If you’re looking for some fun things to do in Dillon, MT, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, I’ll list 15 of the best activities in the area. Whether you’re a nature lover or a history buff, there’s something for everyone in Dillon.
Dillon isn’t “on the way” to any other big city, which makes it a great off-the-beaten-path destination in Montana.
The first time I visited Dillon was many years ago for a high school football game, and as a Montana native, I’ve returned many times since. This is one of the more off-track places to visit in Montana.
The drive to Dillon is beautiful thanks to its mountain views and valleys, and the little town itself is cute and quaint.
Here are the 15 best places to visit in Dillon, MT. Also, make sure you check out our bucket list of 101 places to see in the US.
Table of Contents
- 1. Visit Bannack State Park
- 2. Admire the View from Clark’s Lookout
- 3. Rent a 4 x 4 and Explore
- 4. Take a Historical Walking Tour
- 5. Stock Up on Outdoor Gear
- 6. Go Pole Fishing at Clark Canyon Reservoir
- 7. Fly Fish at Beaverhead Creek
- 8. Learn About the History of Big Hole Battlefield
- 9. Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
- 10. Hike Along the Continental Divide
- 11. Go Skiing at Maverick Mountain
- 12. Drive Along the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway
- 13. Grab a Local Brew
- 14. Visit the Beaverhead Country Museum
- 15. Relax in Local Hot Springs
- FAQs About Visiting Dillon, MT
- In Conclusion
1. Visit Bannack State Park
There’s plenty of history and nature to explore in and around Dillon. One of the best things to do in Dillon Montana is to explore Bannack State Park.
This state park is the site of Montana’s first gold rush settlement in 1862. Today, you can explore the old buildings and learn about the history of the area.
In addition to a big dose of alluring history, you can also enjoy biking trails, hiking trails, and picnic areas in the park. Plus, there are plenty of areas in the park where you can camp, fish, or look for wildlife.
There’s even ice skating in the winter. If you’re unsure what to do first, you can stop by the visitor center for more information from a local ranger.
Bannack State Park is located just a short drive from Dillon and the best time to visit is during the summer months when the weather is warm and the days are long. The park is open year-round, however, it’s essential to check for road closures before making any plans.
2. Admire the View from Clark’s Lookout
One of the top things to do in Dillon is to simply admire the view. After all, this small town is located amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in Montana. A great place to do this is at Clark’s Lookout.
Clark’s Lookout is a scenic overlook that offers panoramic views of the Beaverhead Valley. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset or enjoy a picnic lunch.
You can step back in time and imagine seeing this view for the first time on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, (when they were exploring the Wild West).
The lookout is located just outside of town and is easily accessible by car and a short walk. It’s open during the summer months and is one of the most fun things to do in Dillon.
3. Rent a 4 x 4 and Explore
If you want to explore the surrounding nature like the locals, you might consider renting a side-by-side, ATV, or snowmobile, (these are available on an hourly or daily rental basis). Beaverhead Adventures can set you up with all the adventure gear you need to explore the area, including a trailer for hauling and safety gear.
Using a recreational vehicle is an excellent way to see the backcountry and explore the less travelled paths. If you’re not a fan of motorized vehicles, another great option is to explore the same trails on a mountain bike.
A popular route is to take the Birch Creek trail to Deer Head Lake. The Birch Creek trailhead is located approximately 20 miles northwest of Dillon.
There are plenty of riding options in the Birch Creek area, in addition to many other choices surrounding Dillon. For more trail information, see the state forest service website here.
4. Take a Historical Walking Tour
If you’re looking for free things to do in Dillon, you can opt to explore the historic downtown. Dillon has a small visitor center that offers a lot of information on what to do during your stay and what Dillion tourist attractions to see. Plus, they can offer you a historical walking tour.
Taking a walking tour from the Dillon visitor center is a fun way to see some of the historic buildings you might otherwise miss, and to learn more information about Dillon’s history.
The center also offers Dillon maps and navigational resources, information on Dillon tours, and other useful resources for visitors.
5. Stock Up on Outdoor Gear
The Patagonia Outlet located in Dillon, MT is the only location in the Northwest US; making it one of the unique things to do in Dillon. It’s a great place to stock up on outdoor gear before heading into the wilderness. The outlet is located in an old grocery store and has everything you need for your next adventure.
You can expect up to 40% off the normal retail price at the outlet. Plus, if you happen to be there during a holiday sale you can often get even greater reductions. You can usually find customer favorites like swimsuits, dresses, layers for cold weather, cozy jackets, and more at these smaller establishments.
