Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Highway (Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway)
Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Highway
(Pintler Veterans' Memorial Scenic Highway)
Includes Anaconda Smelter Stack, Anaconda Historic District, Georgetown Lake, Flint Creek Valley, Philipsburg Montana
The Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Highway of Montana is a 64 mile drive that includes breathtaking views of towering mountains, a wonderful lake that provides outstanding recreational opportunities, and gorgeous ranch land on your way to the charming historic town of Philipsburg, which is full of history and fun things to see and do.
The Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Route (also known as the Pintler Veterans' Memorial Scenic Highway), this paved highway is an alternate route for travelers driving on Interstate 90 near Butte Montana.
The Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Route runs between historic Anaconda, Montana and the small town of Drummond, Montana, and even though it will take a little more time than remaining on the interstate, we feel it's well worth this extra time and effort. Interesting to note, the mileage is about the same as if you stayed on the freeway, but of course it takes longer to drive as this route involves a winding two lane highway, and there are several attractions along the way that you and your family will want to enjoy.
Travelers driving on the Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Highway will enjoy the amazing landscape of the towering mountains of the Anaconda Range found within the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, the blue ribbon waters of Georgetown Lake, the beautiful Flint Creek Valley where cattle is king, and the restored Old West mining town of Philipsburg.
Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway in Montana.
Anaconda, Montana: Gateway to "The Pintler"
If you're heading west on Interstate 90, the beginning of the Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Highway (Pintler Veterans' Memorial Scenic Highway) begins at Anaconda, Montana, which is a famously historic town that was part of the incredible copper mining era of the late 1800s and early 1900s that involved the "Richest Hill on Earth" at Butte Montana, which is located just 25 miles to the east of Anaconda.
During the boom years, Butte became the main source of copper for electrical wiring around the world, and the famous "War of the Copper Kings" ensued, and the amazing history of Butte, Montana unfolded as hundreds of billions of dollars were made by three separate industrialists who were all wanting to be king of the hill. Anaconda was where all of this copper was smelted.
Anaconda Smelter Stack: World's Tallest!
Built in 1919, the world famous 585-foot tall smoke stack is still today the world's tallest masonry structure as it towers over the town of Anaconda. The smelter itself was the world's largest non-ferrous processing plant that has ever existed. Because of this important connection with ten thousand miles of copper mine shafts under the town of Butte, Anaconda was heavily entwined in the fascinating and amazing history of the Butte Area. In fact, Anaconda's history is one-in-the-same with Butte, and is an integral part of the Butte-Anaconda National Historic District.
When the Anaconda Smelter Stack closed in 1980, everything changed with regard to the economy of Butte and Anaconda, but the rich history remains along with most of the historic buildings and structures throughout the Butte-Anaconda Area. These buildings and structures are symbols of an incredibly significant and colorful time in American History.
As you drive down the nine mile long Highway 1 between Interstate 90 and the town of Anaconda, the Anaconda Smelter Stack rises "front and center" throughout the entire drive.
In fact, you'll be able to see this gigantic smoke stack 25 miles away as you pass through Butte on your way here. Once you reach Anaconda, in addition to visiting the Anaconda Smelter Stack, there are several historic buildings found throughout the main streets of Anaconda that you will truly enjoy if you like history, including the Deer Lodge County Court House.
Historic Deer Lodge County Courthouse in Anaconda, Montana.
"Old Works" Championship Golf Course
In addition to having an unbelievably rich history, Anaconda is also home to the "Old Works" Golf Course, which is a championship 18-hole course that was designed by Jack Nicklaus. This renowned golf course was beautifully built on the largest EPA clean-up and redevelopment projects in U.S. History.
The crown-jewel of the Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Drive are the towering mountains of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness.
Located southwest of the Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Route, the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness runs for 40 miles along the Continental Divide, and contains the majestic peaks of the Anaconda Mountain Range. Covering nearly 250 square miles and close to 160,000 acres, the tallest mountain in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness is West Goat Peak at 10,793 feet. There are several access points for adventurers wishing to enter this vast wilderness, where mountain climbing, hiking, horse pack trips, backpacking, hunting and fishing are among the most popular activities in this remote and primitive area. As travelers work their way along the Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Highway, the mountains of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness dominate the skyline to the southeast, especially near Georgetown Lake.
14 miles west of Anaconda and 10 miles southeast of Philipsburg along the Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Highway is Georgetown Lake.
Spanning 3,700 acres at an elevation of 6,425 feet above sea level, Georgetown Lake rests below the towering Anaconda Mountain Range of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness.
