The Deer Lodge National Forest (of Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest) is located in southwestern Montana and is comprised of 1,194,194 acres. There are 36 developed campgrounds of which 16 met the selection criteria.
The Deerlodge National Forest is divided into two units. These units enclose diverse habitats that will delight visitors of all ages. The mixture of high alpine zones, bunchgrass range, old-growth forest, streamside willow corridors, and wetlands support more than 150 native species of mammals, fish, birds, and reptiles. Forest visitors can observe antelope, moose, mule deer, mountain goat, and bighorn sheep from or near several of the camping locations, such as Stony Creek or Lowland campground.
Much of the Deerlodge National Forest area's history is linked to mining. The richness and variety of minerals found here brought many to the area then and now. The area east of Butte is formed by a 70 million year old dome of granite known as the Boulder Batholith. En route to Delmoe Lake campground, visitors can see softly-rounded, weathered boulders from this Batholith. The gentle rounded shapes give little indication of the silver, gold, copper, and other minerals found below. In the western unit of the Deerlodge, sapphires were found in the West Fork of Rock Creek from 1899 until 1943. Today, visitors still try their luck at prospecting for hidden treasures. Check with the appropriate Forest Service Ranger District Office for permit requirements.
A unique recreation feature of the Deerlodge National Forest is Sheepshead Mountain Recreation Area. This Recreation Area is located about nine miles north of Butte, MT. With the support of eighteen separate organizations, Sheepshead Mountain has become a superb wheelchair friendly recreation area. A 4.5 mile paved trail and accessible fishing spots together with shaded picnic tables, make for a delightful day's outing.
Along with the diversity of recreation opportunities within the Forest, the towns of Butte, Anaconda, Deerlodge, and Philipsburg offer an opportunity to "time-travel" to the days when "copper was king." Butte, which began as a placer gold camp, became the center of copper mining by the mid-1870's. The palatial Victorian homes and the squat workers' rowhouses give testimony to the size and richness of the copper mines. Berkley Pit, a huge open pit mine, swallowed up two communities in its search of copper. The Pit is a graphic reminder of man's destructive effort to obtain all the ore contained in the ground. Anaconda retains many remainders of it's past glory. One spectacular structure is the old Daly copper smelter's smokestack. At 585 feet, this chimney is one of the world's tallest free-standing brick structures. The eloquence of Anaconda's heyday is reflected in Washoe Park with its stately tree lined lanes. Philipsburg, hugging the Flint Creek Range, appears as an interesting cross of Pittsburgh, PA. brawn and Denver, CO mountain vista but on a much smaller scale. Its roots are reflected in the local bakery's offering of pasties and a gas station with hitching rails.
Another reminder of how important mining was to this area are the number of abandon mines and ghost towns. Abandoned mines are dangerous and the Deerlodge National Forest does not maintain any of these mines on forest land. However, if you look carefully, old mine entrances (look for the tailings nearby as a clue) can be seen dotting the mountainsides along several forest routes. Philipsburg is the mecca for ghost-town enthusiasts. Check with the Philipsburg Ranger District Office for ghost towns in the area.
With more than 1,000 miles of fishing streams, 140 lakes, 629 miles of foot, horse, and mechanized vehicle trails, 43,629 acres of wilderness and landscapes that vary from rolling, semi-arid grasslands to rocky, rugged peaks far above the tree line, the Deerlodge National Forest awaits your discovery.
420 Barrett St.
Dillon, Montana 59725
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
1820 Meadowlark Lane
Butte, Montana 59701
3 Whitehall Rd.
Whitehall, Montana 59759
1 Hollenback Rd.
Deer Lodge, Montana 59722
88-10A Business Loop
Philipsburg, Montana 59858