Karst Camp – Big Sky, MT Ghost Town of the Month

Take a giant step back to the early days of Yellowstone tourism with a visit to Karst Camp, located near Big Sky, Montana, on Hwy 191, between Bozeman and West Yellowstone.  Drive 7.4 miles north of the junction to Big Sky. Cross the bridge and you’ll find a new subdivision of houses and cabins. Some of the originals are here and there is also a trail that leads up to the old mine.

  • Established in 1901 by Pete Karst to host early visitors to Yellowstone National Park.
  • With 25 guest cabins, Karst Camp saw up to 600 tourists a summer.
  • Remains one of the region’s earliest dude ranches
  • Features original buildings and the entrance of an old asbestos mine.

Karst was given the land as back payment by his employer, the Cooper Tie Company. He first built a cabin for himself followed by a total of 25 guest cabins. In 1937 he installed a tow rope for skiers as well as a bar and brothel for the local miners.

At its peak, Karst’s ranch saw up to 600 summer visitors. Today, only a few of the old cabins remain surrounded by a modern-day subdivision, but access is easy to this beautiful canyon in the Gallatin Mountains. Visitors can take a peek at a few of the original cabins, enjoy a short hike up to the old mine, and imagine the rugged conditions both residents and tourists must have had to endure to appreciate Yellowstone Country 100 years ago.

Karst operated this resort for fifty years and eventually retired.  The original cabins are still standing and are occupied today.  This area was one of Montana’s unusual present day mining ventures – an asbestos mine.

karst camp

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIONEER MUSEUM Pete and Nell Karst near the pumps and bus at the Karst Ranch.