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Tunnel to the Pit.

Lake of Death: Berkeley Pit Overlook

Field review by the editors.

Butte, Montana

Never underestimate the drawing power of a big hole in the ground, especially one filled with a deadly soup of arsenic, cobalt, and cadmium.

The Berkeley Pit at one time was America's Largest Truck-Operated Open Pit Copper Mine. Now it's a massive lake of deadly drainage, as large as 484 football fields, 1,800 feet deep (deeper than any of the Great Lakes) and a mile across. The pit holds over 40 billion gallons of waste so deadly that in 1995 it killed over 300 snow geese that mistakenly landed on it. The snow geese slaughter happened again in late November 2016, when 10,000 of them landed on the liquid and thousands succumbed.

The mine pit is also an official attraction! Pay two dollars, walk through a tunnel cut through the pit's side, and emerge at the Overlook and Interpretive Pavilion, with picnic tables, restrooms, and a snack bar. You're kept safely out of the Death Zone, and serenaded by honking horns that try to discourage birds from landing on the toxic brew. The water level is rising even though the lake is literally eating its way down through the bedrock, and its deadly contaminants can display a dazzling palette of colors -- red, yellow, neon green -- in the sunlight.

Lake of Death: Berkeley Pit Overlook

Berkeley Pit Viewing Stand

200 Shields Ave., Butte, MT
Berkeley Pit Viewing Stand. Northeast edge of the city. I-90/15 exit 126. Drive north through town on Montana St., turn right onto Park St., and drive a mile east. On the left.
Daily Mar-Nov 10-5, or by appt. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $5.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Piccadilly Museum - Relics of TransportationPiccadilly Museum - Relics of Transportation, Butte, MT - < 1 mi.
Statue of Auditor, the Strip Mine DogStatue of Auditor, the Strip Mine Dog, Butte, MT - 1 mi.
Our Lady of the RockiesOur Lady of the Rockies, Butte, MT - 2 mi.
In the region:
Bleu Horses, Three Forks, MT - 44 mi.

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