National Forest surrounds Birch Creek Center on all sides and the opportunities for outdoor activities are virtually endless. These are a few activities that our guests have requested information about in the past. If you have questions about the availability of other activities, contact us and we will research your interests.
Hiking in the Birch Creek Area
The gravel road to Birch Creek Center offers over 15 miles of touring. Bikers will often encounter "washboard" conditions on Birch Creek Road, so a proper bicycle and safety gear is strongly recommended. Several established trails in the area are wide enough for a bike and the terrain will present a challenge to the seasoned mountain biker.
Each year the Birch Creek Center operates, supports, or hosts numerous and various programs. From 1st graders discovering how trees grow so tall to grandparents fly-fishing with their grandchildren, the Birch Creek Center is where explorations as well as memories are made.
Our staff takes pride in serving hearty, nutritious meals for groups of up to 100. Menus vary seasonally. Meals are served in the Bender Center buffet style and may be eaten inside or outside on the deck. Sack lunches are always available in place of buffet meals. We are delighted to work with you to create the perfect meal to meet your specific needs and event themes. We are always willing to provide vegetarian and vegan meal options. The Birch Creek Center’s kitchen is not available for private use.
The Birch Creek Center participates in the Farm to College program in order to provide the freshest possible ingredients that are naturally grown or organically produced by grower’s right here in Montana. We use organic greens, vegetables, and fruits in our salad bar. When available, our beef is provided by Montana producers. Pork is provided by local growers and packaged to our specifications. Wheat Montana baked goods are featured.
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A maximum of 80 participants is accepted for overnight use and 150 participants for day use only. A minimum of 20 participants is required for booking the Center. Any group of 60 participants will have exclusive use of the Birch Creek Center to itself. A group less than 60 people will share the site with a compatible group. Under these circumstances facility use and meal times will be at the final discretion of the staff. Directions: Traveling on Interstate 15, turn west at Apex Exit 74, located 11 miles north of Dillon and 50 miles south of Butte. Drive 10 miles on the gravel Birch Creek Road. Turn left at the "Birch Creek Outdoor Education Center" sign, continue across the Birch Creek bridge, and straight up the hill.
The Birch Creek Outdoor Education and Conference Center is located 22 miles northwest of Dillon Montana within the Beaverhed-Deerlodge National Forest along the eastern slopes of the Pioneer Mountains.
The Center was originally constructed in 1935 as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp. The CCC was a direct outgrowth of Rosevelt’s “New Deal” program in response to the financial crisis and high unemployment of the Great Depression. In 1939 Camp Birch Creek consisted of 15 permanent buildings which housed 200 men. The seven original structures that remain at the present location represent one of the best examples of a permanent CCC camp that yet remain in the nation. With the start of the Second World War, Camp Birch Creek was abandoned. In 1955 the Evangelical Covenant Church of America operated the site as the “Birch Creek Bible Camp.” In the late 1970’s the site came under the jurisdiction of the United States Forest Service (USFS). An environmental assessment from 1979 recommended that the site be developed as an educational site. In 1982 the Birch Creek site was formally listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1983, The University of Montana Western School of Outreach began operating the Birch Creek Outdoor Education and later, the Bender Conference Center. The Bender, constructed during the mid 1980’s, is a modern building with dining facilities and additional overnight accommodations.
Today, the Center provides a place for diverse educational, recreational, and social opportunities for the local and global economy. The Center encourages and supports field-based and group enriching experiences, thus enhancing educational opportunities for the young, traditional, and lifelong learners. These opportunities include K-12 programming, adult training workshops, youth camps, family reunions, and service programs.
Kolby Brown is a literature major at the University of Montana Western.
Recent Montana Western graduate Taeler Rodriguez has been accepted to the University of Denver’s graduate program.
Marcus Williams came to Montana Western to play football and major in business administration.
UMW grad Justinn Marshall was accepted into the University of Washington's regional medical education program.
Coming to Montana Western was part of fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming a doctor for Lindsey Densmore.