The remote site is popular among winter recreation enthusiasts who enjoy skiing and snowmobiling in the rugged terrain around the small cluster of historic buildings.
Reservations fill quickly, so a lottery drawing will be held in early November to determine cabin renters. Applications are available now and must be completed and returned to the Missoula BLM office by Nov. 2 to be eligible for the lottery. After the lottery, cabin vacancies will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications and detailed information can be found on the BLM Missoula Field Office website at http://www.blm.gov/mt/st/en/fo/missoula_field_office.html.
Cabins come furnished with beds, dishes, gas cook stoves, lanterns, and wood heat stoves. The Dahl Cabin sleeps up to six for $40 per night, and the McDonald Cabin sleeps four for $30 per night.
The only way to access Garnet in winter is via snowmobile, skis, snowshoes or dog sled. There are two routes into Garnet in the winter:
From Highway 200, turn south on the Garnet Range Road between mile markers 22 and 23 and park near the gate about a quarter-mile from Highway 200. The winter journey is about 12 miles with a steady incline from the closed gate to Garnet.
Visitors using I-90 should take the Bearmouth or Drummond Exit, then the Frontage Road to Bear Gulch. They can drive to a gate and a small parking area within five miles of the ghost town. This route is shorter but steeper, gaining 1,500 feet before reaching Garnet.
For more information about cabin rentals or to receive an application via mail, call the BLM’s Missoula Field Office at 406-329-3914.
Garnet Ghost Town is located in the northernmost tip of Granite County, nestled in the Garnet Range of the Rocky Mountains, about 40 miles southeast of Missoula, and 14 miles northwest of Drummond. At its peak, more than 100 years ago, Garnet was a thriving gold-mining town with numerous hotels, a newspaper, an assay office, two barber shops, a meat market, several general stores, a blacksmith shop, a jail, a stage stop, and almost a dozen saloons.
As the gold played out in the early 1900s, the once-prosperous town slowly slipped into a deep sleep until New Deal policies of the 1930s, which supported a doubling of the price of gold, resulted in mines reopening and several hundred residents returning to Garnet. The revival was short-lived and restrictions on the private use of dynamite applied at the onset of World War II dealt Garnet a death blow. Frank Davey, Garnet’s last full-time resident, passed away in 1947. Though never producing the tonnage of gold that its contemporaries at Bannack, Virginia City, Helena or Butte did, Garnet took its place as the last of the 19th-century Montana “boom” towns associated with the American dream of “striking it rich,” and became the predominant mining center of the Garnet Range. The ghost town is now publicly owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
Proceeds from the cabin rental program are used for the on-going preservation and interpretation of the town.
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