Start with families that have been ranching the same land for five generations. Add anglers chasing blue ribbon fly fishing, and you begin to understand Ennis, Montana. Situated on the banks of the Madison River, and flanked on three sides by the Gravelly Range, the Madison Mountains, and the Tobacco Root Mountains, Ennis is the perfect base camp for a Montana vacation: big enough to offer a variety of dining, lodging, and shopping opportunities, but small enough that you can stroll from one end of Main Street to the other in just a few minutes.
The Irishman William Ennis founded the town in the 1860s, and before that, the area was long prized by the Shoshone, Flathead, and Bannack tribes for the abundance of hunting it offered in the spring. Old West history surrounds Ennis, twelve miles to the west on US Highway 287, sit Virginia City and Nevada City. Founded in 1863 at the height of the gold rush, Virginia and Nevada Cities are two of the best preserved gold rush era towns in America. Between to the two of them, they offer 150 nationally registered historic landmarks. Ennis itself has a wealth of history and the Madison Valley has a past rich and storied enough to satisfy any history hound.
Whenever possible, plan your trip around July 4th. People from all over Montana religiously attend the annual Fourth of July Parade and Rodeo. The fantastic small town parade has been an Ennis tradition since 1935, and the rodeo offers one of the best and most competitive examples of this old west staple.
Water dominates Ennis. In addition to the blue ribbon trout stream of the Madison, Ennis is also home to the Ennis National Fish Hatchery and the Madison Canyon Earthquake Lake Visitors Center. Come for the fishing, the history and the mountains, stay for the hometown atmosphere.
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