Garnet Mountain Range in Montana

Garnet Mountains


The Garnet Mountain Range, located in western Montana, is more then another beautiful western mountain range, it is home to a scenic byway that reveals amazing vistas as it leads you back in time to one of the most well preserved ghost towns in Montana.

  • Visit the Garnet Ghost Town for an interactive step back in time.
  • The Garnet Mountain Range is the perfect day trip from Missoula.
  • Explore 55 miles of trails set up just for snowmobilers.
  • Drive the Garnet Scenic Byway for amazing scenic vistas.

Overview

The rounded mountain tops of the Garnet Mountain Range, just 45 miles east of Missoula, MT, aren't the highest or most striking mountains in the west, but they still manage to tower above what they call 'mountains' out east.

While recreational activities in the Garnet Mountains mirror those found throughout the west with fishing, hiking, biking, camping, hunting, and winter sports, what sets these mountains apart is history.

The gold mining history of the range is preserved at the Garnet Ghost Town, a must-see along your tour of the area. The12 mile scenic byway that climbs 2,000 ft through evergreen forests to reveal fantastic views of the breathtaking Mission Mountains is the perfect lead up to your visit to the ghost town.

Location/Information

The Garnet Mountain Range is located 45 miles east of Missoula. From Missoula, take I-90 east to Hwy 200 east. Take a right on Garnet Range Road. This takes you to the scenic byway which leads to the Garnet Ghost Town.

Bureau of Land Management is the primary managing body the of the Garnet Mountains. Contact them at (406) 329-3914 with any questions or for information about maps and permits.

Activities

While the summer months offer plenty of hiking, biking and camping opportunities the Garnet Mountain Range is the outdoor adventurer's winter recreational heaven. Over 55 miles of well groomed snowmobile trails are the perfect way to visit the Garnet Ghost Town in the winter.

Summer Activities

The lush forests and mountain streams that make up the Garnet Mountains provide a great backdrop for summer recreation. Practice your cast in one of the streams or hike your way up to Old Baldy, 7,511 ft, the highest peak in the range.

Hiking
Ten miles away from the Garnet Ghost Town you will find the 11,580 acres of the Wales Creek Wilderness Study Area (WCWSA). Steep drainages filled with lodgepole pine and douglas fir will guide you through this area as you climb to 7,000 ft. With so much acreage the hiking possibilities are endless. Make a weekend out of it and pitch a tent for a bit of camping. Just make sure you are half a mile away from the ghost town as camping any closer is prohibited.

Biking
The BLM maintains over 30 miles of back country roads and trails that cut through the Garnet Mountain Range, opening up at multiple points for fabulous scenic views. Your best guide for trails is the Garnet Mountain Bike Trail Map found at the Missoula library or you can contact the BLM for further information.

Fishing
The Blackfoot River, made famous by the book, “A River Runs Through It” (or was it Brad Pitt), holds up to its acclaimed fame. Start at Elk Creek, just two miles northeast of the ghost town and follow it a short distance to where it empties into the Blackfoot. Cast away for some rainbow and brook trout. Don't forget your fishing permit, obtained from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks or stop in one of Missoula's many fly shops.

Hunting
You'll find big game a plenty in these mountains. Try your luck at a elk, moose or even a black bear. Contact the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks for seasons, regulations, and permits.

Scenic Drives
The Garnet Range Backcountry Byway is a 12 mile journey through the beautiful Garnet Mountains. Gaining 2,000 ft in elevation the road opens up to reveal amazing vistas of the Mission Mountains, Swan Valley and the Bob Marshal Wilderness before finally arriving at the historic Garnet Ghost Town. This scenic drive is open in the summer months but closes in winter. Winter access is limited to snowmobiles and cross-country skiiers.

Winter Activities

Sledders unite in the Garnet Mountains! From Jan.1 to April 30th the BLM maintains the Garnet Winter Recreational Trail, with 31 miles of trail for winter recreation and 55 miles of well groomed sledding trails. If you become a bit chilled, take a rest at one of the warming huts that are provided along the trail.

Garnet Ghost Town
A great place to visit in summer or winter. Settled in 1895 after miners discovered vast deposits of gold, silver, and copper laced throughout this mountain landscape. Thinking ahead and working together, the town of Garnet formed one of the first labor unions. With upwards of 1,000 people at its peak, Garnet was a very prosperous mining town.

Now, over hundred years later, the Garnet Ghost Town Preservation Association works hard to preserve and maintain the historical structures for our modern day curiosity. If your in the area on June 21, spend the day at the Garnet Days Festival and try your luck at gold panning or take one of the interpretive hikes.

In the winter, snowmobile in, as the access road is closed to other traffic, and camp at one of the two rental cabins.

  • Summer: Open 7 days a week, 10am to 5pm
  • Winter: Viewing is allowed but buildings are closed.
  • Fees: Adults (15 and up) $3.00
  • Contact: Call 406-728-1695 for more information

Fun Facts

Garnet Mountain is ironically not even one of the mountains that form the Garnet Mountain Range.


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