Autumn spells adventure in Southwest Montana

With school back in session, autumn is the most colorful and quiet season to visit Montana. First-time visitors never forget the scenic driving tours across the state, where they find uncrowded roadways, stunning vistas and quaint communities to stop and enjoy a slice of huckleberry pie along the way.

The Pintler Veteran’s Memorial Scenic Highway is perhaps Montana’s finest driving tour.  The 64-mile roadway connects Anaconda to Drummond, with stops at Georgetown Lake, Philipsburg and the ghost town of Granite along the way.  In the autumn months the golden aspens flanking the highway make this a trip not to miss.  Camping, hiking, fishing and floating opportunities abound in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness as well as all around Georgetown Lake, the locals’ favorite playground.  Additionally, backpacking trips atop the continental divide during September and October rank among the most spectacular back-country experiences available anywhere.  You’ll just want to bring a few extra layers for frosty nights.

For a less rugged experience, load up the family for a real-life fright fest at one of Montana’s Wild West ghost towns.  Southwest Montana is chock-full of historical and spooky locations and notorious characters that give the mountains, rivers and communities a colorful past.  October events can be frightful…especially in the ghost towns of Nevada City and Bannack (which was once Montana’s first capital city).  Nevada City’s living history museum is alive and well during the autumn season, with gypsy fortune tellers, face painting, ghost walks and safe trick-or-treating during All Hallows Eve.  And don’t forget a stop at the “haunted” Fairweather Inn in nearby Virginia City…many a ghost have supposedly been spied running up and down the historic hallways.

During the end of October, Bannack State Park comes alive with the ghosts of its storied past.  Bannack Ghost Walks recreate significant events in history and introduce you to the spirits of notorious former (and current???) denizens such as Henry Plummer, Mattie Silks, Doctor Glick and more.  Bring a flashlight, warm clothes, and your family for an evening of adventure.  Camping is available at the two directly adjacent campgrounds, the Road Agent and the Vigilante.  A tipi is even available for the Vigilante to delight the young and young at heart.


Southwest Montana, formerly known as Gold West Country, is a large swath of mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes and hearty communities smack dab in between Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks.  Southwest Montana offers a sampling of all of Montana’s lightly-tread amenities, including mega-mountains, lunker trout, budding melting pots for art and culture in Butte and Helena, remote yet luxurious escapes, and a slice of the Wild West through the numerous and well-preserved ghost towns in its mineral-rich hills.

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