Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Dillon, MT

  • Published 2023/03/06

Dillon is the seat of Beaverhead County, Montana, the state’s largest county by geographical area.

The city gets its name from the president of Union Pacific Railroad, Sidney Dillon.

A little city with much to do, Dillon is a great place to spend your holiday.

There is lots of room for exploration in this charming region of Montana.

The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest envelops Dillon, providing a wide range of recreational options and a quaint western town.

Relax with a refreshing drink at a local bar or brewery after a day of river rafting, shopping, and rodeos.

Anyone looking for a genuine Montana vacation will like the laid-back atmosphere and lack of crowds.

Here are the best things to do in Dillon, MT:

Visit a Ghost Town at Bannack State Park

Buildings at Bannack State Park

Rob Crandall /

Bannack State Park is home to a ghost town from the 1800s kept surprisingly well.

Locals love Bannack State Park, a state park and a famous ghost town.

Find it in the town of Bannack, Montana, 29 minutes away from Dillon.

It was Montana’s first territorial capital, abandoned entirely in the 1950s when the state turned it into a state park.

History marker of Bannack State Park

melissamn /

Grab a guidebook at the tourist center to start a self-guided tour of the ghost town’s main street.

Take advantage of the unique programs on Saturdays.

In July, the state park celebrates Bannack Days; in September, it holds the Living History Weekend.

These events bring pioneer history back to life through actors in era costumes and activities such as breakfast at the Hotel Meade, gold panning, etc.

A classroom at Bannack State Park

melissamn /

Learn about the County’s History at Beaverhead County Museum

This museum is in the center of Dillon.

Explore a fascinating chapter in the history of the region.

The famed explorers Lewis and Clark stopped by here during their expedition.

The Beaverhead County Museum‘s primary goal is to conserve and share the history of the area’s natural, physical, and human environments.

The museum is more than just a repository of artifacts, papers, and pictures.

It’s the hub for community service, education, and entertainment, bringing thousands of visitors each year.

Beaverhead County’s ownership and operation of the museum ensure the long-term viability of its historical collections.

The museum values volunteers, visitors, and a dedication to making history relevant.

Spend a Night at the Juransen Manor

Construction on the Juransen Manor in Dillon finished in 1906.

The manor is adorned with stained glass windows and magnificent woodwork that evoke a bygone era.

See southwest Montana from the newly renovated and upgraded main level.

You can host big gatherings in its spacious dining area and well-equipped kitchen.

Stay for a few days, a few weeks, or even just a few hours.

Visit Old Pitt’s Burial Site

Old Pitt, the world-famous circus elephant, spent her entire life on stage with Robinson’s Great Combination Show.

John Robinson III once owned the largest elephant herd in the world, but a financial panic compelled him to sell it to Ringling Brothers in 1916.

On its route to Salt Lake City from Missoula in August 1943, the circus performed a series of one-nighters across Montana.

They arrived at Dillon on August 6.

Storm clouds gathered just as the elephants were about to enter the theater to perform Ballet of the Elephants.

Then, a bolt of lightning struck Old Pitt, felling her immediately.

She died soon after. They also buried her where she fell.

The incident stunned the rest of the herd and circus owner, Zach Terrell, but the show must go on, after all.

Since then, Cirque du Soleil performers have laid flowers on Old Pitt’s burial site as a mark of respect.

They also put up a burial fence and a permanent marker on the site.

Visit the burial site of Old Pitt at the Beaverhead County Fairgrounds, behind the rodeo stands in the center of a field.

A tree also grew inside the fence, as if signifying that Old Pitt’s memory lives on.

Admire the Landscape at Clarks Lookout State Park

Clark’s Lookout State Park offers a bird’s eye perspective of the trail toward the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

On August 13, 1805, Captain William Clark climbed the peak overlooking the Beaverhead River to understand the landscape.

With an elevation of 5,118 feet, the park has a total area of 8.2 acres.

Signage explains the expedition’s navigational procedures.

Marvel at the breathtaking vista of the Beaverhead Valley and a memorial featuring Captain Clark’s three-compass readings from that day.

Enjoy the Water at Clark Canyon Reservoir

Scenic view of Clark Canyon Reservoir

Charles Baden /

Clark Canyon Reservoir‘s convenient location will delight those who enjoy fishing, boating, or other water sports.

Clark Canyon is the perfect place to cool down when it’s scorching outside.

A pelican on the waters of Clark Canyon Reservoir

Carine Boekee /

With 17 miles of beachfront, it is a popular fishing spot for those who enjoy the outdoors.

