Places to Visit: Butte, Montana

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Butte, Montana

Sometimes referred to as the “Richest Hill on Earth” Butte, MT. can be found about 130 miles northwest of Big Sky.

  • Butte has a rich historic past that provides the town’s character today.
  • Nestled in the Rocky Mountains along the Continental Divide, Butte is the entrance to 4 million acres public land.
  • Sitting at the cross roads of I-90 and I-15, Butte has the services and amenities to cater to the many travelers who pass this way.


Butte is known for its mining history. Miners and workers from all other world came to Butte to make their fortune. By 1920, Irish, Finns, Italians, Welsh, Cornish, Chinese, Serbs, and others all inhabited the town. The population at that time grew to about 100,000 residents.

Today, Butte still contains thousands of historic commercial and residential buildings from the boom times, which, especially in the Uptown section, give it a very old-fashioned appearance like a ghost town, with the many buildings and comparatively few people. A visit to Butte is a step back in time.


Butte, MT, lies in the southwest portion of Montana. It’s about a 2 hour drive to the Idaho border to the south down Interstate 15. Likewise, Missoula is about a 2 hour drive to the west down Interstate 90. Helena, the state capitol, is about 80 miles to the north of Butte along Interstate 15. Bozeman can be found 85 miles to the east.


Butte is a well used stop between destinations as travelers make their way north and south along Interstate 15 or east and west along Interstate 90. Because it is at the cross roads of I-90 and I-15, Butte has many lodging establishments to choose from. You can choose from Bed & Breakfasts, cabins, campgrounds, condominiums, guest ranches, hostels, hotels, motels, lodges and vacation homes.

From the community food co-op to large grocery stores, from drive inns to sit down dining, from fast food cafes to leisurely long dinners, you can find anything that your pallet desires in Butte.


Butte has wonderful shopping, great arts, interesting culture and spirited night spots. In addition, from Butte, you can access over 4 million acres of state and federal public land. From here you can enjoy every type of outdoor adventure imaginable.

Go fishing in the Big Hole River or take a hike in the Highland Mountains. In the winter there is skiing in Discovery Basin. There are also many scenic drives that take you through old ranching towns.


Butte’s historic character leads to a variety of wonderful, entertaining attractions. The following is just a sample listing.

The Berkeley Pit
The Berkeley Pit is a 1700 foot deep hole in the ground, nearly 3 miles in circumference, and as you stand on the viewing area, the far side is about a mile away. The Pit is what remains of a 30 year period of open pit mining, which began after WWII. When the mine closed in 1982, the underground pumps were shut off and the abandoned hole has slowly filled with extremely acidic water. Open late May through September. Admission Fee charged.

Granite Mountain Memorial
Near midnight on June 8, 1917, a fire broke out at the 2,400 foot level of the Granite Mountain mine. Fire, smoke, and gas claimed the lives of 168 miners. Thirty one survived. This memorial, built in 1996, features letters to families from the fallen miners, a reproduction of the story in the Butte newspaper, and the names of the miners who gave their lives.

Our Lady of the Rockies
There's no better place to get a bird's-eye view of Butte than from Our Lady of the Rockies. This half day trip winds up mountain roads high above town to "Our Lady."  The statue itself is similar in size to the Statue of Liberty.

Trolley Tours
The fastest and the most colorful way to learn about Butte is to tour the city on board the Trolley.

Various Museums
The World Museum of Mining, the Montana Tech Mineral Museum and the Mai Wah Museum and the Piccadilly Museum of Transportation are all located in Butte.

Historic Buildings
The Butte area is rich with historic mansions and buildings, many of which have been restored to their original splendor.

Getting Here

To get to Big Sky from Butte head west on I-90 until you reach Bozeman, approximately 85 miles. At Bozeman, take US Highway 191 south for another 45 miles.