If you round a corner on a winding gravel road near Pipestone, MT and come upon people tapping on rocks with hammers, do not be scared. These are not crack-brained prospectors, they’re just enjoying the bell-like tones of the Ringing Rocks.
This large pile of boulders is an extremely rare geological formation that can be found in only two other places on Earth. (Pennsylvania and Australia) The rocks chime when tapped lightly with a hammer and each rock has a different tone. If a boulder is removed from the pile, however, it doesn’t ring.
Even though I was born and raised in Montana, I had never heard about these rocks until I read about them about three weeks ago. I definitely had to go find them. And that meant Jim had to find them too.
We left the motor home at Wheat Montana (remember those fabulous caramel rolls?) and headed out on our quest. I knew the exit we were supposed to take off I-90 (Exit 241 – Pipestone). But I missed the sign for the Ringing Rocks and we drove about 15 miles out of our way (on a gravel road that wasn’t maintained very well) and were about ready to give up. As we got back to the entrance to the interstate I spotted the small sign pointing the way.
I convinced Jim we really did want to go so we headed up this narrow, gravel road. It is about four miles up to the rocks.
The first part of the road is pretty easy but the higher you climb the narrower the road. There are many places where two vehicles would not be able to pass each other and someone is going to have to back up a long, long ways. And the closer you get to the rocks the more treacherous the road becomes. The last 1/8 mile is loaded with large, jagged rocks and without a high clearance vehicle, you’d be in trouble.
You can park at the bottom of this last 1/8 mile and walk up. But listen carefully for vehicles coming down the road because there are curves that you cannot see around.
We were lucky. We only met one vehicle on our way up and we were at a spot where they could pull over. The only other vehicle we saw, arrived at the rocks just as we were getting ready to leave. When you go – and it really is worth it – don’t forget your hammer!