Best Way to Experience the Ringing Rocks in Montana

Rebecca Hanlon
Last Updated: March 4th, 2023

If you are looking for an adventure that’s part musical and part nature, this may be the perfect afternoon for you.

The Ringing Rocks in Montana is a complex system that has a high degree of symmetry and unusual beauty as a result of erosion over thousands of years. As you probably suspect these rocks are a bit unusual, as they ring.

What Are The Ringing Rocks?

what are ringing rocks
Image: Bureau of Land Management

Also known as sonorous or lithophonic rocks, these rocks distinctive feature is a sound that it makes when struck lightly with a hammer. In this rare occurrence of nature, the ring only happens when the rock is in its original, natural habitat. Remove the rock, and it will no longer be a “live ringer” and it will lose its musical qualities.

Being one of only three locations known in the United States to be home to rocks that ring, it makes it that much more special and interesting of a visit.

Where are the Ringing Rocks in Montana?

The Ringing Rocks in Montana can be found in the Beaverhead National Forest, approximately 18 miles east of Butte and north of I-90. You can drive all the way, or most the way up the unpaved trail depending on your vehicle’s capabilities.

According to visitors, sedans should take the path on the left while high clearance vehicles can take the path on the right.

There is plenty of parking available and many will opt to park then hike the last 3/4 mile up. There are ​​signs along the drive and it will take you about 20-or-so minutes on a dirt road. It is free to park and there is also no fee to enjoy the rock formation or use the available hammers provided.

Why Do The Rocks Ring?

rocks ring

According to a  geologist and certified mineral examiner for the Bureau of Land Management in the Butte Field, Montana Office, Joan Gabelman “No one really knows why the rocks ring.”. Though “ringing rocks” have been discovered in a handful of locations, scientists haven’t quite discovered the reason for their unique musical qualities.

Wikipedia contributes to the confirmed mystery of why by outlining “Despite the broad public interest in the ringing ability of the ringing rocks, there has not been any actual scientific studies to identify the source of the phenomenon.”

What is there to do at Ringing Rocks?

Ringing Rocks really is just an impressive formation of rocks that you can bang on with a hammer to make music. You can bring your own hammer if you think it will be a busy day at the rocks, but plenty of hammers are provided for guests.

There is a fantastic view, once on top of the rocks as well, but the fun is in the journey to the rocks and the experience of making the rocks ring. There are no other activities or accommodations around the rocks themselves beside the hammers provided.

It’s a great opportunity to spend time outside and children really love the experience as well.

What To Do Around Ringing Rocks, Montana?

The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula

Just an hour north-west of Ringing Rocks, you’ll find the town of Missoula, which is home to The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula. For $4 you can enjoy this historical fort museum that transports you all the way back to the 1870s through video, newspaper clippings, artifacts, a lookout tower you can climb.

In addition, the museum contains buildings that have been moved and restored specifically to be preserved. There is a lot of history revealed through installations and vast grounds to walk, including lovely gardens and a dog park.

Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast

If you are looking for a place to perch close by, you will find Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast. Boasting an almost perfect score with reviews from over 100 guests, this bed and breakfast is a breath of fresh air that serves outstanding meals while being nestled between the glorious, tree-lined walking paths.

Enjoy breakfast while birds sing and the owner treats you like an old friend.

Golf Courses

If you enjoy golf, you’ll be pleased to know you will have a lot of golfing options in Missoula and surrounding areas. Missoula Country Club is a stunning course with an attentive staff.

Other famous locations include; Linda Vista Public Golf Course, which is known for its good food and casual vibe, while Larchmont Golf Course is known for its well-groomed course and outstanding service.

Fine Dining

Hungry? The Keep has everything to make your dining experience one to remember. From the stunning grounds to views, to the cute cozy couples area by the windows, it’s a place to treat yourself if you are looking to unwind and enjoy a superb meal.

Family Fun

Splash Montana may be a great stop if spending a day in the sun has made you want to cool down. With a lazy river, water slides, and a lap pool, there is something for all ages to enjoy. This hot spot gets busy during the summer months and is popular with all age groups. Food is available onsite with simple café fare.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Ringing Rocks?

time to go to ringing rocks

According to Montana Office of Tourism, the rocks can be enjoyed all year, weather permitting. Keep in mind that a sedan may be difficult to drive up the whole path, so keep the weather in mind when planning your trip, you may need to hike up the path a little more during the winter months than the summer months.

About The Author

Rebecca Hanlon

Rebecca has been a travel blogger and editor for over 5 years, working with some of the biggest brands in industry. She’s taught English as a foreign language in 5 different countries, and her most fulfilling role was as a tour guide around some of Europe’s finest vineyards. She the one behind the social channels here at Discovering Montana, whilst also finding the time to perform an assistant editor role.

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