Philipsburg, Montana, on the Pintler Scenic Byway


There’s plenty of beautiful scenery to enjoy on the Pintler Byway – the scenic alternative to Interstate 90 in western Montana.  One highlight of the drive is the slightly-touristy, but still authentic, town of Philipsburg.


Philipsburg, Montana is located along Montana Route 1, also known as the Pintler Scenic Byway.  MT-1 provides an alternate route to Interstate 90, northwest of Butte, connecting the towns of Anaconda, Philipsburg, and Drummond.

My Visit

If you’re traveling north/westbound on the Pintler Byway, you’ll first pass through the city of Anaconda, which I covered on the previous page.  Once you leave town…

… you’ll be treated to miles of rolling, pastoral land, along with some special treats like this old barn, located right at the side of the highway.

I’m about 92% sure that you’re looking at a real barn owl – and not just a plastic scare-owl, made to shoo-away other birds and critters.  If it is a decoy, I was fooled.

The paved byway is nice enough, but there are also some dirt side-roads that provide brief detours…

… with even better photo opportunities. You’ll finish your trip with a life’s supply of hay bale photos.


Eventually, Route 1 ends up in the town of Philipsburg.  As you can see, on the day I arrived, it was crowded with cars parked along Broadway Street.  To reach downtown, you’ll need to take the business loop off of the main highway.

The Kaiser House is in the middle of town.  It first opened in 1881 as a hotel, restaurant, and gambling house.  It still offers a handful of rooms on the second floor, starting around $100 dollars a night.

Just like the big city of Butte and the smaller city of Anaconda, you’ll find some interesting ghost signs around town, including this sign near the Kaiser House…

… and a sign for hardware and groceries, standing over Broadway.

Misbehave on the Pintler Byway, and you might end up here.  The Granite County Jail dates back to 1896, when it was constructed for about $8,000.  Even though it’s 120+ years old, it still serves as the county jail.

A block or two downhill from the jail, you’re at the center of town, and the crossroads of the business loop and Broadway Street.

Philipsburg is rich in sapphires, and several businesses allow you to pan for the precious stones.

At the intersection, an old sign marks the city center, and what appears to be an even older sign shows the distance to Drummond and Missoula.  At Drummond, the Pintler Byway ends, and you can make a speedy drive on into one of my favorite Montana cities, Missoula.  On this trip, however, I would skip the interstate and the big city, and instead head for Montana’s best-preserved ghost town, Garnet – just a few miles north of I-90.

Philipsburg to Drummond

I only found one excuse to stop for some photos on the drive from Philipsburg to Drummond, Montana.  The community of Hall, Montana is big enough to have its own post office, a grain elevator, and a couple of Montana 1 route shields.

Oh, and an entirely unexplained door, that seems to be growing out of the ground.  I like it.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s a look at the drive from Anaconda, through Philipsburg, to Drummond, on Montana 1:

The Bottom Line

Philipsburg is a fun break from the drive up the Pintler Scenic Byway.  It’s a bit touristy, but still interesting, and well worth exploring.  Make a stop here for lunch or do some souvenir shopping on Broadway Street, before continuing up the byway.

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