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Winnett, Montana : Overview & Pictures

Downtown Winnett, Montana
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"Winnett, Montana : It's Not the End of the World, But You Can See It From Here."

So proclaimed the shirt a friend wore when I first visited Winnett. And really, that pretty much sums things up for the town.

I first visited Winnett, MT, during 2003 when some friends and I went to there on a hunting trip (the area around Winnett has some excellent deer and elk hunting. Rumor has it rattlesnake hunting is also very productive, too).

The town itself is tiny - population of only 160 or so people. What is even more interesting is that Winnett is the only town in the entire county (which is Petroleum County)! Petroleum County only has a population of 550 people - and is a sizable county, too.

Winnett has seen better days. During the 40's and 50's, Winnett was sort of a mini-boom town when oil and gas was discovered in the area - and once had a population of over 2000 people. Today, while some oil and gas is still pumped out, the boom days are long since gone. Moreover, the decline and consolidation in the agricultural industry has led to a drastic "emptying out" of the town and the county. As such, Winnett is literally full of abandoned buildings - many of which are only half-standing. In some ways, Winnett reminds me of a "functioning ghost town" - a comment that almost earned me a cup of hot coffee on my lap when I said it to my friend who lives there.

Winnett is located pretty much next to nothing. Billings is the nearest major city, and is located about 90 miles to the south. Lewistown is located about 70 miles to the west. To the north lies the vast and empty area of the Charles Russell Wildlife Refuge, the Missouri Breaks and Fort Peck Lake.

Lobby of the Northern Hotel in Winnett, Montana
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Winnett is a bit lacking in services. The town has one hotel/motel called the Northern Hotel - which is best experienced and not described. The town has one restaurant that is pretty good, a small general store and, of course, 2 bars.

Overall, Winnett is most definitely not a tourist spot - something that the people who live in Winnett probably like. The good news about Winnett is that the cost of housing in town is incredibly affordable - although most buildings fall in the fixer-upper category. Additionally, if you like to hunt, Winnett is located in a wonderful area. Finally, Winnett is most definitely located in a remote region. Anyone in search of a remote area of Montana to explore - by all means - be sure to head over to Winnett. You'll find vast expanses of empty prairie, unmarked dirt roads and the entire Missouri Breaks to explore (see photo gallery of the Missouri Breaks).

Photographs of Winnett, Montana

One of many abandoned buildings in Winnett I first thought this was the Hotel we were staying at! But, this was it - the very unique Northern Hotel

The Prairie around Winnett. Snowy Mountains are in the background Read the Northern Hotel Check-Out Policy Carefully!! Abandoned Grain Tower in Winnett

Where to Stay in Winnett

Your choices are quite simple in Winnett. Either stay at the Northern Hotel (new add-on version), sleep in your car, throw a tent out with the rattlesnakes, or high-tail it into Billings for a real hotel experience.

Simple, huh?

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