I am revisiting this trip from 2016.
I have said more than once that Western Montana is about the most scenic place I have ever been and I have been lucky enough to travel to some beautiful places – in this country and in others. If any of you decide to come visit this vast state and get to asking what to do in Montana, I have an answer for you – head to Philipsburg and Georgetown Lake.
What to do in Montana – Day Trip Fun
It was an easy day trip for us from our little town of Superior so it would certainly be so for someone with a starting point of Missoula. I’ve been wanting to head down to Philipsburg for YEARS! Why? Oh a little mountain range known as the Sapphires. Montana is known for this precious gem especially the color called Montana Blue. That particular color of this precious gem is not mined near Philipsburg but the discovery of sapphires did lead to the naming of the mountain range. There are several stores in the town selling beautiful Montana sapphire jewelry as well as opals from Idaho – I KNOW! I had no clue they mined opals in Idaho but they do. You can purchase a bag of “gem dirt” to pan and maybe find your own beautiful, Montana sapphire!
On the Road to Philipsburg
The drive to Philipsburg was glorious as we had perfect weather. The Pintler Mountains (Anaconda Range) were often ahead of us.
As you drive through Montana you end up going through varied ecosystems depending on elevation. It makes for varied and beautiful scenery.
Welcome to Philipsburg
Philipsburg is in Granite County and as of the latest census has a population of 820. It’s elevation is a bit higher than Superior’s at 5,243 feet. Like many small towns in Western Montana it was built around mining and logging. As those industries declined the town looked to revitalize and did an excellent job by making their main street into a tourist destination.
Beer has a long history in Montana and the state is becoming quite well known for its breweries. Philipsburg Brewing Co. opened in 2012 and it is located in a gorgeously maintained Victorian building. Since the hubby was driving he didn’t want to do a tasting but hopefully we will be able to return and spend a couple of nights and that will allow him to do so. From looking at the website they brew 12 different beers, ales and stouts. We did peek in and the premises were pristine.
Many other buildings along the route were also beautifully restored like the Kaiser House. It was opened in 1881 and originally had a restaurant on the first floor and a hotel on the second. The current incarnation offers rooms and has a wide selection of wines available for guests to enjoy. This would be an ideal place to stay for a return visit.
There are many other old buildings along the main street and they definitely have an “old West” feel to them. After walking in and out of the shops including the famous Philipsburg candy store, The Sweet Palace – where I will not discuss how much candy I purchased – we had some ice cream and got in the car to head out to our next stop for the day.
Philipsburg was a lot of fun. Hopefully I’ll get to go back.
It was astoundingly beautiful at Georgetown Lake. In fact I got out of the car and just stood and stared for a while. I almost forgot to take pictures. It was such a perfect day weather wise and the lake was sparkling in the sun. The Pintler Mountains were in the background – it was Montana perfection. The photo doesn’t begin to do reality justice. It is a WOW kind of place.
The lake covers over 3700 acres and averages 16 feet deep. The drive from Philipsburg is about 15 miles and in that distance you climb another 1,2oo feet to 6, 425 feet. You can vacation there year round with fishing, hunting, hiking and there is skiing not too far away.
Me, I’d probably sit and stare at that view all day.
Scenic Ride Home
Soon we had to end our wonderful day trip and head back home. We would be hitting Missoula just about dinner time so we decided to find dinner there but before we arrived in town there was still some amazing scenery to be seen.
I have a thing for rocks. Granite, sandstone, whatever – I just love the colors and patterns that nature has give us in the geologic formations. And Montana has quite an array. The scenery on this trip was amazing – but I haven’t been anywhere in Western Montana where I haven’t been enthralled by what was outside my car window.
Barbecue for Dinner
We hit Missoula at a perfect time for our dinner. We wanted to try something new and there was a restaurant whose name had intrigued me – The Notorious P.I.G.
How could one not like that name?
They had been voted the best barbecue in Missoula and the hubby and I do enjoy barbecue – that is not to say we are in any way experts; we just know what we like.
And we really liked the food at The Notorious P.I.G. Very much. We both ordered half a rack of barbecued ribs. The order came with two sides; he picked cole slaw and mac and cheese….
…and I picked cole slaw and baked beans. The ribs were excellent- they were fall off the bone tender with an underlying heat that was perfectly balanced with a smokey/sweet barbecue sauce. The beans were yummy – rich, smokey and full of meat. The mac and cheese was creamy, cheesy and made with spiral pasta – I tried some and it was comfort food at its best. Cole slaw is a regional thing and this was sweet and made without mayo. We are vinegar and mayo folk so we didn’t care for the cole slaw. We will go back to try some of the other tempting offerings on the menu.
All in all it was a wonderful day off the Farm and if anyone is visiting Montana I can certainly suggest Philipsburg and Georgetown Lake as fun places to visit.
For more info:
- Philipsburg Brewing Co.: http://www.philipsburgbrewingcompany.com/
- Kaiser House: http://www.kaiserhouselodging.com/
- The Sweet Palace: https://www.sweetpalace.com/
Georgetown Lake: http://georgetownlakemt.com/
The Notorious P.I.G.: http://www.thenotoriouspigbbq.com/
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