1. Garnet Ghost Town
Start with Montana’s best preserved ghost town, Garnet Ghost Town. Believe it or not, this town wasn’t built to last—enterprising miners were more interested in extracting the treasures below the ground than building above it. But many remnants of the town still stand, and the Garnet Mountain Range is a beautiful place to start your day. If time allows, you can also head to the Coloma ghost town a few miles away.
2. Granite Ghost Town State Park, Philipsburg
Drive for about an hour and you’ll arrive at Granite Ghost Town State Park, which is home to an old mining camp from around 1872. This mine was once the richest silver mine on Earth, once yielding an incredible $40,000,000.
3. Cable, Deer Lodge County
This ghost town is sometimes closed to visitors (they’ve had trouble with vandalism), but you can still get close. Cable Mine is an old mining camp started by three prospectors in 1867. The prospectors spent the night here, and when they woke up, their horses were gone. As they searched for the horses, they discovered a huge quartz pillar loaded with gold. The mine was developed with the help of some Helena financiers, but the three miners disagreed too much to keep it going longer than a decade. New owners kept it going on and off until 1940.
4. Virginia City and Nevada City
Head southeast for about two hours and you’ll arrive at Virginia City, described as Montana’s coolest ghost town. Virginia City was the state of Montana’s original capital, and a visit here feels like a return to the Old West. Daily train rides will take you from Virginia City to the nearby Nevada City, the other major center of Commerce in the 1880s. If you’re dividing your road trip into two days (highly recommended), this would be a great area to spend the night. The Nevada City Hotel is an old stagecoach shop converted into a 12 room hotel with a saloon and an espresso bar.
5. Bannack State Park
Founded in 1862, Bannack was the site of a major gold discovery. At one point, the population here was 10,000, but it eventually dwindled and officially became a ghost town when the last residents left in the 1970s. Bannack State Park is so beautiful, it’s easy to spend half a day exploring. This is one ghost town that’s definitely rumored to be haunted.
6. Daly Mansion, Hamilton
As you head back toward Missoula on Highway 278 West and Highway 93 North, make sure to stop at the Daly Mansion. It’s not a ghost town, but it is the old home of Marcus Daly and his family. As an Irish immigrant, Marcus Daly arrived in New York in 1856 and worked his way from an uneducated laborer to the foreman for the Walker Brothers, a successful banking and mining syndicate. You can tour the Daily Mansion every hour on the hour from 10-3, and if you do, keep an eye out. The mansion is apparently haunted by Mrs. Daly.