15 Best Things to Do in Butte, MT

Butte, MT
Radoslaw Lecyk / shutterstock.com

The city of Butte is tucked in Southwest Montana and has a colorful mining past.

It is known to have once been close to the pulse of the American West.

The city is the county seat of Silver Bow County and has a population of 34,494 according to the 2020 census.

It was established as a mining camp in 1864, and in the latter part of the century, it experienced a surge of development and was the first major industrial city in Montana.

It was a rich mining trove and the largest city to the west of the Mississippi in the late 1900s, and it was christened the 'richest hill on earth' because of its numerous copper deposits.

Between the late 19thand early 20th centuries, it experienced a golden age as a copper boomtown, one of the largest in the American West.

Employment opportunities opened up in the mines and attracted swathes of immigrants from Asia and Europe, particularly from Ireland.

The city is also famous for historical events involving Socialist politics and labor unions and was the site of the biggest hard rock mining disaster in American history.

These days, the city still boasts elegant mansions, historical structures, and well-preserved Victorian buildings and is one of the nation's largest National Historical Landmark districts.

It is also an excellent site for recreational activities, such as hiking, fishing, boating, trolley tours, mountain biking, cross-country and downhill skiing, and more.

If your interest in this vividly rendered city is piqued, take a look at this list of the best things to do in Butte, Montana.

See Mining History at the World Museum of Mining

View of World Museum of Mining
Radoslaw Lecyk / Shutterstock.com

The World Museum of Mining is located in an actual mine yard.

It sits on the grounds of Orphan Girl Mine, which was active from the 1860s to the 1970s.

It delves deep into the history of Butte, featuring exhibits, displays, artifacts, equipment, structures, mining paraphernalia, and old historic buildings, all piecing together a picture of the city in its glory days.

View of World Museum of Mining
Radoslaw Lecyk / Shutterstock.com

Walk around 50 exhibit buildings, examine lasting mementos, and look at 66 primary exhibits at the mine yard as you unspool stories of the past.

Explore a recreated town coming from the turn of the century and almost see the miners and their blackened faces as they come home at the end of a workday.

View of World Museum of Mining
Radoslaw Lecyk / Shutterstock.com

Don't miss the underground tour as you walk 100 feet into the Orphan Girl Mine, which reveals one of the exposed mining veins in North America and shows underground mining equipment, the original shaft station, and rocks that one can touch.

Here, you will look through the eyes of long-ago miners and appreciate Butte's rich mining history.

View of World Museum of Mining
Radoslaw Lecyk / Shutterstock.com

Eat at Casagranda's Steakhouse

Casagranda's Steakhouse is found in the heart of uptown Butte at the historic Bertoglio Warehouse dating back to 1900.

It is a lavish restaurant serving elegant and acclaimed cuisine, a full-service bar, and sumptuous wines.

These are all found in a fancy setting that features a traditional steakhouse design with furnished tables, dark wood and leather, and a serene environment.

Casagranda's Steakhouse started out specializing in hand-cut and seasoned Rocky Mountain ground beef and began to expand its menu from there.

Today at the steakhouse, you may sample made-to-order steaks, pasta, appetizers, seafood, chicken sautees, soups, dessert, salads, freshly baked bread, and sushi, the most recent addition to the menu.

Their full-service bar has a vast selection of wines from different global locations, mixed cocktails, and craft beers by the bottle or on tap.

You are sure to enjoy this classic place with its steakhouse ambiance and welcoming atmosphere, so make a dinner reservation now and take your entire family for an unforgettable Butte meal.

See the Charms of Copper King Mansion

View of Copper King Mansion
Sigl.maria, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Copper King Mansion is a privately owned mansion built in 1884 by William Andrews Clark, one of Montana's famous 'Copper Kings' that helped Butte thrive as a city.

It is an elegant and gorgeous place containing 34 rooms, including a grand ballroom, a full library, a billiard room, and a chapel, all with stunningly preserved fixings like chandeliers, stained glass windows, frescoed ceilings, lovely woodwork, and old-time furnishing.