In addition to Patagonia, there are also places in Dillon where you can buy or rent outdoor gear, such as Anderson and Platt Outfitters which is a specialist fly fishing service.
Whether you need a new pair of hiking boots or a fishing rod, Dillon is the place to get it. Plus, the friendly locals are always happy to give advice on where to go and what to do.
6. Go Pole Fishing at Clark Canyon Reservoir
If you love to fish, one of the best places to visit in Dillon is Clark Canyon Reservoir. The reservoir is located just south of town and is a great place to catch rainbow trout.
There are several boat ramps located around the reservoir, so it’s easy to access no matter where you choose to set up.
You can also fish from the shore in many areas. Unfortunately, floating boats are not typically recommended in the area due to high winds. Motorboats are a local favorite for fishing and other water sports.
If you don’t have your own poles and gear, you don’t need to worry. You can easily find places to rent or buy what you need in town.
Clark Canyon Reservoir is a beautiful place to kick back, relax, and hopefully catch a fish or two. What’s more, you can camp at one of the several campgrounds around the reservoir as well.
7. Fly Fish at Beaverhead Creek
Beaverhead Creek is a lesser-known creek that’s a real hidden gem for catching trophy brown trout and rainbows. The creek runs through Dillon and is easily accessible from a few points in town, and many areas outside of town.
Locals will admit that Beaverhead Creek is a tough but rewarding area to go fly-fishing, either by wading or floating. For more information, you can check out this DIY guide, or talk to a local guide for recommendations and tips.
If you don’t have your own gear, there are several places in Dillon where you can buy or rent any supplies you may need – start off by talking to a guide. Find out more about fly fishing Montana’s rivers here.
8. Learn About the History of Big Hole Battlefield
For unusual things to do in Dillon, visit the local memorial site that is Big Hole Battlefield. The Battlefield is the site of a major battle that took place during the Nez Perce War in 1877.
The battlefield is now a National Historic Landmark and offers ranger-led programs covering insight into important dates such as Memorial Day through to Labor Day.
You can also take a self-guided tour year-round, (note the site is closed on Sundays and Mondays). The visitor center has exhibits about the battle to browse, as well as some history of the Nez Perce people.
Big Hole Battlefield is a beautiful and peaceful place that’s definitely worth visiting. It’s a great activity for history buffs or anyone who simply wants to learn more about the area’s unique and undoubtedly tragic past.
9. Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
For things to do near Dillon, consider the 2-hour drive southeast to the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. You can take a day trip from Dillon, stay at a primitive campsite, or simply stop for a look on your way to Yellowstone National Park, (if you’re headed that way).
This area is home to a variety of wildlife, including grizzly bears, moose, wolves, bison, and elk. As well as four-legged creatures, you can also find over 300 species of birds here; it’s a bird watchers’ paradise with trumpeter swans, bald eagles, and cranes to spot.
The best time to visit is typically from June to September when the weather is warmest and there’s the most wildlife to see.
There are several trails located throughout the refuge that offer different levels of difficulty. You can also choose to take a scenic drive if you’re short on time. Be sure to stop at the visitor center before you leave to learn more about the area and what to look for.
10. Hike Along the Continental Divide
One of the top things to see in Dillon is the Continental Divide. This trial is iconic because it stretches for over 3,00 miles through beautiful terrain from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. border at Chihuahua, Mexico.
Some people attempt to travel the entire route in a single season, whilst others enjoy different points of the trail a few miles at a time.
Outside of Dillon, this trail runs both north and south and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges. The closest access points are in the Miner-Berry-Goldstone area. For more information on access points in the Dillon and Butte area, see more information from the forest service here.
11. Go Skiing at Maverick Mountain
For things to do in Dillon in winter, head north to Maverick Mountain. This small ski area is known for its relaxed atmosphere, uncrowded slopes, and great powder.
You won’t find any phone service here, so it’s a great opportunity to completely unplug and enjoy a day in some beautiful mountain scenery. Despite its small size, you can still find a variety of terrain here; from beginner to advanced.
Maverick Mountain is usually open from mid-December to mid-April, weather permitting. Check the website for conditions and updated information before you go.
Planning to visit other areas in Montana? See these posts:
- Top 15 Places To Visit in Montana
- 15 Best Things To Do in Bozeman
- 15 Best Things To Do in Missoula
- 15 Best Things To Do in Whitefish
- 15 Best Things To Do in Billings
- 15 Best Things To Do in Helena
- 10 Best Airbnbs in Bozeman
12. Drive Along the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway
The Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway is a 43-mile drive that takes you through the heart of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest from Wise River south to Dillon. Most of the byway is open year-round, although some of the higher areas are closed during winter due to weather conditions.