It’s a great place to catch brown and rainbow trout.

There are also picnic areas and a marina with boat ramps.

A picnic table near the Clark Canyon Reservoir

Sue Smith /

Wear Your Fancy Cowboy Hat at the Territorial Rodeo Days

Dillon launched the Territorial Rodeo Days in 2021.

It provides an opportunity for rodeo competitors from around the area to see who’s the best cowboy in the region.

Bulls, broncos, and rodeo fans fill the Beaverhead Fairgrounds for the annual event.

Bull riding, rodeo clowns, and roping all come together for a one-of-a-kind show.

The Beaverhead Chamber of Commerce holds the rodeo days as a fundraising event.

Ticket sales benefit the city of Dillon and its residents.

Drop by the Dillon Visitor Center

It’s a good idea to start your journey at the local visitor center.

Ask the Dillon Visitor Center‘s friendly staff members for information on the area and the state of Montana.

They can also give you a walking tour of Dillon.

Grab free pamphlets and maps available at the center to help you get started on your trip.

Explore Dillon on Wheels with Beaverhead Adventures

If you wish to explore Dillon’s trails on wheels, Beaverhead Adventures has your back.

There are several public routes around Dillon that make for excellent off-roading adventures.

Rent a side-by-side from Beaverhead Adventures and receive insider tips on the best places to go.

You can also hire or drive an ATV or UTV tour of Beaverhead County.

The Tendoy, Blacktail, and Pioneer mountain ranges provide the backdrop for the treks, which you can customize for accommodation and sightseeing.

Meet the Locals at Beaverhead Brewing Company

You can’t beat a refreshing beer with locals after a long day on the river or hiking.

The Beaverhead Brewing Company has become a favorite among beer drinkers around the state.

The brewery took its name from an old brewery in Dillon, which operated in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Newspaper clippings say that Beaverhead Brewery was famed for producing the “Best Beer.”

Henry Burfiend and his brother maintained the brewery until 1919 when Prohibition forced them to shut down.

The brewery was on the south side of Dillon, close to the current medical clinic.

Visit the Beaverhead Brewing Company for a good range of beers, friendly bartenders, and an enjoyable atmosphere free of crowds.

Make yourself at home, and don’t be surprised when you become a regular.

Go Camping at Southside RV Park

The Southside RV Park is a terrific spot to stay while seeing all that Southwest Montana’s Gold West area offers.

After a hard day on the road, camping is a great way to unwind.

Besides the well-kept amenities and spacious campsites, the park is also home to the picturesque Blacktail Creek, which meanders through it.

To top it all off, the proprietors are warm and welcoming.

In the heart of Dillon, the RV park is just nine blocks away from all the city’s amenities.

The RV Park might be in the woods, yet it’s only a short walk away from all the fun and adventure of rural Montana.

Grab Outdoor Gear at Patagonia Outlet

To the surprise of many tourists, Dillon boasts a good selection of shops.

If you’re going to Montana’s top Blue Ribbon Trout Rivers or doing outdoor activities, you’ll likely pass Dillon.

Head inside the Dillon Patagonia Outlet for a wide selection of discounted outdoor apparel and accessories for the whole family.

One of the best places to find bargains on high-quality outdoor gear is the Patagonia Outlet.

This store has been a city fixture for over 25 years; their staff can advise you on what to see and do.

Do you own any Patagonia gear that you no longer wear?

The site also caters worn wear repairs.

Watch the Latest Blockbuster Movies at Big Sky Cinema

Exterior of Big Sky Cinema

melissamn /

Up for a fun movie night?

If so, a Big Sky Cinema trip should be on the table!

Located in downtown Dillon, the Big Sky Cinema is popular for locals and visitors to enjoy great movies in a cozy setting.

Offering all the latest releases, from action thrillers and teen drama to horror and comedy, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at this theater.

This modern state-of-the-art movie theater offers a comfortable and spacious setting to enjoy the latest blockbusters.

The cinema also has a fully-stocked snack bar with various treats, including classic popcorn sodas, candies, and even savory options like single-sliced pizza, hotdogs, and nachos.

For a special treat, guests can upgrade to the VIP Experience package to enjoy their movie from luxurious, reserved seating.

Whether you’re looking for a great night out with friends or a fun family activity, Big Sky Cinema can provide the ultimate movie experience.

Check Out Local Artwork at Cathy Weber Artmaker

Dillon has many talented artists waiting to share their work with the world, and no place is better to experience local creativity than Cathy Weber Artmaker.

