Located at the doorstep of the spectacular Northern Rockies, Butte could have been content to simply step back and let the majesty of Mother Nature unfurl before its visitors. Instead, the city — and nearby counties of Silver Bow, Madison, Deer Lodge and points beyond — has established itself as a captivating destination in its own right, offering top-notch adventure, restaurants, hotels and shops. Things will look a bit different this year as Montana and the rest of the country navigates the pandemic through winter, but a little bit of planning and preparation will ensure that your visit is a safe and memorable one.
“With social distancing as an important measure to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Montana’s residents and visitors are exploring our parks and trails in record numbers,” said Tara Rice, director of the Montana Department of Commerce. “We want to encourage people to treat these outdoor spaces with the same respect we give to one another.” Rice advises on how to safely navigate Montana’s attractions this winter:
- Visitors should wear masks in crowds (both indoors and out) when social distancing isn’t possible and keep six feet away from others.
- As always, give wildlife their proper space as well.
- Keep vigilant about protecting your health: Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer, avoid touching your face, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home if you feel sick.
- Be aware that different destinations (such as national parks or Indian reservations) may have reduced services or heightened public health guidelines — and that those may change along with the number of COVID cases — so be sure to know before you go.
- Tread safely and conscientiously: Millions of acres are waiting to be explored this winter.
Montana’s earliest inhabitants were no doubt drawn to the region’s verdant forests, spectacular mountains and abundant lakes and rivers. Butte is ideally situated to explore them all. With more than 25 miles of trails fit for winter hiking, back-country skiing and fat-tire biking, Thompson Park — just nine miles south of Butte — is the perfect place to kick off your winter adventure. “In general it has become a community destination,” said Jocelyn Dodge, a recreation forester with the Beaverhead–Deerlodge National Forest. “It’s so close to town, it’s fairly easy to find and it’s a lot of fun. It is very family-oriented. What I have seen over the past year or so are more families going up there,” Dodge said.
Thompson Park’s extensive trail system also provides access to the picturesque Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and the Highland Mountains. The popular Discovery Ski Area (about 60 minutes from Butte) caters to everyone from beginners to mogul pros while Maverick Mountain (about 90 minutes from Butte) offers a more laid-back vibe, with 225 acres of varied terrain and a welcoming lodge. More than 100 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and deep powder await at Georgetown Lake (about 60 minutes from Butte), and the snowmobile trail system in Big Hole boasts hundreds of miles of groomed and ungroomed trails that connect to hundreds more.
After feeding your soul with nature, it’s time to do the same for your stomach — and Butte has no shortage of excellent options. Locals and tourists alike flock to Metals Sports Bar and Grill, located in a century-old bank building: Pizzas, burgers and salads are just more fun to eat inside a vault (which you can do there!). Uptown Café is a fine-dining favorite for dinner, serving exquisitely prepared classics — such as crab-stuffed shrimp, beef Wellington, chicken piccata and crème brûlée — while lunch brings more casual fare like meatloaf, pot pies and chili. At La Casa Toscana, you'll find a cozy eatery with a rotating 4-course menu of classic Italian dishes, including specialty lasagne. Elsewhere, get a taste of history when you order a pasty: It’s a savory pastry stuffed with meat and vegetables, originally brought here in the late 19th century by hungry English miners. Find them at Nancy’s Pasty Shop, Joe’s Pasty Shop, Gamer’s Café and other outposts around town.
Establishments are taking extra steps to ensure the safety of their customers during the pandemic, and indoor dining capacity and menus may be limited, so be sure visit restaurants’ websites for more details about the precautions they’re observing.
Butte is bursting with creative artisans and thoughtful collectors. Inspired by the beauty that surrounds them, their shops are filled with everything from cozy sweatshirts to chunky throws to handcrafted pottery and rare antiques. Twisted Sisters Boutique brings a modern flair to Western wear — think custom flannels, cow-print beanies and snake-print booties. The graphic designers behind the apparel at 5518 Designs marry bold colors with an eye for detail to create strikingly stylish hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and more. Meanwhile, Butte Stuff embraces the rustic, selling silver jewelry, leather flasks, trucker hats, metal and wood wall décor; Broadway Antiques holds three floors of old-timey furniture, dolls, clocks and dishes; and Butte Copper Company pays homage to one of the state’s best-known exports, selling kitchenware, mugs, bar tools, bracelets — and even copper-infused face masks.
Along with some of the most recognized names in hospitality — including Holiday Inn, Best Western and Fairfield Inn & Suites — Butte also offers specialty lodging that will fully immerse you in Big Sky Country. The boutique, twelve-room Miner’s Hotel is located in the middle of town, and it’s home to 51 Below Speakeasy — an underground bar serving up inventive snacks and cool cocktails. The Copper King Hotel may be in a small town, but they feature luxury “resort town” amenities. Montana’s Rib and Chop House is on-site, as well as Flawless Medical Spa. Copper King has an indoor pool, hot tub and sauna, fitness facility and beautiful outdoor patio space with a firepit. Fairmont Hot Springs Resort lies just 30 minutes down the road in Anaconda, Montana. There, you can ease into the mineral soaking pools that are thought to contain healing properties, and then whoosh down the 350-foot enclosed waterslide that’s also fed by the springs. Fairmont’s pools and waterslides are open all year (but only to overnight guests during the pandemic).
To see all that Butte has to offer, visit these sites:
This content was produced by Brand Ave. Studios in collaboration with Butte Elevated. The news and editorial departments of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had no role in its creation or display. For more information about Brand Ave. Studios, contact email@example.com.
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