Outdoor Ennis

Springtime recreation in Madison County

Every outdoor excursion, even an early-spring overnighter, needs a good base camp. Ennis fills that niche quite nicely, providing adventure, entertainment, and accommodation all without busting the budget. For more information on Madison County, including a calendar of events, check out ennischamber.com.

The town of Ennis is literally located on the banks of the world-famous Madison River, which makes it a popular destination for anglers from around the world. And while there’s really no such thing as a secret spot on the Madison, with some planning and preparation, there’s still some great fishing to be had. Try not to limit yourself—nearby lakes like Hebgen, Quake, Ennis, and Harrison all offer a stillwater alternative to muddy spring flows and can be very productive. Check in with the Tackle Shop or Shedhorn Sports and review current regulations before heading out.

Be it in a tent or a camper, spending the night in a sleeping bag tends to enhance any outdoor adventure. The Ennis area and surrounding lakes have several campgrounds, many of which are open year-round. Visit fwp.mt.gov or ennismontanaonline.com for more info and campground locations, and stop by Deemo's Meats to stock up for that big dinner by the campfire. Remember that spring in Montana is merely a veil behind which a cantankerous Old Man Winter still lurks, so bring a warm bag and plenty of extra clothing. If the parents are tagging along in their motorhome, point 'em to Ennis RV for all the usual comforts. 

Ghost Towns
Just a short drive west of Ennis are the Old West mining camps of Virginia City and Nevada City. Spring is the perfect time to visit, mainly due to the lack of crowds. These two towns are steeped in history—much of it bloody—and have been used as locations for several films. For more information, visit virginiacity.com.

After a long Montana winter, it’s difficult for some folks to imagine a spring getaway that doesn’t involve warm, emerald-green water. The good news is that Madison County has it—just a short drive east by northeast of Ennis is a tiny tick on the map: the crossroads burg of Norris, home to the world-famous Norris Hot Springs. In recent years this natural spring has been revamped with a poolside bar and grill, modernized dressing rooms, and a bandshell dome. With live music most weekends, Norris Hot Springs makes a unique and revitalizing experience. Get more info at norrishotsprings.com.

No outdoor adventure is complete without the proper libation to toast it with. Fortunately, Ennis has you covered. In addition to a Gravel Bar and a couple other great downtown watering holes, there’s also Willie’s Distillery, producer of several varieties of Montana-made liquor. Stop in for a sip of Montana Moonshine, and leave with a bottle of Bighorn Bourbon to share around the campfire. Tasting-room hours and other info can be found at williesdistillery.com.

The above-mentioned activities are only a taste of the numerous experiences available in and around Ennis this spring—there’s also great hiking, biking, boating, and antler-hunting. So whatever your taste in adventure, look to Madison County to both whet and satiate your outdoor appetite.