You are welcome to contact the Garnet Preservation Association (GPA) or the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with any questions or concerns that you may have.
Garnet Preservation Association
PO Box 18295
Missoula, MT 59808
Bureau of Land Management
3255 FT Missoula Road
Missoula, MT 59804
Frequently Asked Questions
Many visitors have the same questions that they are looking for, we have provided the most common ones that we hear.
Q: How far is Garnet off the highway?
A. About 11 miles coming from either highway.
Q: Can I bring my dog?
A. Yes. All animals must be on a leash, if you don’t have one we can provide one for you.
Q: How can I volunteer?
A. Contact the Bureau of Land Management at 406.329.3914 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How do I find an ancestor?
A. Contact email@example.com and Garnet Preservation Association will help you find your ancestors.
Q: Is there a restaurant?
A. No, but you can bring a lunch/picnic with you. Picnic tables are in various locations.
Q: What are your hours?
A. 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily (closed after 4:30 p.m.)
Q: When are the main buildings open?
A. Memorial Day to October 1, yearly. Sometimes this changes due to the weather, please contact the BLM for exact dates.
Q: Can I rent a cabin?
A. Cabins are rented during the winter months and are accessible by snowmobile, cross country ski or snowshoe only. Contact BLM.
Q: Is water available to drink?
A. Yes, there are two water pumps to fill your water bottles. Soda and bottled water is available at the Visitors Center during the season.
Q: Can I pan for gold?
A. Yes. Pay dirt from the Top-O-Deep is available for purchase at the Visitor Center and there are water troughs and pans to use.
Elsewhere in the area with gold at near record prices, all public lands that might contain gold have claims staked on them by miners. That means the claimant has the exclusive right to mine for any gold that might be there. At this time, we know of no areas that you might pan for gold without the prior permission of the claimant.
Q: Is there handicap parking?
A. Two spots are available near the lower part of Garnet. Follow the signs.
Q: Are there bathrooms?
A. There are two Vault Toilets. One, at the parking area on top, and one below, by the town.
Q: Is there cell phone service?
A. No. Garnet is very remote. In addition there is no electricity or running water.
Q: Is there emergency service?
A. Emergency services are located in Drummond, Philipsburg or Missoula. The BLM Park Ranger has access to radio services to contact the appropriate persons/facilities.
Q: How can I become a member of the GPA and help Garnet?
A. Fill out a membership form and send it in along with your check. You will receive a letter and a membership card in the mail.
Q: How much is the entrance fee and when is it charged?
A. The fee for Garnet is $3.00 per person for those 16 years old and older. All federal passes are also accepted. The fee is charged during the non-winter months when staff is on site. All members of the Garnet Preservation Association, Inc. receive FREE entrance fees, any time that they go to Garnet.
Q: Are guided tours available?
A. Guided tours are available whenever BLM staff are on site. Simply ask one of our park rangers for a guided tour. Tours may also be arranged in advance by calling the BLM office in Missoula at 406-329-3914.
Q: What caused people to come to Garnet to start the town?
A. When gold was discovered in Montana in the 1860s, prospectors also found gold in Bear Gulch. They followed Bear Gulch to its source and concluded that the source of the gold, also called the “Mother Lode,” was somewhere in the area. At that time miners lacked both the technology to go deep underground or to transport the gold ore to the smelters. That all changed with the arrival of the railroad down along the Clark Fork River. By 1898, the Garnet area had gone from a few prospectors to a booming town complete with stores, saloons, hotels, and even a school house.
Q: When did Garnet become a ghost town?
That depends on how you define a ghost town. Garnet’s initial boom ended fairly quickly. By 1912, many of the mines had played out, and a fire in the down town destroyed many of the businesses. With the advent of World War I, most remaining residents left for better paying jobs in the defense industry. There was also a second boom in Garnet during the Depression when out-of-work miners returned to Garnet to work over the old mines and find free housing in abandoned buildings. This boom played out with the advent of World War II. In 1947, the last of the original residents, Frank Davey, died in Garnet. Many people believe Garnet became a ghost town at that time. However, several other occasional or part time residents came and went over the years. Not until the early 1960s did the last few of these residents depart.
Q: When did the BLM and GPA begin managing Garnet?
A. The BLM undertook the preservation of Garnet in 1972 with the donation to the BLM of the 20-acre mining claim that encompassed the bulk of the historic buildings. GPA formed in 1983 and have been assisting the BLM with their efforts ever since.
Q: Why are none of the buildings restored to their condition of 100 years ago?
A. The BLM manages Garnet in a state of “arrested decay.” This simply means that we are attempting to freeze the buildings in time in order to retain an authentic ghost town atmosphere. We do not bring in buildings from other places to fill the town, and we make every attempt to retain every board in each building. In that way, when you visit Garnet you can touch the authentic historic fabric that makes the old town an authentic ghost town.
Q: What kind of mining was done?
Before Garnet was a town the area was placer mined. This is the type of mining employed simple tools such as a shovel or gold pan and depended on water to wash the dirt away and retain the gold. Once Garnet was a booming gold camp, the mining was mostly hard rock underground mining, although some placer mining persisted. Hard rock mining required lots of equipment and skilled underground miners. These miners produced gold ore, which is gold imbedded in the rock. It required processing at a mill to melt the gold out of the ore.
Q: What is the elevation of Garnet?
A. The town is 5,995 feet above sea level.
Q: What type of clothing should we wear?
A. In the spring, which is still May in the mountains, you are encouraged to bring along a jacket, umbrella, hat, gloves for it can get cold and rainy at that time. There are times that it has snowed in Garnet during June.
In the summer it gets quite warm, good shoes are a must for hiking, as it is primitive, with good trails.
Q: Is there any food available at Garnet?
A. There isn’t any food available for purchase at Garnet. Pack a lunch, or bring snacks as it can be a long day. Fresh water comes out of pumps, but bottled water and soda can be purchased in the Visitor Center
Q: What type of Facilities do you have?
A. The only facilities at Garnet are two outside bathrooms. They are located at the top of the hill by the parking area and at the bottom of the hill by the town.
Q: How far do I have to walk to get from the parking lot to Garnet Ghost Town?
A. From the parking lot there is a path down a small hill to the ghost town, there are benches along the way, should you need to rest, an outlook for a view of the town, and at the bottom is the bathroom and one of the water pumps.
Q: How Do I Acquire a “Explore Montana Ghost Towns” Montana License Plate?
A. Go to any Montana DMV and apply for one, or when you do your license plate renewal you can ask for one. They are $20 extra on your license plate fee.