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The Best Things to Do in Butte, Montana

People visit Butte for a variety of reasons, whether it is to take in the rich history of the town or the picturesque landscape that surrounds it. As the fifth-largest city in Montana, visitors can be ensured there will be no shortage of things to do in Butte.

Whether you are coming to spend a few hours or a few days, you will have plenty to do, so continue reading to discover 20+ fun things to do in Butte, Montana.

Best Things to do in Butte

Butte-Silver Bow montana

10 Best Tours in Butte, Montana

1. Horseback Riding  

Enjoy the great outdoors and experience the western heritage and cowboy lifestyle on a horseback trail ride. There are numerous outfitters in the Butte area that can set you up on a horseback trail ride.

Horseback tours have a variety of options in the Butte area. Shorter rides allow visitors to enjoy time on a horse and catch a glimpse of some of the most beautiful places in the Butte area.

If a short two-hour ride isn’t enough for you, look for trail ride options that have meals (breakfast and lunch options are particularly popular), or even rides that offer overnight camping. Most outfitters require helmets for kids and recommend helmets for adults.

2. Hunting Adventure 

Montana Professional Hunters is one of the most popular hunting outfitters in the Butte area. This company has been providing guided hunting trips for visitors to Butte since the 1980s.

What makes this guiding company so popular is its access to special use permits in some of the most sought-after hunting locations on National Forest lands, BLM Lands, Montana State lands, and private property.

Montana Professional Hunters limit the number of hunters they accommodate each year so that they can provide the best quality experience for each of their customers.

Mule deer is the most popular hunting experience Montana Professional Hunting offers. However, ask about their opportunities to hunt elk, bison, antelope, whitetail deer, black bear, and a variety of game birds.

3. Fishing

fishing

Fly fishing is almost a religion in Montana. Check out Tom and Chris Fishing Guide Service in Butte for an amazing fishing experience.

Tom and Chris Fishing Guides offer fly-fishing around Butte, along with float fishing on the Jefferson, Madison, Missouri, Big Hole, Beaverhead and Yellowstone Rivers. They also have lake fishing trips to Wade, Cliff, and Clark Canyon Lakes.

4. Zip Line Tour

Ziplining is one of the hottest, new experiences in the Butte area. Montana Zipline Adventures is the best spot to get your thrills on a zipline.

Montana Zipline Adventures has 7 different courses, ranging in length from 650 feet to 2,100 feet. This is a pretty fast-paced adventure near Butte. Larger groups can expect to spend a couple of hours.

For families and small groups, this is a great activity to fill an hour or two of time. Montana Zipline Adventures is located just outside of Anaconda. From their location, you’ll enjoy the amazing views of the Pintler Wilderness while you fly down the lines.

5. Guided Lewis & Clark Caverns Tour

By far, one of the most popular and interesting state parks in Montana is the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. This state park is just a short 45-minute drive east of Butte and is well worth the time.

The State Park has plenty of activities and trails to keep you busy, but the real reason to check out this park is the caverns. Starting at the end of May and running through September, the park staff give guided tours through the caverns.

These tours are the only way to enter the caverns, but the tours are certainly worth it.

The State Park offers two tours, a 2-mile tour that takes about 2 hours and provides much of the history and geology of the caverns.

The shorter tour is just a half-mile long and only about 45 minutes. Both tours are on paved pathways that are lighted, so you’re not wandering through the dark.

lewis and clark caverns campground

6. Mountain Biking- Hiking

With so many trails around Butte, it’s no wonder that hiking, mountain biking, and even trail running are some of the most popular activities in Butte.

Linked Adventures, a local bike-hike-run store in Butte offers customized tour and ride planning for riders of every skill level. They can even provide transportation for point-to-point and overnight tour options.

7. Climbing Adventure

Rock climbing is one of those adventures that lots of us dream of but may not have the equipment or knowledge to give it a shot.