Cathy Weber Artmaker is the studio and gallery of popular local artist Cathy Weber.

The studio features a selection of Cathy’s colorful and unique works of art.

She also offers classes and workshops where she shares her skills and techniques with interested students.

Visitors can even commission their artwork from Cathy if they’d like a personalized piece for their collections.

Make sure to drop by Cathy Weber Artmaker to see her amazing works of art and appreciate the creativity of local artists.

Watch a Live Performance at Beier Auditorium

If you’re looking to witness some live entertainment, Beier Auditorium is where you can enjoy just that.

Located on the University of Montana Western campus, the Beier Auditorium is a historic theater that hosts various cultural events and live performances throughout the year.

From concerts and plays to dance performances and even cultural lectures, there’s always something happening at this popular venue that you would want to participate in, especially if you want to learn more about Dillon’s rich culture and heritage.

The auditorium features beautiful architecture and a cozy atmosphere, making it a great place to enjoy live entertainment.

So, don’t miss out on the opportunity to watch a live performance at Beier Auditorium.

Check Out What’s Happening at Beaverhead County Fair

There’s no better way to experience small-town festivities than attending the Beaverhead County Fair.

Held annually in late summer, the Beaverhead County Fair is a beloved tradition in Dillon that draws locals and visitors from across the region.

The fair features a range of activities and events, including live music, carnival rides, art exhibits, and rodeo competitions.

Visitors can also sample fair food, from funnel cakes to cotton candy.

You can also purchase locally made crafts, arts, and antiques at the craft fair.

Beaverhead County Fair is an excellent opportunity to learn about Dillon and the surrounding area.

Check out what’s happening at this event if you’re in town during the fair season.

Enjoy the Natural Scenery at Beaverhead Golf Club

Every golfer will agree that the best part about playing golf is the natural scenery that comes with it.

In Dillon, Beaverhead Golf Club is the best destination that offers just that.

Golfers will appreciate the scenic views and challenging holes at the Beaverhead Golf Club.

This 9-hole golf course features stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys and various obstacles to test your skills and accuracy.

The club provides golfers a driving range and practice green to work on their game before teeing off.

The course also has a pro shop and restaurant, making it an excellent spot for golfing and relaxation.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go Trout Fishing at Beaverhead River

Autumn trees surrounding Beaverhead River

Teresa Otto /

You may find one of the region’s best trout-fishing rivers here.

The Beaverhead River travels around 80 miles from Clark Canyon Reservoir to the Jefferson River confluence.

It’s 14 minutes away from downtown Dillon.

Beaverhead River is one of Montana’s most famous and renowned rivers, lying along the Lewis and Clark Expedition route.

The river is full of outfitters and guides that provide fishing trips and tours for anyone who wishes to try catching wild trout.

You’ll quickly learn that this town offers some of the best fishing in the world.

You may also try wade fishing and guided float trips with one of the local experts.

Take Photos with the Rocks at the Beaverhead Rock State Park

The Beaverhead Rock State Park, just an 18-minute drive from Dillon, has a massive protrusion of rock that looks like a swimming beaver’s head.

It’s in the middle of nowhere, too.

You can’t go to the rock itself, but you can see it from a safe distance and take photos.

In addition to the lack of facilities, this open park is also devoid of personnel.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t make it out to the rock.

The rock itself is humongous; you can see it from anywhere.

In 1805, a guide on the Lewis and Clark Expedition found this rock, which led the group to the Native Americans living there.

The Native Americans provided the explorers with horses for the rest of their journey through the Rockies.

Cruise the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway

Thanks to the well-maintained and signed road, anyone may enjoy the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway.

Anyone passing through this portion of Montana should take the time to see this less-traveled region.

Federally authorized, the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway is a forty-nine-mile road that connects Dillon to the Wise River.

Because it’s a well-maintained paved road throughout, the Pioneer Byway differs from many of the other beautiful drives included on this site.

Because of this, the route is suitable for many types of vehicles, including automobiles, motorcycles, bikes, and even trailers.

Montana’s Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway is a scenic route that runs through the region’s center.

Historic Coolidge, breathtaking vistas of the Pioneer Mountains’ highest peaks, and the gorgeous Wise River are just a few highlights of this trip’s itinerary.

Final Thoughts

Many roads converge in Dillon, giving travelers a natural starting point to explore Southwest Montana.

This makes Dillon a historical and an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true.

As an activity hotspot, Dillon’s reputation has endured for years.

Start planning your Dillon trip today!

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