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Berkeley Pit

View an Open Pit Copper Mine

Open: March - November
Hours: 9am - 5pm
Cost: $
Group Size: Call

About Berkeley Pit

The Berkeley Pit, near the Continental Divide, is a former open pit copper mine. It is roughly a mile long, a half-mile wide, and around 1,780 feet deep. The pit contains water up to about 1,000 feet. The water is highly acidic and contains extremely high levels of heavy metals and toxic chemicals. You would not want to fall in. 

Opened in 1955, Berkeley Pit was mined until it's closure in 1982. The mine was operated for years by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, and, then, by Atlantic Richfield (ARCO).

Once referred to as "The Richest Hill on Earth," it is now one of the largest Superfund sites in the United States.

  • Phone: 800-735-6814
  • Email: chamber@buttechamber.org
Image may be subject to copyright
Image may be subject to copyright

What to Expect

Berkeley Pit is one of the few places on earth were people pay to view toxic waste. The site attracts approximately 35,000 visitors every year. The site has always attracted visitors due to it's enormous size. However, it's become even more popular since it's classification as a Superfund location. Like Chernobyl, it's now considered something of a "dark tourism" site. 
Visitors can view the mine from a viewing platform, located well above the the lip of the pit. The pit contains over 51 billion gallons of toxic liquid, laced with arsenic, cadmium, and lead. It tends to glow a bright, shimmering green. Berkeley Pit's contents have, on more than one occasion, proven deadly to unlucky waterfowl that have landed in it. For example, in 2016, a flock of more than 3,000 snow geese perished after taking a break in the lake during inclement winter weather.

On a lighter note, Berkeley Pit has a gift shop, which sells a variety of copper products and other mementos.

The Berkeley Pit Viewing Stand is managed by the Butte Chamber of Commerce. Getting to the site is simple: Take Exit 126 off of I-90, and follow the signs.
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Reviews


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The Berkeley pit is amazing to see! Nowhere else in the world can you stand on the edge of an open mining pit (which is now filled with water). It costs $3 a person to enter, but that small fee as well worth it!
Worth a Visit! Marty M F, Trip Advisor
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This is nothing short of a shocking educational experience. We've all heard of the Berkeley Pit and to see it is stunning. You will learn how it came to be, the types of environmental issues, the long-lasting implications, and how a city such as Butte comes to live with it. Butte is rich with history and a varied people who all contributed greatly to our U.S. economy around the turn of the century, good and bad. I will be back to Butte again.
A must-see for all people. Sava W, Trip Advisor
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Very interesting, this is my third time here because I always want to know what is happening with this pit . It has so much history. It’s a very inexpensive tour that you by yourself. Push a button and it tells you the story. Just very good about history about Butte. I advise doing this and then heading up to the memorial .
Very interesting. Brent S, Trip Advisor
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