View of Copper King Mansion
Drown Soda, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The mansion has a bed and breakfast that is open all year.

It will allow you a night of decadence as you board in a lavishly light and airy bedroom and will see all your needs attended to.

They also have narrated tours, going in-depth into the past of the mansion, the people who built it and called it home, and the constructive details that make up the building.

Witness the different charms of Copper King Mansion and discover what makes it a historical icon in Butte.

View the Mineral Collections at the MBMG Mineral Museum

View a display of some of Montana's finest rock and mineral collections at this institution located on the Montana Tech campus.

MBMG stands for Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, and the museum is among the oldest in Butte.

Here, you may view prized specimens from the collection, such as a 400-pound smoky quartz crystal and an impressively large 27.49-ounce gold nugget discovered in the Highland Mountains in 1989.

You will also find samples of the copper, zinc, and manganese ore minerals that helped seal Butte's reputation as the 'richest hill on earth.'

Other riches are meteorites and fossils, azurite and malachite from Arizona, amethyst geodes from Brazil, native copper from Michigan, blue sapphires from nearby Yogo Gulch, and more outstanding specimens from around the world.

The museum now holds 13,000 specimens, with over 1,000 on display, including exhibits specifically devoted to minerals in Butte and Montana.

Whether or not you are a 'rock hound,' you are sure to be fascinated by these marvels of geology.

Be Fascinated by Berkeley Pit

Scenic View of  Berkeley Pit
Ric Schafer / Shutterstock.com

The Berkeley Pit is a most unusual sight in Butte that can't be missed.

It is a former open-pit copper mine, which is 7,000 feet long, 5,600 feet wide, and 1,600 feet deep filled with highly acidic water, chemicals, and heavy metals seeping into the enclosing rocks.

It is filled with acid water, copper, iron, arsenic, zinc, sulfuric acid, and unique microscopic life forms.

The Berkeley Pit is an environmental hazard that is nevertheless a popular visitor attraction with platforms over the toxic lake and chances to learn more about its strange history.

Scenic View of  Berkeley Pit
evenfh / Shutterstock.com

It started in 1955 and was a large truck-operated open-pit endeavor that continued until mining stopped in 1982; by the 1980s, almost 1.5 billion tons of material had been taken from the pit.

This included over 290 million tons of copper ore, enabling Butte to own the title as the 'richest hill on earth.

The Berkeley Pit certainly has an odd claim to fame as one of the few places in the world where anyone can pay to see and learn about toxic waste.

Scenic View of  Berkeley Pit
McWhinneyMedia / Shutterstock.com

Read at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Library

The Butte-Silver Bow Public Library is an education-focused building that offers its patrons a wide range of services.

The library has a vast collection of reading and intellectual materials to use for research: fiction and non-fiction novels, large print books, ebooks, digital audiobooks, and audiovisual titles.

It is a spacious place with comfortable nooks and crannies to read and work in, as well as a friendly staff always ready to help you.

Take your kids to their Children's Library, which is full of all sorts of materials for children, such as books, audiotapes, videos, and DVDs.

The library hosts storytimes and take-home crafts events for children and reading and activity packets for families.

Pickups, mail orders, and delivery services are available for patrons, and you can access their interlibrary loans and reference services on the Internet.

Libraries are important for growth and development, so drop by this institution today if you require some intellectual stimulation.

Discover the Stories of Dumas Brothel Museum

Front View of Dumas Brothel Museum
Acroterion, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Passed through different owners and madams, the Dumas Brothel Museum in Butte was the longest-running brothel in United States history; it was open from 1890 to 1982,

Today, the Dumas Brothel Museum is dedicated to telling the story of the brothel, which was founded in 1890 by Joseph and Arthur Nadeau and was frequented by the copper miners in Butte.

Listen to stories of the building and the women who made its name, then look at the artifacts and antiques lining each room.

Go on a tour of the building and discover the dark crannies of the basement, the other secret passageways, and the prohibition-era bottles of alcohol tucked away for years, as well as the sealed tunnels to the Butte mines and the courthouse.