With an average depth of only 16 feet, Georgetown Lake is surrounded by actually three mountain ranges: the Anaconda Range to the south, the Sapphire Range to the west, and Flint Creek Range to the east. Created by the damming of North Flint Creek in 1885, Georgetown Lake provides visitors with exceptional recreational activities that include hiking, boating, water skiing, paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing. There are also a number of campgrounds around the lake, as well as vacation rentals.
Georgetown Lake along the Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway in Montana.
Regarded as one of Montana's most prolific trout fishing lakes, having more fish caught per person than virtually anywhere else in the state, Georgetown Lake is a blue ribbon fishery known for its tremendous populations of trophy-sized brook trout and rainbow trout, as well as a large number of kokanee salmon. During the winter, Georgetown Lake also becomes one of the best ice fishing lakes in the entire state of Montana.
This is a view of the Flint Creek Canyon, just below the dam. The highway abruptly works its way downward towards the west before heading north after reaching the broad and scenic Flint Creek Valley.
Flint Creek Valley
Flint Creek Valley along the Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway in Montana.
As you drive along the Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Route (Pintler Veterans' Memorial Scenic Highway), once the road leaves the Georgetown Lake area, and passes by the dam, the road heads steeply downhill along the side of an extremely steep canyon where Flint Creek heads toward an open valley.
There are old remnants of mining operations during the gold and silver rush of the late 1800s found along this scenic drive. The road follows Flint Creek into the gorgeous Flint Creek Valley, which is a wide open valley where cattle ranching dominates the landscape. You will see vast open fields of grass and hay land, barbed wire fences, old barns and ranch houses, with mountains dominating the skyline to the west, east and south. While heading northward, make sure to look back to the south as the mountains of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness rise high into the sky, creating an incredible sight.
The Anaconda Range dominates the skyline to the south as you drive northward through the Flint Creek Valley on the Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway of Montana.
Philipsburg is one of Montana's gems. This charming town was once a thriving Old West mining town after high grade gold and silver was discovered in the 1860s in the area.
Officially registered as a town in 1867, Philipsburg was named after Philip
Deidesheimer, a mining engineer who made a name for himself in the local area during the gold rush.
Philipsburg was of course a thriving boom town for many years, but the population virtually vanished overnight after the Great Silver Crash of 1893, which resulted the closure of local mills. Philipsburg became a ghost town overnight.
Downtown Philipsburg along the Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway in Montana.
Through time, Philipsburg slowly came back and has turned into a thriving little community with a tremendous "living presence" of its remarkable history. Ranching, sapphire mining, and tourism have breathed life into this charming town, and the Philipsburg Museum and Cultural Center keeps its colorful past alive and well.
There are now approximately 820 residents living in this classic Old West town, and they all have great pride in their Old West mining town. In 2000, Philipsburg was a national finalist as the "Prettiest Painted Places In America", as a testimonial to just how splendidly the residence restored this wonderful "gem" of Montana.
Downtown Philipsburg is registered as a National Historic District with many of its buildings placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Aside from its historical significance, downtown Philipsburg is simply wonderful, and throughout the summer, thousands of visitors walk its mainstreet and enjoy the many fun business establishments within the wonderfully restored historic commercial buildings found all along this charming historic district.
The historic Sweet Palace Candy Store was re-opened in 1998, and is one of the largest home-made candy stores in the nation. Here you and your family can enjoy not only home made candy, but the Sweet Palace Candy Store is also famously known for its fantastic home-made chocolate delights and home-made fudge. You can also enjoy the many fun shops, as well as try your hand at mining for sapphires right next to the board walks on main street. The historic Broadway Hotel re-opened in 2003, and several other lodging establishments followed suit. The Philipsburg Brewing Company is one of the newest establishments on the iconic Philipsburg Mainstreet.
Downtown Philipsburg along the Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway in Montana.
And don't forget to visit Montana's oldest opera house! Without question, the Old West mining town of Philipsburg is a "must see" during your Montana vacation, and further makes your decision to take the Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Route (Pintler Veterans' Memorial Scenic Highway) a very good decision. And by the way, there are over 24 ghost towns throughout the area, the most commonly visited one being the old west mining ghost town of Granite, which is just a few miles from the mainstreet of Philipsburg.
Flint Creek Valley near Drummond Montana along the Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway.
Heading north from Philipsburg, in about 26 miles through gorgeous ranch and farming land of the Flint Creek Valley, you will reach the small town of Drummond Montana, which marks the end of the Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Highway (or the beginning if your coming from the west on Interstate 90). Drummond is a classic small ranching community of about 300 proud residents. With the Garnet Mountains nearby, there is the Old West ghost town of Garnet. Drummond is home to the annual "Bullshipper Rodeo Days" that is in the second week of July and is where fun is had by all.