For things to do in Dillon in summer, this byway offers access to several trailheads, fishing, camping areas, and other recreation sites and activities such as ATVs.
There are also several historical sites along the byway that are worth stopping for, including the Elkhorn Hot Springs, (check for closures ahead of visiting), and the Pioneer Cabin.
In the winter months, there are plenty of opportunities to test your skills with some snowmobiles.
Noteworthy areas to stop and explore along this highway include:
- Coolidge Ghost Town – a personal favorite and one of the fun things to do in Dillon for families
- Grand Vista overlook
- Lupine picnic shelter
- Crystal park recreation area
13. Grab a Local Brew
When you’re ready for a break from all of the fun things to do in Dillon, head over to Beaverhead Brewery. It’s located in a historic storefront that’s been fully renovated.
This local spot has a great vibe, is a great place to meet some locals, and is the best place to try some local brews you wouldn’t find elsewhere.
The Beaverhead Brewery offers classic brews, plus a rotation of microbrews to try. For kids or adults after something non-alcoholic, they also offer handcrafted sodas like Ginger Ale and Root Beer. The brewery doesn’t offer food, so when you’re finished you can head to a local BBQ pit or steakhouse for a bite to eat.
14. Visit the Beaverhead Country Museum
For some more history highlights, head to Beaverhead Country Museum. It’s definitely one of the top indoor things to do in Dillon, MT. It’s a great place to explore on a cold or rainy day, or if you want to know more about all the rich local history of Montana.
The Beaverhead County Museum is the ideal place to orient yourself with the area’s history before exploring downtown Dillon and its surroundings. The museum has excellent displays of Lewis and Clark and past agriculture. Plus, it also has Dillon’s first flush-toilet outhouse – which is definitely a unique sight!
15. Relax in Local Hot Springs
Last but not least, one of the most fun things to do in Dillon is to relax in one of Montana’s best hot springs. There are two well-known hot springs in the area: Jackson Hot Springs and Elkhorn Hot Springs.
Unfortunately, Elkhorn is closed indefinitely for now – so grab your swimsuit and head to Jackson.
Jackson Hot Springs features a hot pool fed by local mineral-rich water. The pool temperature ranges from 100 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s open Thursday to Sunday from 8am – 11pm, and from 8am – 10am on Monday mornings. If you have small kids, keep in mind that any children under 3 years old are not allowed in the pool.
For a full relaxation experience, (and for one of the most romantic things to do in Dillon), you can even stay and eat at the Jackson Hot Spring Lodge too.
Whether you’re visiting alone, as a couple, or as a family, visiting this hot spring can be a great form of self-care. Check out their website for more details on availability throughout the year.
FAQs About Visiting Dillon, MT
Answers to some commonly asked questions about visiting the beautiful places in Dillon.
What is Dillon MT known for?
It’s a lesser-known area of Montana that was put on the map thanks to the rich history of Lewis and Clark and past goldmine rushes. Dillon is most known for its outdoor recreation opportunities, from skiing and snowboarding, to hiking, fishing, and more.
Is Dillon Montana in the mountains?
Yes, there are mountains in the background of Dillon, MT that provide spectacular views. Plus, you can explore local mountain ranges in the Beaverhead Forest in practically every direction.
Where to stay in Dillon?
There are a few different lodging options in Dillon, from camping and RV parks to cabins, apartments, and hotels. There are plenty of choices to fit every budget and wish list. For a full Montana experience, I recommend either grabbing a tent and going camping at a primitive site, or renting out a cabin. This log home with a hot tub is a great choice!
What is the best place to eat in Dillon?
There are several places to eat in Dillon. Your best bet is to stick to local classics that offer delicious BBQ options. A local favorite is Sparky’s Garage. It has a fun auto theme and has a menu filled with favorites straight off the grill.
For a little more of a splurge, you can also check out The Den Steakhouse. In general, any restaurant offering burgers and steak is your best bet for a tasty meal in Montana.
Dillon has plenty to offer and explore. Since it’s off the main highway across Montana, it’s a great way to see what else Montana has to offer without the more touristy crowds.
This quiet town offers an authentic feel of a small country town. Otherwise, it can also be a great road trip stop-off on your way to other popular Montana destinations like Bozeman, Missoula, or Yellowstone National Park.
I hope this list of the best things to do in Dillon helps you plan your trip and enjoy the local area to the fullest. With all there is to do in Dillon, Montana; from exploring the great outdoors to enjoying some local history, you’re sure to have a memorable time whichever time of year you head there.