Rumors sometimes buzz about paranormal activity in this museum, so be prepared for intriguing stories from your friendly guide.

Despite its controversial origins, you will find yourself fascinated by the decades of history around this place and how it shaped the city of Butte.

Have a Drink at Headframe Spirits

After a long day, it's a good idea to relax and unwind at this locally owned and operated micro-distillery in uptown Butte.

They create high-quality spirits, manufacture equipment for other distilleries, and have won awards for their micro-distilled small-batch spirits like whiskey, gin, and vodka.

Their name is inspired by headframes lowering miners into the earth in celebration of the mining spirit at Butte.

Their distillery uses some of the most cutting-edge technology in the micro-distillery industry, designed for maximum quality and yield.

Their tasting room is a leisurely place to hang out with friends, where you can sample cocktails and spirits and learn more about the history of Butte's miners.

Be a part of Butte's rich drinking legacy as you toast with your friends and drink at Headframe Spirits.

Watch a Show at Covellite Theatre

Covellite Theatre is located in uptown Butte and is a medium-sized theatre of 350 capacity that hosts music and events.

The Theatre was built as the First Presbyterian Church in 1896-1897 and has gone through changes over the decades, finally earning the name Covellite Theatre in the 1990s.

The building comprises Gothic architecture, granite stonework, detailed sandstone, vaulted ceilings, and timber trusses, making a magnificent space for your favorite events.

View of Covellite Theatre
davidrh / Shutterstock.com

Downstairs is the smaller Uptown Lounge of 150 capacity, a bar-style lounge also hosting smaller entertainments.

Here, you can grab a table or lounge on the sofas while partaking in wine, beer, and canned cocktails.

The owners have made additions to this Theatre since 2015 with recent improvements in video and audio systems that make it compatible with many events.

Today, the theatre features eclectic genres such as heavy metal, blues, Americana, funk rock, rockabilly, reggae, indie-folk, and many more.

The Theatre is currently being managed by a non-profit organization facilitating events that benefit the city of Butte and Southwest Montana.

The Historic Clark Chateau Museum and Gallery is an impressively preserved mansion erected in 1898 for the copper magnate Charles Clark, the oldest son of the 'Copper King' William Andrews Clark.

Tour this historic building, a haven of space and support for the Butte community with programs focusing on the arts, humanities, and cultural enrichment.

It is a spacious 26-room mansion that now features an art and museum center and holds a stirring collection of literature, artwork, and artifacts that chronicle the life of Charles Clark and his family.

The museum focuses on the culture and ethnic history of the city of Butte, and the arts center features works from various artists on a six-week cycle.

The Chateau also has an annual youth art exhibit that hosts works from public schools in Butte and other events and performances.

It offers readings from authors and poets, book clubs, stage play readings, dance and music workshops, and other public programs.

Come and appreciate the thriving community space that has been carved out at this historical Chateau.

Pay Tribute at the Granite Mountain Speculator Mine Memorial

Voew pf Granite Mountain Speculator Mine Memorial
Banjodog at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

High above the north side of Butte, this monument memorializes the greatest loss of life in hard rock mining history.

It was the site of a tragic fire that razed the area in 1917 and claimed the lives of 168 miners.

This tragedy sparked walkouts, protests, and efforts to improve the conditions, safety, and wages of the working-class folks in Butte.

Find this historic site at a high viewpoint over Butte, with panoramic vistas over what was once a bustling industry.

Listen to the audio accounts of that tragic day, read the name inscriptions of those who were lost, and pay your respects.

Also, you may learn about the town's past through interpretive plaques and purchase a brick to support the memorial's upkeep.

It is a fitting tribute not just to those who died on that fateful day but to the brotherhood of miners with a vital role in the town's history who risked their lives at work every single day.

Learn Cultural History at Mai Wah Museum

The Mai Wah Museum is located at the Mai Wah Noodle Parlor building and Wah Chong Tai building and at 17 West Mercury Street in Butte.

