Meagher County, Montana

kings hill
Image: J. Stephen Conn

Meagher County is located in the central Montana region and comprises White Sulphur Springs, the county seat, and the Martinsdale, Ringling, Checkerboard and Lennep communities.

The state covers a land area close to 3,000 square miles and has a small population of less than 2,000. The county got its name from Irishman Thomas Meagher, who spent time as acting governor after coming to the area with other prospectors and settlers looking for copper, lead, and silver.

White Sulphur Springs is the largest community and has plenty of accommodation options, restaurants, bars, museums and shopping. Lennep is in the more rural ranching areas to the south where there is little more than open countryside and a couple of guest ranches, and Martinsdale is the location of the Bair Family Museum, the former residence of Charles M. Bair, who was the largest sheep rancher in Montana at one time.

Ringling apparently got its name from one of the owners of the Ringling Brothers Circus, and the two main buildings in town are the somewhat contrasting bar and the Catholic Church.

Meagher County provides lots of great outdoor recreational activities like fishing, hiking, camping, biking, and wildlife watching. The county is virtually surrounded by the Little Belt and Big Belt Mountains, the Castle Mountains, and the Crazy Mountains, which all form part of the Lewis & Clark and Helena National Forests. There is a ranger district office of the national forest in White Sulphur Springs.

The Smith River flows through the center of the county and provides some prime fishing opportunities, as do various other spots in the region like the Bair Reservoir, Lake Sutherlin, Martinsdale Reservoir, Newlan Creek Reservoir, and the Musselshell River. Meagher County becomes a haven for skiers and snowmobile riders in winter, especially up at Kings Hill Pass where Showdown Montana Ski Area is located.

bank of martinsdale
Image: Robstutz

Visit the Meagher County Government website.

County Towns

Adjacent Counties

Special Events in Meagher County

Main Attractions in Meagher County

The Castle Museum

The Castle Museum in White Sulphur Springs was originally constructed as a home by Byron Sherman and now functions as a museum during summer months. The Castle is an impressive, late 1800s mansion with twelve, luxuriously-furnished rooms complete with hardwood floors, Belgian and Oriental rugs, and a bathroom made of Italian marble. The hand-cut granite blocks used to build the castle came from the local Castle Mountains.

After Sherman eventually left the castle and moved to California, it was eventually restored to its former Victorian glory by the Meagher County Historical Society.

A large carriage house was also built later on behind the castle to house various other historical items related to the region including carriages and sleds from ranchers’ barns, the old bank, a schoolroom, a stagecoach, horse-drawn fire engines, and various other mementos. The museum is open between May 15 and September 15.

Showdown Montana Ski Area

montana ski area

The Showdown Ski Area is located in the Little Belt Mountains and contains over 200 miles of marked snowmobile trails from the Kings Hill area, with various groomed and ungroomed cross-country trails. The resort is not short of snow with an annual average of 255 inches and has over 600 acres of skiable terrain across mountain elevations between 6,000 and 8,000 feet.

The area comprises over 30 trails and 3 lifts, as well as a beginner’s conveyor course and other lessons. Showdown Ski Area offers downhill ski trails of varied terrain, and to the North of Kings Hill Pass at Silver Crest, there is a Nordic ski area with 17 miles of cross-country ski trails, one ungroomed and three groomed.

Kings Hill Scenic Byway

Image: J. Stephen Conn

Also in the region of Kings Hill is a 71-mile stretch of US Highway 89 which runs north and south through Meagher County. This stretch is known as the Kings Hill Scenic Byway, and starts on US Highway 89 at its junction with US Highway 12, heading north from the junction through the Lewis and Clark National Forest to US Highway 87.

This is a highly scenic route as the name suggests, and you can take in mountain streams, hiking trails, and gravel roads leading off from the main highway and offer some great recreational activities. Here you can find ample fishing, floating, mountain biking, horseback riding, downhill skiing and snowmobiling, and camping opportunities amid the rugged and picturesque terrain.

White Sulphur Hot Springs

The Spa Hot Springs is found in White Sulphur based around a Motel that has comfortable rooms and a local, small-town Montana vibe.

There are 3 mineral hot spring pools — 2 outdoors and 1 indoor – which provide a clean, healthful, and revitalizing experience. The spring pools are surrounded by large murals which enrich the relaxation and enjoyment of the experience.