Explore this Ghost Town park-to-park route

This route at a glance: Step back in time to the frontier and explore Montana’s ghost towns. On your way from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone National Park, you’ll walk through forgotten towns of the past while exploring Montana’s rich history.

Duration: 3 days


Begin your journey on MT-83 from West Glacier with a stop in the charming town of Bigfork. Take in gorgeous views of Flathead Lake, but make time to shop at the town’s upscale art galleries, upscale boutiques, and fine restaurants. Continuing south on MT-83, enter the Seeley-Swan Valley. There are many recreational opportunities on the valley chain of lakes including Swan Lake, Holland Lake, Seeley Lake, Lake Placid, and Salmon Lake State Park.

After a refreshing time on the lakes, it’s off to the Ghost Town’s first stop, garnet ghost town. Garnet is a historic mining town with over 30 preserved buildings. From 1862 to 1916, millions of gold were taken from the Garnet area. Many believe there are more available.

Garnet is a historic mining town with over 30 preserved buildings.


Start your day in Phillipsburg, an 1890s mining town turned National Historic District. Quaint shops dot the walking tour, with a must-stop at the Sweet Palace. “The Largest Candy Store in the West” offers 1,000 candies and free fudge and taffy tastings daily. Try prospecting Sapphire Gallery and don’t forget to visit the Granite County Museum and Mining Exhibit and the Ghost Town Hall of Fame.

Nearby, you have to stop at Granite Ghost Town State Park. At the time, it was the richest silver mine in the world at $40,000,000, which might never have been if a telegraph from the east had not been delayed. (Access is over a rough road which may not be suitable for all vehicles or travellers).

Continue to Anaconda in Deer Lodge National Park, the town that began when Butte’s Anaconda Mining Company needed a smelt for its copper ore. Operations were suspended in 1980, but “The Stack” remains a landmark. Watch a show at Washoe Theater, a 1936 movie theater with Art Deco furnishings and murals. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1892, the history of the place is well worth a visit.

Phillipsburg is an 1890s mining town turned into a National Historic District.

Phillipsburg is an 1890s mining town turned into a National Historic District.

The last stop is Fairmont Hot Springs Resort with four thermal pools, two mineral pools and a slide. Dinner is served in the Waters Edge Dining Room and a nightcap, if you feel like it, can be enjoyed in Whiskey Joe’s Lounge. One option is to continue to Butte for one night. Check out the Spooks and Spirits Haunted Tour and the Dumas Brothel Tour. It is the oldest brothel in the United States


Travel it Pioneer Mountain Scenic Drive with a stop at crystal park. Rockhunders and others will enjoy searching for scattered quartz crystals in this National Recreation Area.

Next stop is history Bannack State Park with over 60 structures preserved. Start at the Visitor Center for a full briefing on this site which was Montana’s first major gold discovery in July 1862. Arrive late morning with a reservation for the picnic tables and shelters available for visitors. groups.

End your day at Nevada City, a stagecoach stop from the 1860s, and Virginia-City, who emerged from discovery of gold at Alder Gulch. Virginia City was the territorial capital of Montana for 10 years until the gold ran out. You’ll discover nuggets of history as you shop and dine in an 1860s atmosphere. Both towns have been restored and more than 150 buildings have been certified authentic by the Montana Historical Society. Catch a show at the Opera with the Virginia City Players or a performance by the Brewery Follies Players at Montana’s first brewery, HS Gilbert Brewery.

Continue on US 287 to West Yellowstone, your gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Along the way, stop at Earthquake Lake and its informative visitor center overlooking this eerie lake. To the west, Yellowstone stops at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center to see wolves and bears native to this area and at the historic Eagle Store for a must-have souvenir.

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