Its mission centers on documentation, research, and public education about the culture, history, and current conditions of the Asian community in the Rocky Mountains.

The Chinese communities in Butte were vital to the development of Montana, and the Mai Wah Museum offers exhibitions of their experience upon settling in the Rocky Mountain West during the late 19th century.

At this museum, there are displays and collections of artifacts depicting the long-ago lives of these settlers, with relics and newspapers that date back to 1897.

The Wai Chong Tai Mercantile and the adjoining noodle parlor now have around 2,500 artifacts dating back to 1905.

The Mercantile is among the most complete Chinese stores in the country, and here you will have a full picture of the ethnic cosmopolitan composition of Butte.

Visit this museum to know more about the history of Chinese immigration to the American West.

Try to coincide your visit with the Chinese New Year parade every February to join them in their annual celebrations.

Be Awed by Our Lady of the Rockies

View of Our Lady of the Rockies
Jontmh / Shutterstock.com

High up on the mountainside in Butte, you will spot the glowing figure of a woman with her hands held out.

She is Our Lady of the Rockies, a 90-foot-tall statue built to resemble Mary, the mother of Jesus, and is a lovingly-crafted project by Butte resident Bob O'Bill.

O'Bill's wife was diagnosed with cancer in 1979, and he made a promise to construct a statue of Our Lady Guadalupe if she survived – and so she did.

Now, Our Lady of the Rockies is the third tallest statue in the United States.

View of Our Lady of the Rockies
Jontmh / Shutterstock.com

The statue was constructed out of labor, materials, and money from the locals, and it took a united effort from volunteers, engineers, construction workers, and even the National Guard to get her up the mountain.

Our Lady of the Rockies is dedicated to all women of the world regardless of religion and beliefs.

Beside the statue is a small chapel with an observation deck and a Women's Memorial wall where one can immortalize any woman who has made a difference in their lives.

From June to October, there are scheduled tours to head up the mountain road and look at the statue up close – hop a bus headed up the mountain to pay her a close and personal visit.

Be Entertained at the Mother Lode Theatre

In 1923, the masons constructed the Mother Lode Theatre for use in ceremonies, and it was transformed into a movie theatre during the Great Depression.

It was originally called Fox Theatre and was later renamed the Mother Lode in honor of the Butte mining legacy.

After years in service, the theatre was donated to Butte-Silver Bow in 1983 and went through a 3-million-dollar renovation in 1996.

Now it is a venue for the performing arts, hosts an array of artistically important programs, and strives to create a welcoming environment at the theater for its artists, audiences, staff, and volunteers.

The Mother Lode Theatre hosts national touring companies that feature music tributes, dramas, and Broadway plays and is home to cultural events, concerts, symphonies, and repertories.

With 1,200 theatre seats, a traditional proscenium ¾ stage with a 419 by 25 opening, and an orchestra pit, it remains among the best live entertainment venues in the state of Montana.

Explore Thompson Park

Thompson Park is a municipal recreation area with 25 miles of non-motorized trails where you can go hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and pursue many other recreations.

Out here, get a good look at the backcountry with its mining history, unusual rock formations, scenic vistas, and lush wildlife.

Follow the 4.5-mile trail of the Milwaukee Railroad, the scenic spine of the park that passes through 2 tunnels and a 600-foot steel trestle bridge.

Visit picnic areas such as the Lion's Den, the Lower Eagle's Nest, and the Sagebrush Flats, which are accessible to trails and well equipped with cooking grills and restroom facilities for the convenience of families on an outing.

And play some disc golf at the 18-hole course, Eagle's Nest Disc Golf, one of the 3 in Butte and among the first disc golf courses to be registered in the country.

Thompson Park is a great place to escape the city bump and grind for a while and stretch your legs while walking in the heart of the Rockies.

Final Thoughts

Uncover rich history, wondrous attractions, and numerous opportunities at Butte.

Take this list along so you'll know what you shouldn't miss at this Montana destination.

Butte is a city where you can see sights that a person doesn't see every day, so grab the chance now and find out what it holds for you.