Bannack State Park rests within an old Montana ghost town from 1862. The area was named after the Bannock Indians and once served as the capital of the Montana Territory before it was moved to Virginia City. Guests to the park can still see buildings remaining from this time period which has been restored.
The park is located in the southern part of the state and is situated near the border of Idaho. Bannack State Park is located near a few major cities and towns, such as Bozeman and Jackson. The park is also next to a few beautiful outdoor destinations, such as Grasshopper Creek and Beaverhead River.
You’ll find quite a few unique outdoor things to do while exploring Bannack State Park. One is to explore the ghost town. The town features 60 historic structures visitors can visit, like an old drug store, saloon, hotel, and gallows. Take a self-guided tour through the park and use a pamphlet which will inform you more about the buildings and area. Visitors can also take a guided tour with a park ranger. This lasts about an hour and will provide you with some interesting tidbits about the town.
At night, guests could also go on a spooky ghost walk. Illuminated by nothing more than your flashlight and the stars, your trek through the town will let you meet the ghosts of former residents. You’ll be able to hear more about their life and even have the chance to chat with them.
While here try your hand at gold panning. This activity is perfect for all ages to attempt and you’ll be helped by a park ranger. At first, you’ll practice in large water tubs to learn the right methods when it comes to panning. Once you’ve learned the correct techniques, head down to Grasshopper Creek to try panning for gold. Screens, shovels, and pans are provided.
Camping at Bannack State Park
As you head out on your outdoor adventure, book an RV in Beaverhead County and camp at Bannack State Park. The park offers two different campgrounds for RVs: the Road Agent Campground and the Vigilante Campground. The Road Agent Campground has eight sites which are bordered by ancient cottonwood trees. Reservations are not required for this spot as it’s a first-come-first-serve campground. The Vigilante Campground offers 16 sites and comes with water stations. Reservations are recommended for this motorhome campground.
Each site, regardless of which campground you stay at, includes a picnic table, fire ring, trash pickup, and restrooms. Firewood is available for campers who would like to use their fire ring. There’s also a gift shop located near the campground where folks looking for a gift will be able to purchase souvenirs.
Exploring the Area
For those who would like to venture out to explore some interesting nearby attractions with your RV, you’ll find a handful of places to stop by at. About an hour away in Butte is the World Museum of Mining. Created in 1964, the museum is dedicated to telling the story behind the history of mining. The museum offers numerous exhibits that feature old mining equipment. There’s also an underground mine tour visitors can sign up for which will take you 100 feet below ground in a mining car. While here, you’ll also be able to see the iconic Orphan Girl vein which is one of the only publicly exposed veins in North America.
Should you be looking for a road trip, take a two-hour drive in your camper to Helena to see the Montana State Capitol. Created in 1902, this government structure holds the Montana legislature. Tours can be taken of the chambers where your guide will explain more about how the local government works. During your tour, you’ll also be able to see historic architecture and various pieces of art. There’s also a small museum inside the building which is famous for its Women’s Mural. This mural celebrates how women helped to build Montana.
If you’d like to check out another ghost town, drive to Virginia City with your travel trailer to view Nevada City. Built during the 1880s, the city eventually fell into disrepair before being restored in the 1940s. Guests can explore the many historical buildings and even check out historic player pianos and calliopes.
Because of Bannack State Park’s slightly secluded location, you’ll need to travel a few minutes away to a nearby town or city for gas. This is also necessary for those who want to visit a restaurant. If you’d like to try some local culinary specialties while visiting the area, some to consider are blackberries, pickle sandwiches, and bison burgers.