Visiting one of Western Montana's most popular historical sites could get a lot more expensive if the Bureau of Land Management goes through with a proposed fee increase.

But before the prices more than triple, BLM is asking you what you think about the change, which would be the first time the fees have changed since 2005.

The agency hopes to get across the message that the prices to wander the streets of this ghost town need to increase to continue covering preservation and operation costs.

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Garnet is a favorite for locals and tourists alike

Next to Bannack, Garnet is one of the most complete of the "abandoned" towns that date back to the glory days of Montana's gold and silver boom. While most of the camps from that era have vanished rapidly over the past 20 years, many of Garnet's buildings have been kept in a vintage but maintained state. And that's important for the history of West Central Montana, where it remains one of the few towns left to tell that story for the tens of thousands of visitors every year.

In recent years BLM, which manages the site, has spent major money installing new signs and interpretive displays and clearing forest to provide a safety buffer around the buildings, which were threatened by fire a few years ago.

Dennis Bragg photo
Dennis Bragg photo

But all those measures are expensive

Collecting fees at Garnet Ghost Town ensures funding is available to preserve the historical value of Garnet for the public,” said Maria Craig, Outdoor Recreation Planner for the Missoula Field Office. “The revenue also allows us to adequately staff our education and interpretive programs—which have been enjoyed by so many children on school field trips over the years.”

Fees would jump significantly

The Missoula Field Office is proposing the current $3 entrance fee would increase to $10. Winter cabin fees, which allow people to snowmobile, ski or snowshoe into Garnet to stay overnight would also increase. Staying the Dahl Cabin would increase from $40 per night to $50. The McDonald Cabin would climb from $30 to $50 per night.

BLM says all the fees would remain on-site to pay for operations and staff.

Three ways to comment

If you visit the BLM ePlanning site, you can see the Garnet business plan and offer comments by clicking on the "Participate Now" button. Or you can mail written comments to the BLM Field Office:

Missoula BLM Field Office
Attention: Garnet Ghost Town Business Plan and Fee Increase Proposals
3255 Fort Missoula Road Missoula, MT 59804

You can also email comments to BLM. with "Garnet Ghost Town Fee Program" in the subject line. 

All comments must be submitted by January 16th

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Gallery Credit: Dennis Bragg

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