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Garnet Range Back Country Byway
Scenic Drives > Garnet Range Back Country Byway (MT) 
Location
40 miles east of Missoula, Montana.
 
Description
The 12-mile-long Garnet Range Back Country Byway climbs 2,000 feet through the scenic Garnet Range to historic Garnet Ghost Town. Thanks to extensive preservation efforts, the 30 buildings in this former gold mining town look much the same as they did in 1895.
 
Directions
From Missoula, drive about 9 miles east on Interstate 90 and exit at State Highway 200. Continue traveling east on Highway 200 about 23 miles to the clearly marked turnoff to Garnet. This road is the start of the Garnet Range Back Country Byway, which leads directly to the ghost town.
 
Visitor Activities
Scenic drives, hiking, historic site, interpretation, geologic sightseeing, wildlife viewing, plant viewing, birdwatching, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.
 
Special Features
The rounded slopes of the Garnet Range hide evidence of the geologic upheavals that created an interior laced with enough gold to create a stampede in the 1860s. The key to Garnet’s gold and minerals lies in the area’s granite, which cooled in fractures within sedimentary rocks, causing quartz and gold to crystallize into distinct veins. Rock weathering then sent gold flakes into local streams—and ultimately into the pans of eager prospectors.
   
Montana’s most intact ghost town, Garnet—named for the garnet crystals frequently found with gold—endures, along with the spirits of the rugged gold miners who once carved a community into the heart of the Garnet Mountain Range. In 1898, some 1,000 people called Garnet home; by 1905, only 150 remained. Today, Garnet’s fame lies not in its gold, but in the rich history of the town.
 
Permits, Fees, Limitations
There is a day-use fee at the Ghost Town.
 
Accessibility
Restrooms are wheelchair-accessible.
 
Camping and Lodging
During the winter, two rustic cabins at the ghost town can be rented for overnight stays. Contact BLM for more information. Other nearby lodging can be found at the Bearmouth Chalet, located at the Bearmouth exit off Interstate 90 (about 1 mile east of the intersection of the byway with Interstate 90), and in Missoula and Drummond (about 10 miles east of the intersection of the byway with Interstate 90). The Bearmouth Chalet also has RV facilities.
 
Food and Supplies
There are no commercial facilities at Garnet Ghost Town; however, tour maps and limited sales items are available at the visitor center. The nearest food and supplies are in Drummond or Potomac, about 12 miles east of Missoula on Interstate 90.
 
First Aid
The nearest hospital is in Missoula.
 
Additional Information
Travel on the Garnet Range Back Country Byway is limited to over-the-snow travel methods (i.e., no wheeled vehicles) from January 1–April 30. A 32-mile network of trails called the Garnet National Winter Recreation Trail is accessible from Garnet Ghost Town. The trails are open from January 1–April 30 for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, with warming shelters provided along some of the trails. The visitor center at Garnet Ghost Town is open daily from June–September, and on a limited basis during the rest of the year. Maps and additional information are available from BLM.
 
Contact Information
BLM - Missoula Field Office
3255 Fort Missoula Road
Missoula, MT 59801
Tel: (406) 329-3914

Garnet Range Back Country Byway Map


Garnet Ghost Town

During the winter months, Garnet Ghost Town is an appealing destination for cross-country skiers and snowmobilers. (Travel Montana)

 
Last updated: 10-23-2009