Finally! The tourist hatch has subsided and locals can breathe again. Fall’s the perfect time to head to Ennis for the weekend—there’s a plethora of possibilities in this corner of southwest Montana, and choosing a starting point can be overwhelming. Here’s a guide to help you out.
Everyone knows about the hunting around Ennis, but did you know about the annual Hunters’ Feed every October on the Friday before rifle season opens? Chefs of all abilities offer up their best wild-game dishes on Main Street, and attendees get to vote for their favorite fare—with categories for chili, non-chili, and most creative. You can attend this free event as a judge or enter your own dish for a shot at the coveted “Best Overall” trophy.
With the crowds all but gone, now’s the time to chase trout—and fishing on the Madison during the harvest season can be unforgettable. The seasonal shallowing from heat and irrigation lets you wade to holes, pockets, and riffles that would have only been accessible by boat during spring and summer. Fall is known for big browns, but remember that the rainbows and cutthroats are still biting too.
If water’s not your scene, hit the trails instead. Those pockets of perfect fall weather are a great opportunity to discover local trails. Try out the Hollow Top Lake trail in the Tobacco Roots, a medium-hard, 12.5-mile round-trip hike leading up to breathtaking views of the Spanish Peaks and Gallatin Valley. The lake at the top is home to rainbow trout and you’re likely to see wildlife along the way. Also, check out the trail winding along Jack Creek, across the valley in the Madison Range. It starts out flat and easy, getting more strenuous as the hike continues, and eventually opening up to stunning views of Lone Peak, Fan Mountain, and Cedar Mountain. A word of warning: this area is bear country. And be smart wherever you go: hunters are out and about, so wear bright colors.
As fall comes to a close, experience Ennis during their old-fashioned Christmas Stroll on December 7. Santa’s out, stores are open late, and live holiday music serenades the crowd at the Lions Club Park along the Madison. Make a festive day of it—catch a movie, get a bite to eat at Pit Stop Pizza, and top it all of with a nightcap at the Silver Dollar Saloon.
There’s no shortage of fun and recreation to be found in Ennis during the fall—something tourists have yet to catch on to. Visit this hospitable little town and enjoy all that Ennis has to offer.