’s route will allow you to explore the Richest Hill on Earth. Butte, like so many other towns in Southwest Montana was born on the boom and bust, but here, copper was King. Diving into the town’s rich mining history, the first stop on today’s itinerary is the Copper King Mansion. This Mansion has long served the area as a prosperous bed & breakfast. Tours are also offered of the mansion; these tours give visitors a glimpse into the history of the mansion as well as a glimpse of what life may have been like back in the early 20th century. You will have noticed the large headframes that litter Butte’s hillside. These headframes mark the old entrances to the thriving mines of Butte. This leads us directly to our next stop, the World Museum of Mining. With a full morning under your belt, why not take the opportunity to get out and enjoy big sky country. Thompson Park is located just 11 miles south of town.
This adorable Bed & Breakfast located in the heart of Butte, was originally the home of Copper Baron W. A. Clark. Construction began on this 34-room Victorian mansion in 1884 and was completed in 1888. Visitors can stay in the mansion, or swing by for a guided tour throughout the summer.
Headframes litter the landscape of Butte. The “Orphan Girl” headframe is located in the World Museum of Mining and provides an opportunity to visitors to further explore the mining history of the area – underground. Join us for a tour of the mine, and explore the 66 exhibits found in the museum.
The historic Milwaukee Railroad serves as the park’s backbone with 25 miles of trails meandering through the area. This park is perfect for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, nordic skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking! With an 18-hole disc golf course and picnic areas, Thompson Park makes for the perfect day under the big sky.
As sad as it is to say goodbye, it’s time to hit the road! Today’s itinerary will lead you from Butte into Deer Lodge. As you follow Interstate 90 toward Deer Lodge, you will have the opportunity to once again stretch your legs and explore the wide-open spaces Montana is known for. Located just 15 miles before you get to Deer Lodge is the Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area. This is a great opportunity for a picnic, a peaceful walk, or amazing birding. Once you get to Deer Lodge, you will be met with one of the largest museum complexes in the state. The Old Prison Museum Complex houses five museums: Old Montana Prison, Powell County Museum, Frontier Montana Museum, Yesterday's Playthings and the Montana Auto Museum.
In 1911, the Warm Springs Ponds were actually built to mitigate the negative ecological effects of the robust mining in the area. Improvements were made to the ponds, filtration systems were added, and today the Wildlife Management Area provides superb habitat for a diverse population of birds and provides great fishing access.
The Old Montana Prison Complex houses five unique museums: The Old Montana Prison, Powell County Museum, Frontier Montana Museum, Yesterday’s Playthings, and the Montana Auto Museum. The museum offers both guided and self-guided tours through the facility. The complex boasts a significant collection, allowing everyone to find something of interest.
Lost Creek State Park rests just outside of Anaconda, providing a unique oasis and perfect place to get out and stretch your legs. The park features a waterfall, grey limestone cliffs and pink granite formations rising 1,200 feet above the canyon’s floor, watchable wildlife, walking paths, and camping opportunities.
Today marks your final day in Southwest Montana, but no worries your adventures are far from over. Still in the Deer Lodge area, the first stop on our list is Grant-Kohrs National Historic Site. The ranch carries on the traditions of the American West, commemorating the significant influence of the cattlemen in our rich history. The ranch provides countless opportunities for children and adults alike to dive into the history of what may or may not be haunted grounds. After enjoying life on the ranch, we are off to the races and ready to explore another mining town of Southwest Montana ... but not before we make a quick detour for lunch! Parkers’ Restaurant in Drummond is one of a kind and promises a unique and memorable experience for visitors. Now that we are all fueled up, it’s off to Garnet, Montana’s best preserved ghost town. Then it is off to Missoula!
ide open spaces, the hard working cowboy, his spirited cow pony, and vast herds of cattle are among the strongest symbols of the American West. Once the headquarters of a 10 million-acre cattle empire, Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site preserves these symbols and commemorates the role of cattlemen in American history.
At Parkers’ Restaurant, patrons will be met with genuine Montana hospitality. As you settle in amidst classic burger joint decor, you will be handed a three-ring binder with over 135 different burgers to choose from. Dine with the locals and enjoy some of Montana’s best beef. Open Tuesday through Saturday.
Garnet Ghost Town is the most intact ghost town Montana has to offer. As with any boom town, the inhabitants were primarily interested in the structure built beneath the earth’s surface to extract its riches. In turn, the buildings were built with haste and lacked a solid foundation. Uncover Montana’s rich mining history with a visit to Garnet.