Take a step back in time to yesteryear at Garnet ghost town outside of Missoula, Mont.

Those who visit Garnet can wander down what used to be the bustling main street of the now-abandoned mountain mining town and peer into the windows of the remaining faded wooden structures while trying to imagine what it must have been like over a century ago.

Garnet popped up in 1895 and at its peak was home to 1,000 people. During its heyday, the little town had hotels, stores and saloons, as well as a school, laundry facility, drugstore, assay office and a weekly newspaper. While the gold lasted, the town boomed, but by 1912, most of the large gold strikes were depleted and a fire destroyed much of the business district.

The small town experienced a small second boom during the Great Depression when out-of-work miners returned to Garnet to work over the old mines and find free housing in abandoned buildings. However, this boom ended quickly when most of those who returned to Garnet left for better jobs in the defense industry with the advent of World War II.

Today, the BLM has stabilized and preserved the remaining two dozen buildings, and over 16,000 people visit the area to take a glimpse into part of Montana’s amazing mining past. Many historical artifacts remain within a few of the buildings. Each room in the Wells Hotel is still furnished with original bedsprings and furniture. The store still contains original food containers and tools found within the abandoned town.

BLM rangers volunteers are on hand to give history and further information about Garnet to visitors. These volunteers stay in the town during the summer to keep a watchful eye over the abandoned town.

The surrounding area features many recreational opportunities with stunning views of the Potomac Valley and surrounding mountain ranges. In the summer, visitors can stroll through the ghost town or take a hike within the 116 miles of trails that wind throughout the area. Along these trails, old mining artifacts and other remnants of the area’s past can be spotted within overgrown vegetation and along the mountainside.

In the winter, cabins within Garnet can be rented out. During the winter season, the road to Garnet is closed and those who reserve cabins can ski or snowmobile into the town.

To learn more about this iconic Montana mining ghost town and recreational opportunities in the surrounding area, please visit
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