8 Top Things to Do in Butte, Montana

Butte, Montana, United States, North America

John Elk / Getty Images

The small city of Butte, Montana, is known for its colorful mining history, and while its glory days are past, there are still plenty of things for visitors to see and do. Start by learning all about the city's mining background on an underground tour or taking a guided cultural or historic walking or trolley tour while you’re in town. Visitors can also check out an elegant Victorian mansion owned by one of the country's formerly wealthiest men and view beautiful scenery from various trails in town and in the nearby mountains. Also known as Montana's "festival city," Butte hosts fun family-friendly gatherings all year long, from live music performances to international film festivals and events celebrating the area's Irish heritage.

01 of 08

Learn About Butte’s Chinese History

A look at the Chinese New Year Parade in Butte, Montana

Mai Wah Society & Museum

17 W Mercury St, Butte, MT 59701-2019, USA
Phone +1 406-723-3231

If you happen to be visiting the area June through September, stop by the Mai Wah Society Museum on West Mercury Street to learn more about the history and experience of Butte’s Chinese community, who first settled in the Rocky Mountains West region during the late 19th-century. Open Tuesday through Saturday, the museum offers artifact collections and displays depicting what life was like back then, including cabinets and newspapers dating back to 1897. The museum is housed in the Wah Chong Tai Mercantile building, a perfectly preserved example of a traditional Chinese shop during the early 20th century. 

For a real treat, plan your trip to coincide with the annual Chinese New Year parade, happening February 5, 2022, to celebrate the year of the tiger and January 28, 2023, in honor of the year of the rabbit.

02 of 08

Join a Historical Walking or Trolley Tour

Old copper mine shaft in Butte, Montana

HABY / Getty Images

117 N Main St #9331, Butte, MT 59701, USA
Phone +1 406-498-3424

Old Butte Historical Adventures offers three different two-hour walking tours of uptown Butte throughout the year. With sometimes dramatic narration, the family-friendly tours cover the decades from the 1890s through the 1950s. Visitors will be provided with an intriguing glimpse into times past with stops at places like the Roaring 20s Rookwood Speakeasy hotel, built in 1912 featuring stained glass skylights and hardwood moldings; Hotel Finlen, which has some rooms in a tower constructed in 1924; and the Old City Jail.

Nearby, the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce provides two-hour trolley tours narrated by local experts, highlighting the city's fascinating mining and cultural history that started in the middle of the 19th century. Along the way, you'll see gracious mansions and stately public buildings in the National Historic Landmark District, including the Copper King Mansion and Dumas Brothel, the longest-operating brothel in the U.S., established in 1890 and supposedly haunted by various spirits. You'll also tour the World Museum of Mining, Montana Tech University, and the Berkeley Pit, where you can get out and visit the viewing platform.

03 of 08

View the Berkeley Pit

Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana

Design Pics / Richard Cummins /  Getty Images

Berkeley Pit, Butte, MT 59701, USA

One of the first things you'll notice upon arriving in uptown Butte is the former open-pit copper mine that measures 7,000 feet (2,134 meters) long, 5,600 feet (1,707 meters) wide, and 1,600 feet (488 meters) deep on the hillside. Berkeley Pit, which was started in 1955, has been called the most contaminated body of water in the country and is both a Superfund site (a polluted U.S. location requiring a long-term response to cleaning up hazardous materials) and a popular visitor attraction. A viewing platform overlooks the toxic lake, allowing you to get a good view while learning more about its history (for a small ticket price).

04 of 08

See the Our Lady of the Rockies Statue

Our Lady of the Rockies

susankinidaho / Flickr / CC

Butte Plaza Mall, 3100 Harrison Ave, Butte, MT 59701, USA
Phone +1 406-782-1221

Our Lady of the Rockies is a white, 90-foot-tall statue of the Virgin Mary set high on a hillside overlooking Butte. Completed in 1985, the landmark statue is a memorial to women around the world and only came together with the help of people from various religions and backgrounds collaborating over a six-year period.

Tours that take about 2.5 hours (weather-permitting) leave from Butte in the summer and fall; you'll watch a 30-minute video before heading up a winding mountain road to visit the statue up close. Afterward, stop by the gift shop in Butte Plaza Mall to pick up bookmarks, prayer cards, and other souvenirs to commemorate your visit.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Check Out Copper King Mansion

Copper King Mansion

Courtesy of TripAdvisor

219 W Granite St, Butte, MT 59701-9235, USA
Phone +1 406-782-7580

Copper King Mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a large brick Victorian home that was built for William A. Clark, one of Butte's wealthiest copper mine developers who was considered one of the richest men in the world in the year 1900. Much of the original beauty of this 34-room mansion built between 1884 and 1888 has been preserved, including its chandeliers, fabulous woodwork, stained glass windows, and magnificent furnishings.

Guided tours of the mansion are available seasonally at designated times, usually from early May through the end of September. The bed and breakfast is open all year and offers five different rooms, allowing you to stay in the master bedroom where Clark once slept or in rooms that belonged to his children or butler.

06 of 08

Celebrate at Butte's Many Fairs and Festivals

An Ri Ra Irish Festival

SW Montana / Flickr / CC

66 W Park St, Butte, MT 59701, USA

Butte puts on a variety of enjoyable special events throughout the year, many of which celebrate the city's rich Irish heritage. Visit in March to see the St. Patrick's Day Parade and party alongside kilt-wearing bagpipers. Families love the Montana Folk Festival, held outdoors each July, and the An Ri Ra Irish Festival in August, which is also free and celebrates all things Irish with dancing, music, and a 5K run, among other festivities. Each September, the Covellite International Film Festival features more than 100 films from around the world, including everything from documentaries to feature-length and short films.

07 of 08

Go Underground at The World Museum of Mining

Orphan Girl Mine, World Museum of Mining.

Richard Cummins / Getty Images

155 Museum Way, Butte, MT 59701, USA
Phone +1 406-723-7211

You'll get to see mining equipment of all shapes and sizes at The World Museum of Mining, including strange-looking antique machinery and modern haulers. More than 65 exhibits include hard rock mining tools, a reconstructed old mining town, and a large collection of minerals. The museum is located on the grounds of the Orphan Girl Mine, which was open from the 1860s to the 1970s. Today, you can don a hard hat and take an underground mine tour to see the mine’s inner workings up close during a 65-foot level tour that takes 45-60 minutes or a 100-foot level tour that lasts 1.5 hours.

08 of 08

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Ringing Rocks

Courtesy of TripAdvisor

Ringing Rocks, Montana 59759, USA

Located in the Rocky Mountains on the Continental Divide, Butte is surrounded by four million acres of state and federal lands where you can enjoy biking and hiking trails for all levels as well as other outdoor activities like camping, hunting, and fishing. Just south of Butte in Thompson Park, you can enjoy a picnic and learn about the area's history and natural features through a series of interpretive signs. During the cold winter months, skiing and snowmobiling are additional activities to engage in.

While you’re in town, make time to check out the Ringing Rocks, an unusual natural formation that chimes when tapped lightly with a hammer, about 18 miles (29 kilometers) east of Butte.

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8 Top Things to Do in Butte, Montana