The Peak outfitters make a living of helping visitors to Butte experience their bucket list experiences. One of their most popular tour options is their rock-climbing tours.

Their knowledgeable staff will create a custom tour for you so that you have the best possible experience whether you spend your weekends climbing or you want to give a new adventure a chance.

8. Headframe Spirits Tour

For the visitor to Butte that may not be interested in outdoor recreational activities, a great tour option is at the Headframe Spirits Distillery.

The folks here have been distilling some of the best gin, whiskey, and vodka you can find in Montana. The micro-distillery is located in the historic Schumacher Building so while you’re having your guided tour of the operations, you’ll also enjoy the beauty of this building.

Following your tour, enjoy some of the Headframe spirits in their tasting room.

9. Montana ATV Adventures Tour

ATVs are a great way to enjoy some of the more remote places around Butte. Montana ATV Adventures Tour puts you in an ATV on trails along the Continental Divide.

Your tour guide will show you interesting sites like old mining camps and ghost towns.

10. Old Butte Historical Tours

This is one of the most popular tours in Butte. The Old Butte Historic tour is a family-friendly walking tour around the historic Uptown Butte.

The tour was created by a dedicated group of local historians and business owners that wanted to preserve the history of their community. The tour looks at both interiors and exteriors of buildings and covers Butte’s history from the 1890s to the 1950s.

The 10 Best Things to Do in Butte, Montana

1. Outdoor Adventure

outdoor adventure

Though Butte is most well-known for its mining history and natural resources like copper, gold, and silver, today it is equally well known for its access to great outdoor recreation. You’ll find plenty of recreational activities in town and around Butte.

Popular hiking and biking spots around Butte are the BA&P trail and the Copperway trail. Both trails meander through town and provide access to much of the community as well as great views of the historic headframes left from the city’s mining history.

The Big Butte Open Space also has some great trails to hike, including the trail to the “M” that is on the hillside overlooking the city. While these are some of the most popular hiking and biking trails around Butte, there are a total of 12 scenic trails to explore in the Butte area.

If you head out of town just a bit, you’ll find some other great places for outdoor recreation. Thompson Park which is just south of Butte on Highway 2 has 25 miles of trail for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

This park has some remnants of the area’s mining history, cool rock formations, and amazing views.

Another option just outside of town that is popular with visitors and locals alike is the Milwaukee Railroad trail. This trail starts on the north end of Thompson Park and heads 4.5 miles through the forest to Pipestone Pass and connects to the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. The trail passes through two tunnels and over a steel trestle bridge that is 600 feet long.

If you need a place for a quiet picnic and short family-friendly trails, check out the Eagles Nest picnic area. The Eagle’s Nest trailhead starts here, and there are nice picnic spots with grills, tables, and restrooms.

2. Take in a Show at the Mother Lode Theater

mother lode theater
Image: marcmoss

Originally built in the early 1900s at the height of the copper boom in Butte, the Fox Theater was a central part of the community’s social and cultural scenes. It was originally used for stage acts but was converted into a movie house during the Great Depression.

However, like many theaters of its kind, it eventually closed due to a lack of income.

In 1996 the theater opened its doors to the Butte community, once again. Now known as the Mother Lode Theater, the new owners have carefully restored this historic theater to its original, ornate glory.

Seating 1,200 people this auditorium is home to numerous entertainment options. Check out musical performances, Broadway shows, and other nationally touring acts. The Mother Lode is also home to the Butte Symphony and the Butte Community Concert Series.

3. Take the Underground City Tour

Butte’s colorful history includes some interesting underground activities. And by underground we mean literally, underground. Old Butte Historical Adventures is a local company that provides historical tours of the city. One of the most popular tours is the Underground City Tour.

This tour gives visitors a look at the history hidden beneath the city.

The Underground City Tour visits the Rookwood Speakeasy and the 1890s city cellar jail. Both of these sites are remnants of the more nefarious activities that occurred in old west towns like Butte.

