Many guests at Madison Valley Ranch choose to take a day off from fly fishing to enjoy the lifestyle and many attractions of SW Montana nearby. Day trips in Yellowstone National Park, shopping excursions, scenic drives and endless opportunities for outdoor activities are all possible. Have a look at our suggestions for things to do in SW Montana and let us know how we can work them into your stay with us.
The United States first national park is worth a visit if you've never been to it before. Even if you have, its 3,472 square miles offer an endless opportunity for exploration. Whether you're interested in hiking, informational tours, geology, geothermal features, wildlife viewing, people watching or fly fishing - the park has it all. YNP's West Entrance is about 1-hour from Madison Valley Ranch and offers the perfect day for families and friends that wish to take a day off from float fishing.
Known as "a cowboy town with a fishing problem", Ennis is just a stone’s throw away from the lodge is a great place to spend the afternoon or free day from fishing. The town has festivals and events year-round, from the ever popular Fourth of July Parade & Rodeo to the Ennis on the Madison Fly Fishing Festival in September. In addition to a number of fantastic restaurants & shops, Ennis also has a a local distillery and a brewery that can't be missed.
There are endless hiking trails surrounding the Madison Valley with three national forests within a short drive of MVR. The valley is flanked by the Madison Range to the east and the Gravelly Range to the west. Northwest of town, we also have the Tobacco Roots Mountains. With that said, these mountain ranges are recommended for experienced hikers given the fact that we have a healthy population of grizzly bears in the region (not near the river). That's not to say it is dangerous to hike, but bear spray is a necessary and it is important to know how to use it. Don't worry about bringing your own. We have some for you to borrow. If you're interested in backcountry fly fishing, there is no better activity that hiking into the numerous high mountain lakes and streams in search of untouched trout.
Montana’s first state park showcases one of the most highly decorated limestone caverns in the Northwest at the Lewis and Clark Caverns. Naturally air conditioned, these caves are lined with stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and helictites. See the geologic development and gain an insight into the delicate ecology of this world without light. Plan to spend a minimum of two hours to hike two miles on a guided tour through the caverns. The park also provides hiking trails, a visitor center, an amphitheater, and several picnic areas.
Mountain biking in the local mountain range is relatively uncharted territory simply because not many people do it! There are bike rental companies worth checking out in Bozeman, or you can bring you own. Big Sky Ski Resort is another option where you can use the ski lifts to access their well maintained system of bike trails in a spectacular high elevation setting.
Full and half day horseback rides can be arranged in advance of your visit, with Wolfpack Outfitters. They will customize your horseback ride based upon individual preferences and time schedules in order to provide you with personal service and customer satisfaction. They use well trained horses accustom to mountain trail riding. Expect wonderful views of the Madison Valley during your ride.
The historical mining ghost towns of Virginia City and Nevada City are only 15 miles from the Ranch, and are certainly worth exploring. Virginia City sits high in the Rocky, where gold was first discovered in 1863. Within a year the town grew to over 10,000 and became the Territorial Capital in 1865. Today, Virginia City, “Montana’s main street”, provides an exceptional example of commercial architecture from the later 1800s. Many of the original Victorian era structures are filled with original artifacts.
In downtown Ennis, Montana we have two local watering holes that worth your time. The first is Willie's Distillery which has become popular nationwide in the last few years thanks to their varieties of fine whiskeys and tasty liqueurs. Make sure to ask them for a quick tour while you're there!
New to Ennis in 2019 is Burnt Tree Brewery located across the street from Willie's. This small brewery has caught the local beer drinkers' attention with a diverse selection of locally crafted microbrews and an extremely friendly environment. The brewery features an indoor taproom and a shaded rooftop porch for hot summer days.
You simply cannot come to Ennis without stopping in at our local butcher shop, Deemo's. These folks know how to do it right! From a wide selection of pickled goods to incredible beef jerky, Deemo's is sure to have something for everyone. Next door to Deemo's is The Bottle Barn, the town's only liquor store. MVR's Beer and Wine license does not allow us to serve liquor, however you are welcome to stop by The Bottle Barn on your way through to town to pick up your favorite spirits. Just make sure you bring cash or check because they do not take credit cards.
Locally we have the Madison Meadows Golf Course, which is a well-kept and challenging 9-hole course with picturesque views of the Madison Valley. At 3,245 yds, this course offers several difficult holes that will challenge low handicappers. Outside of Ennis, you'll need to drive to Bozeman, Big Sky or Anaconda for next closest courses. Bozeman has Cottonwood Hills and Bridger Creek, which are fantastic 18-hole public courses. Bozeman also has a few private courses, including the Tom Weiskopf course, Black Bull. Up at Big Sky there's the public Big Sky Golf Course, along with the private courses of Yellowstone Club, Spanish Peaks and Moonlight Basin Reserve. In Anaconda lies a Jack Nicklaus course called Old Works that was built on a mining superfund site. It is a wonderful public course that is worth every minute of the two hour drive to get there. Ask your club pro about reciprocal agreements with Montana's private clubs!
Leave the fly rods at the Ranch and spend a few hours just taking it all in. The Madison River is a great option for scenic floats, photography trips, wildlife safaris or just soaking in the sun. We'll happily set you up with a personable guide and lunches so that you can kick up your feet and just enjoy the day "going with the flow"!
The Madison Valley is home to a mind boggling diversity of different resident and migratory bird species. During the spring you can head over to the lake to see Bald eagles, Golden eagles, Trumpeter swans, Pintail ducks, White pelicans, Sandhill cranes, loons, grebes, Great Blue herons and much, much more. We also commonly spot Western meadowlarks, Red-winged blackbirds, Mountain bluebirds, and Black-capped chickadees as the weather warms. During the summer there are seemingly countless species of flycatchers, woodpeckers, kingfishers, vireos, nuthatches, wrens, thrushes, finches and sparrows. If predator birds interest you, we commonly spot Osprey, hawks, kites, eagles and harriers. Not to mention, there are many instances of us asking ourselves "what is that?!".
Downtown Ennis has quite a few retail stores that are worth browsing for unique art, gifts, clothing and gear. There are a few boutique stores that are inspired by the landscapes and lifestyle of SW Montana. We also have 3 fly shops downtown including The Tackle Shop, