Top Things to Do, See, and Eat in Dillon, Montana
Looking for a fun day trip from Butte or Bozeman? We highly recommend the less-visited Dillon, which is far enough off the typical tourist track that it’s not overrun with visitors, but still offers incredible things to do and see.
Dillon has so much history located right in its small downtown, plus gorgeous parks and hiking trails nearby.
Dillon is a small city in Montana’s Beaverhead County with a population of approximately 4,200 people. The city is known for its rich history, stunning natural scenery, and outdoor recreational opportunities. With a vibrant downtown area, numerous museums, and events throughout the year, Dillon is a great place to visit.
History of Dillon, Montana
Dillon, Montana was established in 1880 as a railroad town along the Utah and Northern Railway. The town was named after Sidney Dillon, a Union Pacific Railroad president. In the early 1900s, Dillon became a hub for the agriculture and mining industries.
The town also played an important role in World War II as a training center for the U.S. Army. Today, Dillon is known for its outdoor recreation opportunities and as the home of the University of Montana Western.
Read More: Best Day Trips from Bozeman
Getting to Dillon, MT
To get there, you can take Interstate 15 and exit at either the Dillon or Clark Canyon Dam exits. Alternatively, you can take Montana Highway 41 or Montana Highway 278. Dillon is also served by the Dillon Airport, which offers daily flights to Salt Lake City.
Best Places to Stay in Dillon
Before we get into the day trip itinerary for Dillon and more things to do while there, let’s cover where to sleep if you decide to turn this into an overnight adventure. Dillon is a good stopping point if you’re taking the scenic route back east from the Bitterroot Valley (or heading there).
Here are some of the best hotels to stay at in Dillon, Montana:
Top Pick: Andrus Hotel
The Andrus Hotel in Dillon, Mt. is a historic gem that exudes a charming ambiance. Founded in 1917, the boutique hotel has been renovated to preserve its original architecture and character. The Andrus is a perfect blend of history and modern comfort, making it an ideal choice for travelers seeking a unique and comfortable stay in Dillon.
The rooms are spacious and elegantly furnished, featuring modern amenities such as free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and coffee makers. Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast in the cozy lobby, and relax in the comfortable lounge area. The hotel also offers a fitness center and a business center for guests’ convenience.
More Accommodation Options in Dillon
- Best Western Paradise Inn – This hotel offers comfortable rooms, a fitness center, and an indoor pool. I stayed here with my two daughters one night and they loved the pool house!
- Quality Inn Dillon – This hotel features clean and spacious rooms, free breakfast, and a small, shallow pool that’s fun for little kids.
- Beaverhead Lodge – This hotel offers rustic yet comfortable accommodations, a restaurant, and a bar.
- Super 8 by Wyndham Dillon – This hotel offers affordable and clean rooms, free breakfast, and a fitness center.
Best Things to Do on a Day Trip to Dillon, MT
Dillon offers a variety of outdoor activities, cultural experiences, and delicious cuisine. Whether you’re looking to explore the town’s rich history, go on a scenic hike, or simply relax and take in the stunning mountain views, Dillon has something for everyone.
In this guide, we’ll highlight some of the top things to do in Dillon, so you can make the most of your visit to this charming western town.
Dillon, MT Day Trip Itinerary
Time needed: 1 day
- Enjoy Coffee at Sweetwater Coffee
A great place to begin your day in Dillon is Sweetwater Coffee, a cozy coffee shop with friendly staff and delicious drinks. Try one of their creamy lattes or signature drinks alongside homemade breakfast items like the French toast sandwich. Huckleberry jam is also on the menu! If you get here after breakfast, freshly made lunch items are also available.
- Go for a Hike at Clark’s Lookout State Park
After your coffee fix and before the afternoon sun shines down, head over to Clark’s Lookout State Park for a morning hike. The trail to the lookout is a bit steep, but it’s worth it for the breathtaking views of the Beaverhead River and valley below.
You’ll also be following in the footprints of the Lewis and Clark Expedition since Captain Clark climbed this same hill in 1805 to get a better look at his surroundings.
- Visit Beaverhead County Museum
The next stop is the Beaverhead County Museum, where you can learn about the history of the area and see artifacts from the Lewis and Clark expedition. The museum also houses an impressive collection of antique cars and farm equipment.
