We have visited the state of Montana several times on our long trips across the United States. Finding interesting towns like Butte has always been a favorite. We have stopped there once, mainly to see the famous mine, and plan to return someday to explore it thoroughly. With that in mind, we put together this list of things to do in Butte. I have a feeling our next visit could be longer!
With its high concentration of copper, Butte was once the richest mining town in Montana. Although the glory days of this mid-sized town are over, visitors can still feel the spirit of the Old West in Butte’s wonderful museums. In this post, we take a look at some of Butte’s attractions.
Here is our selection of the top ten attractions to visit when in Butte, Montana:
- The Berkeley Well
- World Museum of Mountains
- Mineral Museum
- Butte Anaconda National Historic District.
- Historic visits and the Old Mound wagon.
- Our Lady of the Rockies
- Old mill and gardens of Lexington
- The thermal springs of Renova
- Drilling of pipelines
- Home Pass
Read on to learn more about how to get the most out of your trip to this proud mining town.
Why you should visit Butte, Montana.
The main reason people visit Butte is to explore its fascinating mining past. In addition to many fine museums, Butte is home to authentic buildings from the Golden Cane period and mines that are open to the public. Although Butte is as large as Billings or Missoula, don’t worry about sacrificing comfort. Today, Butte has about 30,000 residents and is home to the main Montana Tech campus.
There are many world-class natural attractions near the city, such as Butte, just 2.5 hours north of Yellowstone National Park. For more information on visiting Yellowstone, see our previous article on Yellowstone’s Top 10 Attractions.
If you are interested in national parks, you should also consider the 4-hour drive from Butte to Glacier National Park. Refer to TripMemos post on the Glacier Park 3-day itinerary to better plan your trip to this area.
Top ten things to do in Butte, Montana.
It is not surprising that Butte’s most notable attractions are all related to its mountain heritage. Still, our list of the top ten sights in town includes some natural attractions.
1. the Berkeley pit
From the 1950s to the 1980s, miners mined an incredible 300 million tons of ore at the Butte Mine in Berkeley. As a result of this intensive mining, the 1,700-foot deep mine is now considered environmentally hazardous, with high concentrations of heavy metals. Local environmentalists hope their new stance will raise public awareness of the importance of environmentally friendly mining.
The best way to discover this natural attraction is to go to the Berkeley Mine observation booth for $2 per person. The bridge is generally open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from March to November. For more information about visiting the Berkeley Pit, visit Pitwatch.org.
2nd World Mining Museum
Located on the former site of the orphaned mine, the World Mining Museum covers more than 20 acres and contains dozens of authentic buildings, machinery and equipment. In addition to the many exhibits highlighting Butte’s industrial heritage, guests can also take a fascinating tour of the underground mine with a professional guide.
The World Mining Museum is open from April to October from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. General admission tickets cost $9 per adult and $5 per child, but these prices do not include underground tours of the mines. For more information, visit the World Mountain Museum website.
3. Mineral Museum
If you are looking for a fun and free attraction in Butte, put the Mineral Museum on your list. The Mineral Museum on the campus of Montana Tech explains why Butte’s geology is so suited to copper production. Although the museum focuses on native rocks, you’ll also find unique rock formations from remote places like India and Spain.
Admission to the Mineral Museum is free and the center is usually open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer. For more information about visiting the Mineral Museum, visit this link to the Montana Tech website.
4. The Butte Anaconda National Historic Center.
Most of the historic buildings in the area are in the Butte-Anaconda National Historic District, which includes much of downtown Butte, the town of Walkerville to the north, and the nearby Anaconda region. These are some of the sights you will find here.
Dumas Brothel Museum
Those interested in the seedy side of Butte’s past should visit the Dumas Bordello Museum. Surprisingly, this beloved red ghost lamp operated from the late 19th century until the 1980s, making it one of the oldest “eye sights” in the world.
For $10 at the door, discover the authentic exhibits where Dumas’ charming ladies dazzled Montana’s mighty miners. To learn more about the Dumas Brothel Museum’s schedule, visit the museum’s Facebook page.
Clarke Castle Historical Museum and Gallery
Of course, not everyone in Butte was underage or a prostitute. Over the years, many powerful copper magnates came to power, as evidenced by the mansions that still stand in the city center.
To find out how these “kings and queens of copper” lived, visit the museum and gallery at historic Clark Castle. This 19th-century French-style mansion was once owned by one of Butte’s elite mining dynasties and is now the city’s premier fine arts center.
Tickets to Castle Clark cost $7 per person for an open house or $10 for a guided tour. Times change throughout the year, so visit the Castle Clark Historical Museum website for more information.
May Wah Inc.
Although Butte is best known for its large Irish-American community, the town has also been an important center for Chinese immigrants. To learn more about this important aspect of Butte’s heritage, be sure to visit the well-preserved Mai Wah Society Inc.
