With summer quickly drawing to a close, it is time to decide on that final excursion. The kids will be heading back to school in the next few weeks, and the weather – knowing Montana – is about to change drastically. Living in Montana, our summers are filled with camping, hiking, fishing, boating, and road-trips, all surrounded by family and friends. These moments, memories, and getaways are what make saying goodbye to the beautiful summer months so difficult. That being said, I have put together my five favorite weekend excursions in the area. Hopefully this will help you get the wheels turning, and allow you to create your own list of favorites.
This site is one of the 10 state parks located in Southwest Montana. Located along the Jefferson river, the park offers an oasis off MT Highway 2. When visiting the park, you first drive up to the campground. If you are interested in spending the night, you can reserve a spot here. If you continue up the road, you will reach a visitors center from which the tours depart. Each tour lasts about 2 hours, and takes you deep inside the bowels of the mountain. Lined with stalagmites, stalactites, pools, and columns, the caverns offer some of the most amazing views, all of which are hidden from sight. This is the perfect summer outing for people of all ages! Even the kids enjoy themselves – as they take in the natural wonder.
Tucked in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Cliff Lake is a beautiful oasis and perfect camping spot. Although there are only a few sites available, there are several other campgrounds in the area. I can think of no better place to be than on a paddle board in the middle of this beautiful lake. This is the perfect place to go camping, layout a picnic, or put the kayak in the water. This is a must on any Montana bucket list.
When visitors think of Montana, many picture days spent on the farm. Grant-Kohrs Ranch will take you back to a simpler time marred by hard work. While visiting the Historic Site, you can take a tour of the main ranch house, watch as the employees continue to run the farm, or participate in a variety of ranger led activities. There are also seven miles of walking trails for visitors to dig deeper into the ranch and have the experience of a lifetime.
Whether this is your first time out or you are a seasoned professional, the Madison River offers some of the best fishing in Montana. If you have your own equipment, there are countless fishing access points along highway 287 in any direction out of Ennis, MT. If you don’t have your own equipment, are new to the sport, or are looking for a guide, there are countless options for outfitters and guides in the area – take a look here. There is something calming, something that heals as you cast your line into the calm water. Fishing the Madison is a day well spent in anyone’s book.
Named by Meriwether Lewis in 1805 on the historic Lewis & Clark Expedition, the Gates of the Mountains are located 17 miles north of Helena, MT, on I-15. The boat tour lasts about 2 hours and features a stop at the Meriwether campground, history of the area, a description of the Mann Gulch Fire, pictographs painted by Indians, and a variety of wildlife. This relaxing activity is the perfect way to spend a day in the sun with the whole family. Read more here.
Any way you spin it, take this opportunity to go on one more trip in the area before the summer comes to a close.