Great America Road Trip Day 9: Garnet Ghost Town

This morning I awoke to find myself in a large comfy bed with crisp white sheets. After traveling in the Rialta for a week, Daniel and I decided to stay in a hotel for a night. We had some chores to do and also wanted a break from camping to pause and reflect.

And that is how we found ourselves in the Missoula La Quinta Inn. Here, we were able to relax and recharge our batteries (both literally and figuratively). We washed our clothes, worked on our blogs, took baths, and enjoyed not bumping our heads inside the Rialta for a while.

Garnet Ghost Town

Today’s major point of interest was Garnet Ghost Town. A thriving mining community in the late 1800’s, the town was abandoned when the mines shut down. By 1920, Garnet was completely uninhabited.

As one of Montana’s most intact ghost towns, Garnet is now protected and efforts are underway to preserve the remaining buildings. A visitor center provides more details about the town’s history, although it is now closed to the public. There is plenty to see, however, by just strolling among Garnet’s deserted buildings and peeking in the windows.

Garnet is located on the top of a little mountain which we hadn’t exactly been expecting. The drive involves an 11-mile climb up a small windy road – half of which isn’t paved. There’s a great viewpoint at the top of the hill, however, complete with a picnic table.

A view of the entire town
I love the false fronts on these buildings
One of Garnet’s 3 saloons


Walking around Garnet
Ye olde fashioned garage
Guess how many seats this outhouse has? Four! All the outhouses we saw had a minimum of two seats. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
View from the Garnet Mountain overlook

Oh, those Fabulous Montana Rest Stops!

After visiting Garnet, we continued east along I-90 as we traveled towards Yellowstone National Park. Here’s a couple of things that I couldn’t help noticing:

  • The speed limit is 80 miles per hour. 80!! I’ve never seen that before.
  • The rest stops in Montana are amazing. The bathrooms are so much nicer than the ones in Washington state. These ones even have hand soap and mirrors! What a concept!
The rest stops in Montana are downright luxurious!
Our little Rialta parked in a giant bus/truck parking area.
The rest area included a couple of short trails.

Camping on a Montana Cattle Ranch

We hadn’t yet booked a campsite for the evening, so as I drove Daniel found us a sweet location on a cattle ranch near Harrison. He used an app called HipCamp, which is basically like AirBnB for camping. With the app, you can find unique places to camp on private property.

Daniel and I drove out to a field in the middle of nowhere and found our spot for the night near a hay barn. Our host set up a picnic table with a jug of water for us. It was primitive but very private. We loved it.

Daniel built a roaring fire and we watched the sun set over the distant snow-capped mountains. There were no clouds in the sky, for once, so we had a great view of the stars once it got dark.

Our camp spot for the evening
Daniel takes some photos just before sunset
We love it here!
A rustic but very functional set up at our camp site
The view
Camp fire time!

Where are we now?

We are in Garnet Ghost Town, Montana!

Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Great American Road Trip Status: Day 9

Starting Location: Missoula, MT
Ending Location: Harrison, MT
Miles Today: 229.2
Total Trip Mileage: 1209.3

For more details on our Great America (Socially Distanced) Road Trip, see my previous posts:

Day 8: Going-to-the-Sun Road
Day 7: Avalanche Lake Trail and Polebridge
Day 6: Rocky Point Nature Trail
Day 5: Welcome to Glacier National Park
Day 4: Welcome to Montana

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