West Yellowstone to Ennis
Looking to explore a little more of Montana while visiting America’s first national park, Yellowstone? Or maybe you are headed to Bozeman, Butte or Glacier National Park. Whatever the case may be, Ennis offers visitors of West Yellowstone with the perfect day trip! Whether you are looking for recreation, history or the opportunity to explore a charming community - this trip offers something for everyone. While the most direct route out of Yellowstone may take you directly from highway 191 to the interstate, there is a more dramatic and less traveled route that starts 22 miles out of West Yellowstone and takes you on an amazing journey on US Highway 287. Travel past bison, big horn sheep and elk habitat, take in views of Hebgen Lake and marvel at the forces of nature unleashed at Quake Lake. Finally, drive through the incredible Madison River valley where “big sky” comes to life and discover the great western town of Ennis, Montana.
First on the drive is the crystal-blue water Hebgen Lake with its picture-perfect mountain backdrop. There are recreation options here for boaters and fishermen. Take a break at the West Fork of the Madison and park your RV or pitch a tent at Galloup's Slide Inn or The Madison Bend Campground. Or look for the marker and spend the afternoon exploring Cliff and Wade Lakes. Drive along the Madison River and grab dinner at the Grizzly Bar Restaurant in Cameron before heading up the valley. Another 10 miles brings you to the Madison Canyon Earthquake Lake Visitors Center. If you are inclined, it doesn't take long to string up the rod and angle for a bit in the Madison - there are numerous public fishing access points from West Yellowstone to Ennis including the dramatic Palisades Cliffs, $3 Bridge, Windy Point and Story Ditch. Pick up a few tips on the hot flies and best spots at the Beartooth Flyfishing Lodge and Fly Shop.
Cliff and Wade Lakes are part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Cliff Lake is the larger of the two while Wade Lake is more easily accessible. Both offer campgrounds and are the perfect place to enjoy a little water recreation during the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter.
On August 17, 1959, an earthquake (magnitude of 7.3) devastated the Madison River Canyon area, causing a massive landslide which dammed the river and created Quake Lake. The visitor center is open Memorial Day through mid-September and provides a detailed account of the aftermath of the quake.
Anglers from across the world come to Montana to fish in “paradise.” Montana’s rivers are home to an abundance of trout, walleye, and bass that are ready to take a fly or lure. Whether you are a regular fisherman, or simply off on vacation, Ennis has something for you. Visit the guides and outfitters in the area to plan your perfect trip.
Ennis is a fishing town. Situated on the blue-ribbon Madison river, visitors will find river inspired art, the National Fish Hatchery, a number of river guides and fly fishing shops. As you stroll along Main Street you will find an outdoor art walk, a variety of restaurants, Burnt Tree Brewing, Willie’s Distillery, charming shops and more. Explore the community, stay at the El Western Cabins & Lodges or Fan Mountain Inn, grab coffee from Maples, On the Fly or Kalena’s. There is plenty to see in Ennis, or you are just over the hill from Virginia City, a living ghost town that offers visitors a glimpse of Montana’s gold rush history. Relax in the natural Hot Springs recurred to locals as the Water of the Gods.
Scattered across the landscape of Ennis, visitors will find a variety of art. From sculptures to murals, the art found across town exemplifies the history and culture of the area, specifically that of the influence of agriculture and fishing. Stop by the Ennis Chamber office to pick up a guide, and enjoy your tour!
The Water of the Gods offers a simple, rustic, yet authentic experience for visitors. With clear and clean hot mineral water bubbling up from the earth at 120 degrees, the historic wooden pool is filled. With a valve installed by miners in the 1880s, the pool is emptied nightly. Food, drink and live music await visitors.