It’s only four miles from Butte, Montana as the crow flies, but it takes a good two and a half hours to get up and back to see “Our Lady of the Rockies,” 8,500 feet above sea level, high on top of the Continental Divide.
At ninety feet tall, the ginormous Virgin Mary is the third largest statue in the United States (the Statue of Liberty and a Pegasus stomping on a dragon in south Florida both have her beat). The idea for the statue originated with one man, who dreamed of a monument in honor of his wife who had battled cancer and won. He wanted a way to express his gratitude, and also honor the contributions of all women of the world.
It took a few years of planning, and in 1985 the Lady was up, and open for tours in the summer and fall. Completely funded by donations, it took a team of volunteers, engineers, construction workers and the Nevada Army National Guard to get it up the mountain. The monumental figure had to be broken down into four pieces for the ride, courtesy of a Sikorsky CH-54B Skycrane helicopter.
Besides the statue itself, the site has a small chapel with an observation deck, and a Women’s Memorial wall, where anyone can underwrite a tile dedicated to a woman who made a difference in their lives. Our Lady of the Rockies might not top Lady Liberty or that crazy Pegasus/dragon thing, but only she lights up the Rocky Mountain night sky.
Know Before You Go
The spot is east of I-15 as you head north from Butte. You can see the Lady any time from a distance (she’s very big), but bring binoculars if you plan to see from the roadside. Plus it’s lit up at night, and well worth the wait. From June through October there are scheduled tours directly up to the site, including the Lady, the Chapel and the Wall of Women monument. To get this close, private vehicles are not permitted, so taking a tour is by bus traveling from the gift shop at the Butte Plaza Mall (3100 Harrison Ave). The round trip takes two and a half hours (weather permitting), and to make reservations call 406-782-1221. Check the website for admission fees and other details.