BLM’s annual Garnet Day brings ghost town to life with fun and games

Media Contact
David Abrams

MISSOULA, Mont. — The sights, sounds and smells of a 19th-century Montana mining town will come back to life during this year’s family-friendly Garnet Day June 22 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The annual event, which brings a flurry of activity to the now-dormant ghost town 40 miles east of Missoula, is hosted by the Bureau of Land Management and the Garnet Preservation Association and is a tribute to those who lived, worked, and panned for gold in the Garnet Mountains.

This year, Montana pioneer impersonator Jennie Pak will give a presentation at 1 p.m., portraying Garnet resident Jennie Starr Adams telling tales about the town. Music throughout the day will be provided by the Rocky Mountain Meadowlarks and Old Time Fiddlers & Accordion Players.

Other activities on the day’s schedule include a wool-spinning display, gold panning (for a nominal fee), various old-fashioned games for children, and a pie auction. The day's highlights for all ages also include a watermelon-eating contest, free sarsaparilla, and taffy. Lunch will also be available for purchase on site.

Visitors will be charged the standard usage fee for Garnet of $10; no admission is charged for those 15 and younger. Parking is very limited, so carpooling is recommended. Because of limited parking, you may have to walk farther than normal to get to the town’s activities. For those needing assistance, a shuttle service will be provided from the main parking lot to the town’s main street.

The day’s events are designed to give families a fun, wild-west experience in one of Montana’s most intact ghost towns. More than a century ago, Garnet was an active gold-mining town, but after a fire destroyed many of the buildings and as the gold became more difficult to mine, the once prosperous town slowly went into a deep sleep until its last full-time resident passed away in 1947. The ghost town is now publicly owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management’s Missoula Field Office.

To reach Garnet from Highway 200, turn south on the Garnet Range Road between mile markers 22 and 23 and travel about 11 miles to Garnet Ghost Town. Visitors using I-90 should take the Bearmouth or Drummond exit, then take the Frontage Road to Bear Gulch. Garnet is 10 miles north on Bear Gulch Road. This route is steep, narrow, and rough. It is not recommended for cars, vehicles pulling trailers or RVs.

For more information on the event, contact the BLM’s Missoula Field Office at (406) 329-3914.