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Granite Butte, MT | December 2021

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4.4 Miles, +1,233 feet, -30 feet 

Winter Access Directions to TH:

From I-15 north of Helena – Exit at Lincoln Road (Exit-200) – Head West on Hwy-279 for 22.3 miles

Turn Left (west) towards Stemple Pass – drive 8.3 miles to the Pass (Pass is plowed in winter)

Park in the parking area on the left (west) side of the road at the pass.


Snowshoe/Ski Directions:

Ski or snowshoe (westerly) on the Marsh Creek Road (FS-485)  3.0 miles to the Granite Butte Lookout road.

Turn left (easterly) on the Granite Butte Road – Continue 1.4 miles to the Lookout (summit).


2021 Trip Summary

We rented the lookout for an overnight “UTC Rollover Activation”.  The USFS road should generally have a packed base since it is regularly used by skiers, snowshoers, and likely snowmobilers.  The usage is, however, fairly light - so some drifts and soft spots should be expected.  The final approach to the summit on the divide is likely to be wind-blown with bare spots.

Our overnight stay was an adventure.  The temperature was well below zero and the wind was blowing a gale that kept the lookout bucking against its guys all night.  The wood stove helped to take the edge off the bitter cold but required refilling every hour or so.  We were pleasantly surprised to find a portable propane heater which worked nicely to keep our legs warm for dinner and the activation – until we ran out of propane canisters.  I spent some time the next morning splitting wood and restocking the pile for the next visitors.  This was a bit of a challenge, since the strong wind often blew away the wood rounds before I could split them.  I also had to spend some time rewarming after each load to prevent frostbite.  We were questioning the wisdom of attempting the return journey in such extreme conditions but found the wind to be nearly calm once off the exposed summit.  The return trip was very pleasant.

The lookout is available to rent year-round via .  There are very nice views from the summit.