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    Set out on a road trip to Montana and discover some of the most unusual landmarks in America. Quirky things to see and do in Montana range from abandoned towns that rose and fell with the mining booms and busts in the 1800s, as well as some outright weird attractions you won’t find elsewhere.

    Montana is known for its diverse natural beauty, from its alpine scenery, forests, and lakes and down to the great plains where bison graze. In between, there are bizarre places filled with history and even spots that are both amazing and deadly at the same time. Let us show you where.

    1

    Garden of One Thousand Buddhas

    Montana’s unlikely Tibetan and Native American spiritual site

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    The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is where you can find even more peace and tranquillity beyond Montana’s soothing alpine beauty and vast plains. You wouldn’t normally expect to find a grand Tibetan Buddhist site on a Native American reservation, let alone one filled with many bright-white Buddha statues and stupas and surrounded by lavender gardens.

    This meditative site was founded at the turn of the millennium as a pilgrimage site in the Western hemisphere for Buddhist practitioners as well as a place for ceremonial gatherings for the local Salish-Kootenai people, due to their shared similarities of spiritual practices and beliefs. It’s open to visits for people from any faith or background and is a great spot for a calm respite on road trips through Western Montana.

    Locatie: 34574 White Coyote Rd, Arlee, MT 59821, USA

    Openingstijden: Daily from 8 am to 9 pm

    Telefoonnummer: +1 406-726-0555

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    foto door Montanabw (CC BY-SA 3.0) bewerkt

    2

    Castle Ghost Town

    Discover the solemn remnants of Montana’s silver rush

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    Castle Town is one of the settlements that rose and fell with the silver mining industry of Montana in the 1800s, particularly in the Castle Mountains. What remains of the town are derelict residential houses and what used to be shops, saloons, as well as a general store and the town post office. The buildings are dilapidated now, which adds to the spooky feeling when walking around.

    Also referred to as Castle City, the mining camp was gradually abandoned due to the lack of transportation for hauling the rich ore to the smelter over 100 miles away and following the economic depression known as the Panic of 1893. It once housed up to 2,000 residents, including the famed frontierswoman Calamity Jane.

    Locatie: Castle Town, Montana 59053, USA

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    foto door sshreeves (CC BY 2.0) bewerkt

    3

    Ringing Rocks

    Make music with Mother Nature’s unusually percussive instruments

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    The Ringing Rocks is a large boulder outcrop on the southwestern side of Dry Mountain in Jefferson County, known for having unique sonorous qualities when struck. The rocks were formed by the crystallised mix of extrusive basalt and granite magma some millions of years ago.

    The varying sizes of the rocks mean you have different sounds to play with – you can end up spending some fun hours here, especially if you bring along some friends or the kids and each wields a pair of hammers. The hilly drive to get there, finding the perfect-sounding sets of rocks for your jam session, then coming up with a cool beat together is all part of the thrill.

    Locatie: Whitehall, MT 59759, USA

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    foto door Bureau of Land Management (CC BY 2.0) bewerkt

    4

    Elkhorn Ghost Town

    Ramshackle log cabins and preserved halls from the 1890s

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    Elkhorn in Jefferson County is a ghost town that saw its heyday during the silver mining boom, featuring run-down log cabins and 2 preserved town halls. Entering the town, also referred to as Elkhorn State Park, you’ll find that its 19th-century mining landscape is pretty much intact, though some of the cabins lay in shambles in the valley.

    The 2 preserved halls, namely the Fraternity Hall and the Gillian Hall, stand tall in the heart of the town. Both halls were pastime hubs for residents and miners back in the day, either serving as a saloon or holding regular shows and dances. You can also explore a cemetery nearby with sombre tombstones from the early 1900s.

    Locatie: Elkhorn, Montana 59632, USA

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    foto door Montanabw (CC BY-SA 4.0) bewerkt

    5

    Garnet Ghost Town

    One of Montana’s best-preserved gold rush towns

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    Garnet Ghost Town is one among the many places in Montana where you can get a feel of how life was back during the mining boom of the late 1800s. Unlike Montana’s other ghost towns though, Garnet’s log cabins, houses, stores, stables, school, doctor’s office, and saloons all are intact –some even with their old furnishings – thanks to the efforts of the Garnet Preservation Association.