4. Play a Round at Old Works Golf Course

play a round at old works golf course

There are not many world-class golf courses in Montana. However, the Butte area has one of the best golf courses in the state. The Old Works Golf Course located just a short drive from Butte in Anaconda is the only Jack Nicklaus in Montana.

The golf course is located on the site of the original Anaconda copper smelter. Once a superfund clean-up site, the town had visions of making this open area a world-class golf course.

After exhaustive efforts to clean the site and make it safe for visitors, the course was designed, constructed, and opened in the mid-1990s.

Today, the Old Works golf course is a publicly accessible, 18-hole golf course. It is a perfect place for golfers of all skill levels to enjoy a day on the links. The course runs along Warm Springs Creek and hills that still bear remnants of the area’s mining past.

One of the most unique features of this course is the bunkers, which are filled with black slag. Slag is a by-product of the copper smelting process and is a perfect material for bunkers, it is also black in color, creating a unique look that isn’t found at any other golf course.

Old Works Golf Course has a nice clubhouse that has a restaurant, bar, pro-shop, and men’s and women’s locker rooms.

5. Explore the World Museum of Mining

world museum of mining

Sitting on top of the retired Orphan Girl Mine, the World Mining Museum highlights the mining history of Butte and many of the mining activities and techniques used around the world.

The mine is located on the west side of town, and one of its most prominent exhibits is the mine headframe which stands 100-feet above the ground. The Hoist House for the Orphan Girl Mine also remains and houses many of the exhibits of the museum.

Some of the fun things to experience at the World of Mining Museum include hands-on exhibits that allow you to stand in the small cages that lowered miners into the mine, checking out ore bins and the mechanics of the headframe.

However, the most exciting opportunity at the World Mining Museum is the guided tour of the Orphan Girl Mine!

Visitors descend 100 feet into the mine and are given a firsthand look at the conditions and operations of many mines in the area, and learn firsthand how Butte’s miners worked to remove precious metals from the ground.

6. Visit the Copper King Mansion

copper king mansion

The Copper King Mansion is one of the most distinctive residences in the town of Butte. Once home to W.A. Clark and his family, the home was constructed between 1884 and 1888. It is constructed in the Romanesque Revival Victorian style and was a statement about the success of Clark, who was known as one of the area’s “Copper Kings”.

Enjoy the 90-minute narrated tour of the mansion that highlights interesting facts about the home and its 34 rooms. The mansion is decorated in the highly opulent style of the period, and a few of the pieces in the mansion are original to the home.

Some of the original features of the home include chandeliers and stained-glass windows. The home even has a ballroom in the attic.

The mansion, while being a museum, is also a private home and bed and breakfast. So, if you want to get a firsthand experience of what it was like to live in such comfort in the 1880s, plan ahead and reserve a room in this beautiful home.

7. Go to Hell Roarin’ Gulch

Many of the mining towns around Butte are no longer around. And even in Butte, much of the mining history and buildings from the city’s days as a booming mining community no longer exist.

Hell Roarin’ Gulch is a recreation of a typical 1890s mining town in Montana. The town has 15 buildings that are historic structures that were brought to the site from other communities including the schoolhouse, two of the churches, and the superintendent’s home.

There are also 35 buildings that were constructed on the site in the style of the period and from materials from old buildings.

As you wander through Hell Roarin’ Gulch you’ll enjoy looking at artifacts within each building that are from the mining period in the Butte area. Many of the buildings feature furniture from the period, and the interpretive signs tell of life in a typical mining town.

8. Explore the Berkeley Pit

the berkeley pit

The Berkeley Pit is likely the most distinctive feature of the Butte area. Sitting on the outskirts of Butte, the Berkeley Pit operated for 27 years, and was, at one time, one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world. During its years of operation, it is estimated that a billion tons of material were removed from the site.

