A trip that should be on every Montana traveler’s list is Bannack State Park.

Bannack State Park is a park that gets overlooked quite a bit by out-of-staters, as well as Montanans. Maybe the crowds steer toward Virginia City, and Nevada City because of the Players and Follies, maybe because there is a bit of modern mixed in with the history, or maybe it’s just because they are more centrally located in the state. You should definitely experience Virginia City and Nevada City, but don’t miss out on Bannack.

Bannack is in Southwest Montana, approximately 20 miles outside of Dillon. Bannack State Park is a registered national historic landmark, as the site of the first major gold discovery in Montana, on July 28, 1862.

Bannack Registered National Historic Landmark
Bannack Registered National Historic Landmark

From the discovery of gold in 1862, the next calendar year saw Bannack grow to a population of ten thousand souls looking to strike it big. At its height, there were three hotels, three bakeries, a billiard hall, a brewery, and four saloons. In 1864 it also served a short stint as the Montana Territorial capital, until it was moved to Virginia City.

Bannack State Park is open year-round, but the visitor center is open from Memorial Day – Labor Day 10am – 6pm.

bannackblacksmith- photo from FTP.MT.gov

The park hosts many events, but the can’t miss weekend is Bannack Days. It is set on the third weekend in July every year. (July 15, 16 this year) During Bannack Days, state park officials recreate when Bannack was a boom town, re-enacting the day-to-day lives of miners at the peak of the gold rush.

Bookmark Bannack State Park on your google-map and circle the third weekend in July for Bannack Days. Learn more about the park HERE.

You can also take a look at more mining history via some articles about the Montana Mining Association, Butte’s Miners Union Day, the Anaconda Smelter, Butte’s Underground Mining Tours, and the list of National Historic Places in Butte.

-bannackprospector- photo from FTP.MT.gov
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