If you’re heading to Butte from Missoula or visa versa, the 64 mile Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway is a great alternative to Interstate 90. It starts in Drummond, a not at all scenic, 1-horse town (population 309) that bills itself as the “Biggest Bull Shippers” in the country. I “ship” you not. We stopped for gas and nothing else there.
Our next stop was historic Phillipsburg, a charming 19th century mining town in the heart of Montana sapphire country (population 820 as of 2010). We strolled up and down the short main street in about 5 minutes, grabbed a coffee and indulged in some Montana bbq for lunch.
We enjoyed the lovely views Georgetown Lake and Silver Lake (see top feature picture) along the way. Georgetown Lake is famous for its fishing in the summer and ice fishing in the winter. Unfortunately, the sky didn’t clear for a good pic at Georgetown Lake.
We didn’t stop in Anaconda, nearly named Copperopolis, it was named after the Anaconda Copper Mining Company and at one time this small town was the world’s largest supplier of copper, just as electricity became ubiquitous.
Overall, it’s a pleasant drive with a backdrop of conifer-carpeted mountains and sage-brushed hills along Flint Creek.
If you’re into historic mining towns, ghost towns (3), and a sapphire mine this is your route. (There’s a waterfall out here somewhere too.) In any event, it’s certainly more interesting than Interstate 90. If you have the time to spare, just do it.