Garnet, tucked high in the Garnet Mountain Range east of Missoula, is considered Montana’s most intact ghost town. Named for the semi-precious, ruby-colored stone found in the area, in its heyday the town had a school, an array of saloons where the liquor flowed freely, and “bawdy houses” that did a brisk business. The miners collected gold by panning, and then by using rockers and sluice boxes.
These days, the ghost town is protected and preserved by the non-profit Garnet Preservation Association, in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Visitors over 15 years old are charged $3 per person. The BLM uses entrance fees to protect, preserve and interpret Garnet Ghost Town.
A trip to Garnet can be fun year ’round: cruising in your car, four-wheeling, hiking, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing. In the winter, Garnet is only accessible by snowmobile and cross-country ski trip. Visitors in the spring and fall may have to park and ski or snowmobile to the ghost town.
The best way to get to Garnet is to take Montana Route 200. Turn south at the Garnet Range Road located between mile markers 22 and 23, about 30 miles east of Missoula. Follow the Range Road for approximately 11 miles to Garnet.
To plan ahead, call the Missoula BLM office, (406) 329-3914.
Drive Time From Missoula: Approximately 66 miles; or 1 hour
Directions: To get to the Garnet Ghost Town from Missoula, take I-90 east to Exit 109, the Bonner Exit. Continue on Highway 200 east for 23 miles. Shortly after the 22 mile marker turn south at the sign Garnet Ghost Town. The parking lot is 11 miles up the gravel road. Please note the gravel road is not recommended for trailers or motorhomes.