My Public Lands Roadtrip: Ringing Rocks in Montana
Ringing Rocks outside of Butte, Montana, is a very unique geologic site. It may be one of the only areas where the public is encouraged to hit public land with hammers. This gigantic pile of boulders make distinct musical chimes when hit with hammers.
After taking a mountain road up to a parking area, it’s a quick hike to the Ringing Rocks boulder pile in the Highland Mountains. The road to Ringing Rocks is just off the Pipestone exit near Homestake Pass. In addition to Ringing Rocks, the area offers an extensive network of off-highway vehicle trails. A high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle is strongly encouraged. The road gets quite narrow and rough toward the top.
Once visitors make it to the top, it’s pretty easy to see which rocks make the best musical instruments by the many hammer strikes evident on the rocks.
It’s unclear exactly how the rocks got their musical abilities, but it is believed that a combination of the composition of these particular rocks and how the pile has eroded may contribute to this unique quality. The rocks no longer ring if removed from the pile.
To learn more about this natural phenomenon and the other recreation opportunities in the Pipestone area, visit on.doi.gov/1KajFFI.
Story and photo by Alyse Backus, BLM Montana/ Dakotas.