Bannack State Park is located 25 miles southwest of Dillion, Montana. This ghost town consists of over 60 intact structures located on the original townsite on Grasshopper Creek. The Montana State Park allows visitors to explore most of the buildings and the area including main street, a gallows and hilltop cemetery.
Bannack State Park is one of the coolest places to visit in Montana. I recommend everyone traveling through southwest Montana visit this park whether you have a couple hours or a few days to spend in the area. There is a small campground on Grasshopper Creek for those with enough time to spend the night. Sites may be reserved in advance.
The town of Bannack was founded in 1862 when gold was found in the nearby Grasshopper Creek. By 1864 Bannack was booming and became the first Territorial Capital of Montana. Bannack continued as a mining town into the 1930's with most of the population gone by the 1950's. Now the town of Bannack is preserved as a ghost town for people to explore.
I get a lot of questions about where our renters should actually go camp. This includes requests for camping guide books and cool spots in the area. I'm always somewhat stymied by this question as there are so many options! The answer is also dependent on how you like to camp from being completely self-supported in a remote location to wanting a traveling hotel room with access to toilets and showers. I decided it is time to try to address this question of where to camp in Montana. Below are categories of camping in Montana from National Parks to private backyards.
National Park Campgrounds
As most of our renters are heading to either Yellowstone, Grand Teton or Glacier National Parks this seems like a good place to start. Each National Park has numerous campgrounds. Some of these you can reserve in advance and others are first-come-first-served. Regardless, these campgrounds are full almost every night in the summer. Each park has a website listing when the campgrounds are full. Reservations are strongly recommended if you can plan in advance.
The National Park campgrounds all have developed campsites with a picnic table, fire ring, and level parking spots. They also offer potable water, toilets and trash service. You will have to pay a fee to camp in these campgrounds. Some may have additional amenities like flush toilets and showers, Most of these campgrounds will have a camp host who keeps an eye on things including campers and wildlife. Campsites are priced based on what type of vehicle is allowed - this is usually more limiting for very large RVs. Our rigs can usually be parked in any spot with the exception of the Fishing Bridge Campground in Yellowstone which is closed to tents and soft-sided campers.
Camping in the National Parks will be great for some people especially those who prefer more developed campgrounds and don't mind camping around other people. Other campers will probably feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of activity and lack of privacy. Regardless, most of these campgrounds are in very pretty areas and allow you access to the park's amenities.
I have been contemplating this road trip for quite some time and finally decided to sit down and figure it out. The goal is to visit amazing places in Montana while simultaneously drinking good beer. I stuck to western Montana to keep the driving times manageable, plus it is beautiful here and totally worth visiting. A caveat - I have not done this trip, so I don't have the logistics worked out. I am listing the high points and from there it is choose your own adventure. If anyone out there wants to do this trip and document it let me know! Don't forget to check out the Montana Brewer's Trail Map to help you find your way to good beer!
Here is the driving loop starting and finishing at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport:
Amy Bowser is the co-owner of Paradise Overland with her husband Jon. In their free time they explore anywhere they can get to with their Toyota and roof top tent.