    You can stroll through the alcove and learn more about each of the empty buildings – each having a story to tell through informative boards and signs. Visit in June and you can join in on the festivities of Garnet Day – the 19th-century mining springs back to life with family-friendly activities and re-enactments.

    Locatie: Drummond, MT 59832, USA

    Openingstijden: Daily from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm

    Telefoonnummer: +1 406-329-3914

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    foto door Laura Kelly (CC BY-SA 4.0) bewerkt

    6

    The Berkeley Pit

    Admire the sheer size and colours...from a distance

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    The former open-pit copper mine called the Berkeley Pit is a stunning sight, with water that glows in shades from reddish to green – but that’s because it’s highly toxic. Heavy metals from copper and cobalt to iron and arsenic are responsible for its mysterious shades of colour.

    The water in the mile-long, half-mile-wide pit is so poisonous that thousands of snow geese dropped dead during their migration in 1995 after having landed in the pit. Despite all that, it’s easily one of the most peculiar sights to behold on your road trip through Montana – there’s a viewing point that you can enter for a few dollars.

    Locatie: 300 Continental Dr, Butte, MT 59701, USA

    Openingstijden: Monday–Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm

    Telefoonnummer: +1 406-723-3177

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    7

    Medicine Rocks State Park

    A strangely beautiful place where tribes once set out on vision quests

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    The eerie rock formations in the Medicine Rocks State Park include weathered towers of sandstone where Native American tribes once sought medicinal plants. These ancient perforated pillars, caves, and arches jut out of the grassy plains in Ekalaka. Some bear interesting tribal rock art and markings.

    These mysterious pillars are well spread out over 300 acres and emerge over the rolling hills and grassland as you approach on your scenic drive along Montana Highway 7.

    Locatie: 1141 MT-7, Ekalaka, MT 59324, USA

    Telefoonnummer: +1 406-377-6256

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    foto door J.B. Chandler (CC BY-SA 3.0) bewerkt

    8

    Grasshopper Glacier

    Here lies a swarm of extinct locusts…

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    Grasshopper Glacier is so-named because of the discovery of a certain species of locust that was stuck in its ice for centuries. The story goes that they once swarmed on a migratory path over the mountain but got caught in a storm before falling and getting buried under layers of ice and snow. They were discovered as the ice melted.

    Getting to the glacier is only recommended for serious hikers and is best done during the dry months of July and August. From Highway 212, you need to head north towards Lulu-Goose Lake Road and hike for about 4 miles to Goose Lake and the saddle between Sawtooth Mountain and Iceberg Peak.

    Locatie: Montana 59020, USA

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    foto door Trougnouf (CC BY-SA 4.0) bewerkt

    9

    Bear Gulch Pictographs

    Discover some of Montana’s best-preserved rock art

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    The Bear Gulch Pictographs hold a millennia's worth of Native American history through thousands of rock paintings and engravings. You can reach the site around 23 miles southeast of Lewistown.

    The grounds are privately owned but there are tours available provided by the owning family that can help you get a deeper understanding of life in the plains back in the day, including bison hunting and even life before bows and arrows. The trails are fairly flat and suitable for a whole family.

    Locatie: 2749 Fairview Rd, Forest Grove, MT 59441, USA

    Openingstijden: Wednesday–Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

    Telefoonnummer: +1 406-428-2185

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    10

    Jim’s Horn House

    Enter an astonishing collection of antlers

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    Jim’s Horn House in Three Forks houses the incredible assortment of bones and antlers collected over several decades by its passionate owner. Since he was a boy, Jim Phillips used to hike into the Montana wilderness just to collect moose, deer, and elk horns.

    Now he probably has tens of thousands, meticulously lined up and arranged as a mesmerising gallery inside his subtly lit sheds. If you wish to visit Jim and see his mind-blowing collection, you’ll have to drop him an email or visit his website.

    Locatie: Three Forks, Montana, 59752, USA

    Ari Gunadi | Reisfanaat

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