The whole block that the museum is on is fun to explore since the buildings are historic, the sidewalk is wooden, and there are memorials to see with informational boards.
Tip: Beaverhead County Museum is also close to the Beaverhead Chamber of Commerce and its Visitor Center, a great place to stop in to get maps and more ideas for how to explore Southwest Montana.
- Stop for Lunch at Sparky’s Garage
After several hours of hiking and walking around museums, you’ll undoubtedly be ready for lunch. Head over to Sparky’s Garage for some delicious burgers and fries. This retro-style restaurant also has a great selection of milkshakes and ice cream treats.
- Visit Clark Canyon Reservoir for Water Fun and History
After you’ve refueled your body with lunch, head to the Clark Canyon Reservoir south of Dillon for some outdoor fun. This reservoir offers a variety of recreational activities, such as boating, fishing, and camping. The reservoir is surrounded by lovely scenery, including the nearby Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
The reservoir is also rich in history, as it where you’ll find the Camp Fortunate historic site. This was an important campsite during the Lewis and Clark expedition since its where the explorers met up with the Limhi Shoshoni Tribe and where Sacajawea was reunited with her people.
- Go Shopping at Patagonia Outlet
If you love the outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, make sure to visit the Patagonia Outlet in Dillon before it closes for the day. This beloved outdoor clothing and gear brand has a great selection of high-quality products at discounted prices at their outlet shop in Dillon.
More Options for How to Spend Your Day in Dillon
Looking for more things to do in Dillon, whether for historic attractions, outdoor adventures or kid-friendly activities? We’ve got you covered with these extra attraction tips below.
This park is located just a few blocks from Beaverhead County Museum and has a playground and picnic tables, making it a good spot for families who want a laidback place to eat lunch or for little ones to get the wiggles out for a bit.
Blacktail Meadow Kids Fishing Pond
Located on the edge of town is a charming little pond where kids can try their hand at casting a reel and trying to catch some fish. The pond is stocked each spring.
Beaverhead Golf Course
Love golfing during vacation? Dillon is home to a low-key yet fun and challenging 9-hole golf course. Built in 1963 by a joint effort between local ranchers and businessmen, the golf course has a community feel with plenty of nature interspersed around the course.
Visit Bannack State Park and Montana’s Most Famous Ghost Town
Bannack State Park is a historic site located in southwestern Montana, approximately 25 miles southwest of Dillon. The park was established in 1954 and is home to the well-preserved ghost town of Bannack, which was once a bustling mining town during the gold rush of the 1860s.
Visitors to the park can explore the numerous well-preserved buildings, including a schoolhouse, a hotel, and a jail, which provide an authentic glimpse into life during the gold rush era. Additionally, the park offers opportunities for hiking, fishing, camping, and picnicking.
To get to Bannack State Park from Dillon, take I-15 south for approximately 20 miles and turn left onto Highway 278. Follow Highway 278 for approximately 5 miles until you reach the park entrance on the left-hand side of the road.
Read More: Must-See Ghost Towns in Montana
Best Restaurants for Dinner in Dillon
- Sparky’s Garage: If you didn’t check it out for lunch as suggested on our Dillon day trip itinerary above, consider it fo a casual dinner.
- The Den: Offers a steakhouse dining experience with a variety of dishes, including beef, pasta, and wood-fired pizza, with excellent service.
- Montana Bar: This historic bar and restaurant serves up classic Western fare and has a lively atmosphere.
- The University of Montana Western Dining Hall: Offers a variety of dishes, including vegetarian options, with a large seating area and affordable prices.
- The Metlen Hotel Restaurant: Located in a former, historic hotel, this saloon and eatery features classic American cuisine with a vintage ambiance and a full bar offering local beers and other libations.
Best Bars for Drinks and Nightlife in Dillon, Montana
Extending your trip to Dillon into the twilight hours? Here are some of the best bars for drinks and nightlife in Dillon, Montana:
- Mac’s Last Cast – a sports bar with a friendly atmosphere, large TVs, and a variety of beers on tap.
- Cranny’s Kupfer Club Tavern and Casino – Offers a wide selection of beers, wines, and spirits in a casual atmosphere with booth seating and a pool table.
- The Office Bar – a local favorite with a dive bar feel, pool table, and live music nights.
Hope you have a fun day trip or longer stay in Dillon, MT!