Bannack State Park: a Ghost Town in Southwest Montana, USA


Bannack was a gold mining town, founded in 1862.  The remaining structures from that town are now part of Bannack State Park, a ghost town in the very southwest corner of Montana, USA.  I have been to a few ghost towns since moving to Montana.  Bannack is rather impressive in comparison. 


Most of the buildings remaining in Bannack are still in decent shape and open for perusal, despite their age.  Wallpaper and linoleum are pealing back to reveal years and transitions.  The mind certainly wanders as you study the interiors of, what used to be, private homes and the contents of more public spaces.  It is fascinating to study each corner of these grounds.


There are a few really noteworthy specimens of old Bannack buildings that, I would imagine, you will naturally be drawn to.  My favorite is the hotel.  There is a beautiful, sweeping staircase that takes you from the lobby to the second floor, where you can enter into all the rooms.  The kitchen still has its industrial-like stove that, in its day, heated plenty of meals to accommodate guests.  I get a kick out of living history.  It is a treat for me to imagine what it might have been like to pass through town and stay at that hotel. 


The park offers more than just walking through musty corridors and looking out rolled glass panes.  While we were there, they had a magic show in the church.  (There was no additional admission.)  The magicians incorporated the audience and we were certainly entertained.  The magic show is not regularly scheduled.  Bannack State Park has a variety of events and activities throughout the year.  Visit to find details. 


During the summer months, Bannack State Park provides gold panning, free of charge, for young and old.  Pans are resting on a heap of dirt, waiting for people to borrow them.  Troughs of water are nearby, along with helpful instructors to give you a crash course in panning for gold.  If you find a fleck, you get to take it home with you.  You may also find tiny bits of garnet, which are also given to you as souvenirs. 

Pans, dirt, screens, water, and guidance are available in order to pan for gold.  You may also find bits of garnet to take home with you. 

Pans, dirt, screens, water, and guidance are available in order to pan for gold.  You may also find bits of garnet to take home with you. 

Bannack State Park is about a half hour drive from Dillon, Montana and not too far from the Idaho border.  (A couple of hot springs are nearby too, in case you want to incorporate some rest and relaxation into your day.)  Admission to the park is free for Montana Residents.  All others pay a flat rate of $6 per vehicle load.


In case you miss the sign, or verbal warnings:  be aware of rattlesnakes.  They do have rattlesnakes at Bannack State Park.  Do not be fearful, just be mindful.  Look before you step.  Stay on the boardwalk.  Pray.  You should be ok. 

Find out more about Bannack State Park at