Colstrip is a city of 2,300 people (2018) in Southeastern Montana. Established in 1924 and incorporated as a city in 1998, Colstrip is the largest city in Rosebud County with 24% of the total population. Colstrip's primary industries are coal mining and electricity production. The entire community celebrates Colstrip Days annually on the weekend prior to the 4th of July.
Colstrip, Montana was established in the early 20th century at the edge of Armell's Creek. The nearest towns are Lame Deer, Montana and Forsyth, Montana. Colstrip's rolling grass hills have sandstone outcroppings, ponderosa pines, and sagebrush. It is near a coal strip mine, and coal-powered electricity generating plants. You may be visiting relatives, interviewing for a job, seeing a high school game, or just driving through, and you should enjoy Colstrip while you are here.
In 2014, Sports Illustrated Magazine named Colstrip the top sports town in Montana.
Colstrip was established by the Northern Pacific Railway in 1924 as a company town to provide coal for their steam locomotives. The mining at Rosebud Mine two miles south of the town is open pit strip mining, where draglines remove soil above the layer of bituminous coal from the Fort Union Formation.
During World War II, the Colstrip mine was identified as strategically important because it supplied coal for the Northern Pacific Railway steam locomotives hauling military equipment for the war effort. The mine was guarded from sabotage, and the employees were not allowed to quit their jobs.
In 1958 the railroad switched to using diesel locomotives and the Colstrip mine was shut down. In 1959 Montana Power Company purchased the rights to the mine and the town, and resumed mining operations in the 1970s with plans to build coal-fired electrical plants.
The power plants were built in the 1970s and 1980s by a collection of contractors including Bechtel. During this construction period Colstrip was a boomtown, with a large increase in population. Plants 1 & 2 were operational in 1975 and 1976, and plants 3 & 4 were operational in 1984 and 1986.
Colstrip is 29 miles south of Interstate 94 on highway 39. There are no commercial buses, flights, or trains that service Colstrip. The nearest large city with a commercial airport is Billings, which is 120 miles from Colstrip.
There is no taxi service for Colstrip. You should have your own car or motorcycle, or rental to get around.
- Westmoreland Coal, Western Energy, 138 Rosebud Ln, ☏ +1 406 748-5100. Contact for tour of Rosebud Mine
- Colstrip Power Plant, 580 Willow Ave. Contact for tour
Every year on the last weekend in June, the town celebrates Colstrip Days. This is great opportunity to visit Colstrip, since there are tours, parades, plays, and other special events.
- Castle Rock Lake (located at Highway 39 turn-off out of Colstrip, highway sign plainly marked), ☏ +1 406 748-3326. 5am to 10pm. Fishing, picnic area, playground, horseshoes, 2 1/2 mile path around lake to walk or bike, 3.2 mile hiking trail free.
- Colstrip Park and Recreation District, 110 Park St, ☏ +1 406 748-3326, email@example.com. Mon-Thurs 4am to 9pm, Fri 4am to 7pm, Sat, Sun 8am to 3pm. Fitness facility and community center, playground, splash park, pool
- Ponderosa Butte Golf Course, 5000 Pine Butte Dr, ☏ +1 406 748-2700, firstname.lastname@example.org. 8am to dark. challenging 9-hole public golf course
- Schoolhouse History and Art Center, 400 Woodrose, ☏ +1 406 748-4822, email@example.com. Mon-Fri 11am to 5pm. Rotating art exhibits, Colstrip area history, pottery studio and classroom
- Colstrip Town Pump, 112 Willow Ave, ☏ +1 406 748-3533. gas station
- Colstrip Super Stop, ☏ +1 406 748-4514.
- Got Socks Clothing, 2420 Pinebutte Dr, ☏ +1 406 748-7414. Clothing store
- Rosebud Foods, 3 Cherry St, ☏ +1 406 748-3377. Mon-Sun 7am to 7pm. Grocery store
- Coal Bowl, 6111 Homestead Blvd, ☏ +1 406 748-2695. Family restaurant
- June's Bungalow, 122 Woodrose St, ☏ +1 406 748-4700. Family restaurant
- Mulligans Restaurant and Pub, 1 Long Dr, ☏ +1 406 213-5034, firstname.lastname@example.org. 7 days 9am to 7:30pm. Breakfast all day, burgers
- Rizo's, 17 Cherry St, ☏ +1 406 748-3812. Mon to Thur 11am to 8pm, Fri and Sat 8am to 8pm. Diner
- Miner House Inn, 1 Cherry St, ☏ +1 406 748-4112. Bar
- Whiskey Gulch Saloon, 17 Spruce St, ☏ +1 406 748-3891. 4pm to 12:30am, closed Sunday. Bar
- Castle Rock Bed and Breakfast, 7412 Castlerock Lake Dr, ☏ +1 406 748-3653, email@example.com. near Castle Rock Lake
- Fort Union Inn, 5 Dogwood St, ☏ +1 406 740-2928. WiFi, fridge, microwave, walking distance to local businesses
- Colstrip Inn and Suites, 6227 Main St, ☏ +1 406 748-3400, toll-free: +1 855 875-0212. WiFi, breakfast, microwave/fridge, truck parking, pet friendly
A good starting point for travel contacts is the Colstrip Chamber of Commerce.
Be careful when visiting bars in and around Colstrip. Be respectful, and if you enter a bar that has tree stumps chained to the floor for bar stools, be very respectful.
Nearby Forsyth Montana is a pleasant river town on the Yellowstone River, and seat of the Rosebud County. Nearby Lame Deer is located on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, and in the summer hosts a great Pow Wow.