Big Butte Open Space
Big Butte's Prominence
Big Butte is Butte's most significant natural landmark and namesake of the community. The Big Butte landform is the eroded neck of an extinct volcano that last erupted over 49 million years ago. That's long after the granite that hosts Butte's rich mineral deposits was formed about 76 to 78 million years ago.
In 1910, struck by the formation's independence and proximity to the Montana School of Mines, students surveyed the southeast slop and scaled the hill to monogram the Big Butte with an "M." The "M" was illuminated in 1962 and remains a wayfinding beacon for the Butte community.
Since Butte's inception, residents have considered Big Butte a sentinel and recreation resource. Many Butte residents recount their first experience climbing to the summit of the Big Butte, armed with pack lunches and a sense of adventure. Butte-Silver Bow acquired the big Butte in 2006 to protect the recreation area for future generations to enjoy.
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Recognizing the Big Butte for its history and significance to the Butte community, the state's Department of Justice Natural Resource Damage Grant Program granted Butte-Silver Bow funds to acquire the Big Butte. Since 2005, Natural Resource Damage Program funds have contributed to the development of recreational trails and perimeter protection to aid the return of native plants and animals to the area.
Community volunteers, service organizations and local job-training organizations contributed to the initial phases of the park improvement. In 2012 and 2013, local Eagle Scout Mitch Rosa inspired the development of signage to interpret the uniquely Butte experience of climbing the butte and enjoying the scenic vista.
Butte is surrounded on three sides by the Continental Divide, formed by the Rocky Mountains. The Rockies' East Ridges runs along the eastern extent of Butte and Silver Bow County and links to the Highland Mountains just south of Butte. The Highlands ascend to just over 10,000 feet. West of Big Butte, in the distance, the Anaconda-Pintler and Flint Creek Ranges can be seen.