In 1985 when operations at the mine ceased, the water pumps that were used to keep the mine dry were turned off, and the pit filled with water. The water in the pit today is so toxic that regulators at the pit use propane cannons to keep birds from landing in the acidic waters.

Today the site is an EPA Superfund site, however, visitors to the area can easily see the remains of the mine from I-90 and other locations around Butte. For a closer look, visitors to Butte can head to the Berkeley Pit viewing stand.

The stand is open to the public, from March to October and there is a small admissions fee.

9. Eat and Drink Locally

One of the fun things to do in any town you visit is to check out the local food and drink options. Butte has some really great places to get a meal or a beverage that you don’t want to miss.

The Pekin Noodle Parlor is the oldest, continuously operating Chinese restaurant in the United States. Its doors first opened for business in 1909, and the building is one of the last remaining buildings from the Chinatown neighborhood in the Butte-Anaconda historic district.

And while the building and history of the restaurant are interesting, it’s the food that shouldn’t be missed. The Pekin Noodle Parlor still serves amazing Chinese food in Butte.

Breweries are a big draw these days to many communities. The craft beer scene is alive and well in Butte and thanks to the Butte Brewing Co., it’s been going strong in Butte since 1875.

While the original Butte Brewing Co. closed its doors in the 1960s after many years of good business and creating the iconic “Butte Beer ” the brewery’s flagship brew. In 2015 the brewery was reopened and continues the 130-year tradition of brewing some of the best beers in Butte.

The Muddy Creek Brewery is another great stop in Uptown Butte if you like micro-brewed beer and live music.

10. Take a Ride on the Trolley

If you’re a history buff and really want to learn about Butte’s history, then the trolley tours offered by the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce is one activity you just can’t miss.

The tour lasts around 2 hours and is narrated by local history experts that share some of the most colorful and interesting facts about the area’s history.

The tour takes you through the Butte National Historic Landmark District, past places like the Dumas Brothel, the Copper King Mansion, the World Mining Museum, and Orphan Girl Mine, Mai Wah Museum, Clark Chateau, the Berkeley Pit viewing stand, and many other sites.

Free Things to Do in Butte, Montana

free things to do in butte

1. Visit the Granite Mountain Memorial Overlook

On June 8, 1917, one of the worst mining disasters in history occurred in Butte. The Speculator Fire took the lives of 168 hard-rock miners on that day on a hilltop just outside of Butte.

Today the Granite Mountain Memorial Overlook offers visitors amazing views of the Highland Mountains, the Berkeley Pit, and interpretive signs that tell the story of Butte’s mining history and the tragic events that unfolded on June 8, 1917.

2. Our Lady of the Rockies

In 1979 Bob O’Bill, a Butte resident constructed the Our Lady of the Rockies statue on the Continental Divide above the town of Butte. Built following O’Bill’s wife’s recovery from cancer, this 90-foot-tall statue is dedicated to the contributions made by women around the world.

Our Lady of the Rockies is the third tallest statue in the United States. This likeness of the Virgin Mary can be toured up close by taking one of the many buses that shuttle visitors to the statue during the summer and early fall. The tour is approximately a two-hour round-trip excursion.

If you want a bit of a challenge, the Maud S Canyon trail is a 15-mile round trip hike that ends at the base of the Our Lady of the Rockies statue. It’s a pretty robust hike, so be prepared for a good climb. However, seeing the statue up close is well worth the hike.

3. Hike the Copperway Trail 

The Copperway Trail is a great way to see some of the landmarks around the Butte and Anaconda communities. This trail is just a small portion of the larger Top of the World Trail System. The trail is a great way to check out the historical sites of Butte and Anaconda and get a bit of exercise as well.

The Copperway Trail connects Butte, Anaconda, and Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. The trail is well maintained and is a mix of packed dirt and paved surfaces, so it is great for walking or biking. Because it is a popular trail for locals, it is kept clear and passable even in the winter.

The Copperway Trail is also dog friendly so your four-legged friends can stretch their legs as well.

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