Finding Your Way Around Town
As a small city, Butte is relatively easy to navigate, though some new visitors may find Butte's hillscapes and winding old roads a little confusing.
Visitors will first want to note the two major parts of Butte: the Historic Uptown District lies on the Butte hill at the north end of the Summit Valley; the more modern area of town on the level ground of the middle and south valley is colloquially known as 'The Flats.' The compact, dense Uptown area can easily be seen on foot or by bike, while visitors to the sprawling Flats will likely want a car or bicycle.
Historic Uptown Butte
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The Butte Flats
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From Thompson Park at the foot of the Highlands Range in the south to the Granite Mountain Memorial and the Top of the World Overlook to the north, the greater Butte area stretches about 12 miles. The city is bounded on the east by the Berkeley Pit and the East Ridge of the Continental Divide, home to the Lady of the Rockies. On the west, the city edge is marked by the curving hills of Timber Butte and Big Butte, where the Montana Tech 'Big M' shines over the valley by night.
As in most of Montana's wide open spaces, navigation is easiest via car, particularly for visitors interested in the many scenic natural attractions and recreation areas within an hour's drive of Butte. With two Interstates, 15 and 90, running north, south, east and west from Butte, and charming state highways and local roads veering off to all points of the compass, Montana's natural beauty is readily accessible.
Several main roads run through and around Butte. Harrison Ave, a primary business corridor, stretches from the base of the Highlands Range at Thompson Park north past the Bert Mooney Airport and through the center of Butte, past I-15 and I-90, until it merges into Front St near the Butte Civic Center. Front St runs east-west along the base of the Butte hill, connecting with Main and Montana, which both run north-south and provide the main access routes to the hill and Historic Uptown Butte. Continental Drive runs north-south along the foot of the East Ridge, merging with Harrison Ave at Montana Highway 2 and Thompson Park in the south, and in the north connecting via Shield Ave to Park Street, the main east-west corridor in Uptown Butte. Following Park Street all the way west will take visitors to Montana Tech and the World Museum of Mining.
Butte also offers public transit via the Butte Bus, with a central transfer station connecting routes located on Harrison Avenue next to the Butte Civic Center. For full route information, schedules and fares, visit the Butte Bus website.
With its minimal traffic and broad avenues, Butte is also a great bicycling city. Those visitors in for a challenge can pedal around the Butte hill via the Copperway Trail System through Historic Uptown, while those looking for an easier ride can see the Flats by bicycle. Do exercise caution in winter months, when icy roads can be very hazardous for cyclists. Mountain bikers will also want to check out the Butte 100 Mountain Bike race held in the summer months.
The Copperway Trail System that runs across Historic Uptown and along the wetlands near I-90/I-15 on the Flats also offers visitors an excellent way to experience some of the most interesting parts of Butte on foot.