MT : Overview & Guide
Deer Lodge is a nice town located on the Clark Fork, in-between Missoula and Butte. Deer Lodge, like other western Montana towns, is surrounded by mountains. To the west of town is the beautiful Flint Creek Range, with Mt. Powell dominating the landscape. To the east are the somewhat smaller Boulder Mountains. Getting to Deer Lodge is easy, as it sits right on Interstate 90.
Deer Lodge, owing to its location near Anaconda and Butte, started out as a mining town. The first discovery of gold in Montana was near Deer Lodge. And by the 1880’s massive copper mines were located upstream on the Clark Fork in and around Anaconda.
Yet, Deer Lodge has also always been an agricultural town, too. Numerous ranches and farms have long existed around Deer Lodge, taking advantage of the regions grasses and decent water supply (all the mountains feed water down into the valley).
Today, downtown Deer Lodge has been nicely restored. The downtown area is clean, and only a few buildings on main street are empty. Numerous specialty stores also are found downtown, taking advantage of the increasing amount of tourists that visit Deer Lodge each year.
In Montana, Deer Lodge is known for one thing in particular - prisons. Today, Deer Lodge is home to the main prison in Montana. Additionally, Deer Lodge is also home to the Old Montana State Prison, which was turned into a museum and is probably the town’s biggest tourist attraction.
Yet Deer Lodge has far more than prisons. Deer Lodge is in an excellent location for anyone who enjoys outdoor activities. The skier will like Deer Lodge since an excellent ski area, Discovery Ski Area, is located about an hour away up in the Flint Creek Range near Georgetown Lake. Montana Snowbowl, down in Missoula, is also located relatively close (about a 90 minute drive).
Deer Lodge also has excellent places to fish. The Clark Fork, once an environmental disaster, is quickly recovering and is home to some decent populations of trout. The Little Blackfoot River is also located not too far outside of town and provides for some excellent fly fishing throughout the entire year. And the Anaconda Settling Ponds in the Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area can provide some trophy trout during the short fishing season the sanctuary has.
The hunter and hiker will also like Deer Lodge. The Flint Creek Range has an extensive network of hiking trails and numerous small, alpine lakes. The excellent trail network, combined with an extensive network of logging roads, also allows for some excellent access to the high country by hunters. The area around Deer Lodge has excellent hunting for whitetail deer, mule deer and elk.
Overall, for anyone passing through Montana on I-90, a stop in Deer Lodge – if only for an hour – is something that everyone should do. The downtown area in Deer Lodge is neat, clean and tidy – and a nice place to wander around. And, for the person who has some time on their hands, a trip through the Old Montana State Prison is always a fun activity.
Photographs of Deer Lodge on Next Page
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