Visitors interested in the excellent wildlife viewing opportunities afforded by the Dillon area should consider a visit to the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, located just to the east of town. Established in 1933, the refuge encompasses over 40,000 acres of land at the foot of the Centennial Mountains, and is home to over 200 species of birds and loads of wild game. Located at the head of the Red Rock River system, this refuge an especially important migratory stop for the endangered trumpeter swan.
There are several scenic road tours that will bring visitors to a variety of recreational and historical areas of merit to the northwest of Dillon. Starting on highway 278 just to the north of Dillon, visitors will find Bannack Ghost Town, thought by many to be the best preserved ghost town in Montana. Built during the 1862 gold rush of the area, Bannack is now a state park and has a self-guided tour that introduces visitors into what mining life in Montana entailed. Highway 278 circumnavigates the Pioneer Mountains and heads for Wisdom, where visitors can turn west toward the Bitterroot valley and Lemhi Pass, the site of the Continental Divide crossing of the Lewis & Clark Party on their westward journey. Before reaching the pass, visitors will pass the Big Hole Battlefield National Monument, the site along the Nee Me Po Trail of a major clash that occurred between the Nez Perce Indians and a Washington based US army detachment in 1877.
To the east of Dillon, the Ruby River Valley is an area is the site of the Alder Gulch strike and Virginia City. Gold was first discovered in Alder Gulch in 1863 and Virginia City was founded during the proceeding gold rush to the area, serving as the second territorial capital of Montana for a time. Over $100 million in ore was pulled out of this vein by 1900 and the mining operations were on the decline, though somehow Virginia City survived. The entire downtown area is populated by restored 19th century buildings and as it is one of the best examples of gold rush architectural style that Montana has to offer. The town was given a well deserved designation of National Historic Landmark in 1962.
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