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Things to do in Granite County
Philipsburg’s surrounding area abounds with summer activities for your entire family. Whether you prefer the stretching your legs outdoors, panning for sapphires either indoor or outdoors, scenic driving tours, strolling through historical downtown, fishing or hunting pristine waters and mountains, Granite County offers the adventure.
In addition to the special events planned for virtually every weekend of the summer months, downtown Philipsburg boasts multiple activities all season. While following the historical walking tour be sure to visit the museum, peruse the antique shops and galleries, pick up a souvenir shirt or hat at one of the stores, pan for sapphires indoors, and purchase your tickets to the live theater production. Philipsburg’s dining establishments afford travelers everything from burgers and pizza to Asian cuisine. Compliment your stay with a comfortable sleep from a wide array of accommodation options range from vintage hotel and b&b rooms to remote mountain cabins.
From the Driver’s Seat
Philipsburg falls right in the middle of the Pintler Scenic Route - Montana Highway 1. Hwy 1 sightseers exiting off Interstate 90 in Drummond first enjoy the rolling cattle country near Hall and later, the narrowing creek bottom winding past historic Maxville , MT. Closer to Philipsburg the Flint Creek Valley opens wide, framed with majestic views of the high alpine Pintler Mountains and soft ridges of the John Long Mountains . Shortly past P-burg, Hwy 1 climbs Flint Creek Pass flanked by a stunning cascading waterfall topping out at Georgetown Lake . Following a fabulous lake side drive the highway descends into the rugged beauty of Warm Springs Creek snaking down into Anaconda. The loop back to I-90 ends with a classic juxtaposition of a Granite County in transition - the historic Anaconda Copper Mine smelter on one side and the Jack Nicholas Old Works Golf Course on the other.
Touring the back roads
Want some grit in your teeth – the Granite County is crisscrossed with literally hundreds of miles of jeep roads. Old mining and logging roads make for a four-wheeler and ATV paradise. Mountain two tracks traverse past multiple ghost towns and historic mining claims spread through out the region between Drummond and Anaconda. Only have a couple hours? Turn your wheels immediately east of ‘The Burg’ and take the Philipsburg Mining District Tour. Add a few more hours and behold stunning vistas, hillsides and meadows just made for wildlife viewing, and high elevation lakes and streams brimming with trout. (It is a good idea to obtain a Forest Service map for the most detailed information). Please, when four wheeling and ATVing, always stay on established roads, travel at safe speeds, and respect both private and public property as if it were your own.
Biking, Hiking and Backpacking the Region
Philipsburg’s surrounding area is perfect for adventuresome souls aching to get out of their cars fill their lungs with crisp mountain air. The Anaconda/Pintler Wilderness together with seemingly endless public lands offer up a veritable smorgasbord of trails and roads for the outdoor enthusiast. For the day hiker and backpacker, hundreds of miles of trails of varying levels of terrain await. Mountain bikers encounter countless ribbons of logging, fire, and forest service roads, all providing remote beauty and many culminate in exhilarating downhill rides.
Trout Fishing Paradise
The Philipsburg territory boasts some of the nation’s most enviable trout fishing. With more than 500 miles of streams and 50 lakes in Granite County , anglers could fish every day, all summer, and never wet a line in the same water. P-burg puts you in the heart blue ribbon rivers, under utilized creeks, pristine alpine lakes, and trout rich reservoirs. Both spin and fly fishing options abound year round.
Streams and Rivers
Nationally renowned Rock Creek flows a mere 20 minutes from downtown Philipsburg. The Creek provides the simply the best variety fly fishing has to offer – riffles, runs, pools, pocket water, and undercuts all chocked full of wild rainbows, Westslope cutthroat, browns, cutbows, brooks, rare native bull trout, and mountain whitefish. Aquatic insect hatches are prolific as are the terrestrials.
Most of the area’s other small creeks offer good numbers cutthroats, browns, and brookies. Some of these fish never see an angler all season. Miles of these streams wonder through public land, but know the land ownership before you fish. Maintain the great relationship area land owners have with sportsmen by always asking permission to fish on private land even if you can access the water legally.
A short drive puts you waist deep in the Big Hole or Clark Fork Rivers . Both of these national treasures boast some of the state’s best brown trout fisheries and produce spectacular hatches of caddis, mayflies and stoneflies. They can either be waded or fished from river boats.
Lakes and Reservoirs
The most popular lake in the region is Georgetown . Its breathtaking views, numerous public accesses and campsites, and fertile waters make it a perfect choice for both ‘hard core’ anglers and family outings. Rainbow trout make up the bulk of the catch together with trophy brook trout and kokanee salmon. Abundant damsels, giant sedge, midges, scuds and leaches expedite the growth of Georgetown ’s trout and make for one of the Montana ’s finest stillwater fly fishing destinations. Float tubing and kick boating are great ways to fish the lake’s weedy drop offs and shallow flats but bank anglers also have success along rocky shores.
Most of the alpine lakes are free of ice for only a short time and therefore the trout are typically aggressive. Some of these are accessible by car while others are perfect for a day hike or multi-day backpack trip.
Granite County contains many other reservoirs and small impoundments that are often overlooked. Most of these waters were created for irrigation purposes but are stocked on a regular basis and are a good bet for anglers.
Know the Rules and Regulations
Montana ’s fish and wildlife laws are as diverse as the critters they are designed to protect. Some rivers are open to fishing all year, creeks are closed during the spawning season, and Georgetown Lake is actually closed to all fishing for the month of May. Every fishery is treated differently in order to maximize its potential. Be sure to consult the state’s FWP regulations before fishing any where in Montana.