The red brick building of the Mai Wah Society, which today displays dozens of Asian-American artifacts, was an important store for Chinese workers. Tickets to this museum cost $8 per adult or $5 per child. Don’t forget to visit the Mai Wa Society’s website during opening hours.
If you want to learn more about Butte’s Asian-American heritage, be sure to visit the equally historic Beijing Noodle House. The Beijing Noodle House opened in the early 1900s and is considered one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in the United States.
5th historical and trolleybus tour of old downtown Butte.
If you are short on time, book a fun walking tour or a mound tour. Both tours allow you to quickly discover the city’s main attractions.
Those interested in visiting the Butte should consult the Historical Adventures of Old Butte. This famous tourist company offers a general tour and two special tours that explore the Butte during Prohibition. General admission for these tours is about $20 per person. For more information, visit the website of Historic Adventures of the Old Butte.
If you are interested in the city’s trolley service, visit the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce website. On this two-hour tour, your local guide will tell you the fascinating stories behind famous places like Dumas Bordello and the King’s Copper Bow House. Tickets for the Butte Trolley cost $20 for an adult and $8 for a child.
6) Our Lady of the Rocky Mountains
At 90 feet, Our Lady of the Rockies is the tallest religious statue in the United States. Local electrician Bob O’Bill created his tribute to the Virgin Mary on East Ridge shortly after his wife recovered from cancer. Although the statue is clearly Christian, its builders hope it will serve as an inspiration to mothers around the world.
To visit this statue, you must book a bus tour on the Notre-Dame des Roches website. These visits are only offered between summer and fall and cost $18 per adult.
7. Old Lexington Mill and Gardens
At the intersection of East Granite and Arizona Streets is a historic park called Old Lexington Mill and Gardens. Although it is not an official tourist attraction, there are numerous informational signs and old mining trucks scattered throughout the area.
During the warmer months, people around Old Lexington Mill plant beautiful flower arrangements, so be sure to check them out while you’re in town.
8. Thermal Springs of Renova
An hour and a half drive southeast of Butte are the Renova Hot Springs, a surprisingly warm spot in the town of Whitehall. With an average temperature of 110-120° F, this public spring is sure to warm your bones and soothe your aching muscles.
A word of warning: brain-eating amoebas reportedly live in these hot springs, so keep your head above water. Also note that these springs are “optional.” The most popular time to visit Renova hot springs is from March to October.
9. crossing of pipelines
The 2,290-foot tunnel, known as Pipe Pass, was completed in 1909 and was part of the former extension of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Coast Railway. Although no trains run through Pipe Pass anymore, you can stop in front of this impressive feat of engineering for some amazing selfies.
Pipe Pass is officially part of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and is located about 15 minutes south of downtown Butte.
Pass of the 10th house
One of the most accessible trails on the Continental Divide is Homestake Pass south of Butte. Homestake Pass is more than 10 miles long and is known for its smooth surface and even smoother rock formations.
In preparation for your trek, read this information compiled by the Montana Wildlife Association.
Where can we stay overnight in Butte, Montana?
Because of Butte’s many attractions and proximity to Yellowstone, there are dozens of major hotels in town. Here are two well-known names, one near the airport and the other downtown.
Copper King Hotel and Conference Centre
A luxury hotel near Burt Mooney Airport is the three-star Copper King. A 10-minute drive south of downtown, the Copper King offers an amazing rustic atmosphere and impressive amenities, including a spa, a steakhouse and a swimming pool.
For more information about the Copper King Hotel & Convention Center, visit Booking.com.
Wyndham Butte’s Quinta
Visitors looking for affordable housing closer to Downtown Butte should investigate the Quinta in town. Located less than 8 miles from Downtown Butte, La Quinta offers a continental breakfast, pet-friendly rooms and access to an indoor hot tub.
For more information about La Quinta Inn & Suites in Butte, visit Booking.com.
Montana travel rule!
Honestly, it’s one of our favorite travel states! Open spaces, beautiful scenery and friendly people – what more could you want? We fell in love with Montana on our first visit and kept coming back. If you are like us and want to take a trip to Montana, come prepared. Here’s a link to our 37 Montana travel tips to help you get the most out of your trip.
And as always, if you know Butte well, leave a comment. We’d love to know what you think of this list. Can you add something we haven’t included? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Frequently asked questions
Is the Butte Montana worth a visit?
One of the few museums in the world located in an actual mine, it is a place where history comes alive. The many events, concerts and festivals held in Butte foster the kind of community ties Montana is known for. It is impossible to visit Butte without feeling nostalgic.
Why is the Butte Montana famous?
Butte began as a gold and silver mining camp in the late 19th century. At the turn of the century, the development of electricity and the industrialization of America led to a huge copper boom, and Butte flourished.
Is the Butte MT safe?
With a crime rate of 47 per thousand residents, Butte has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to any other community of any size – from the smallest to the largest. The odds of becoming a victim of a violent or property crime here are 1 in 21.
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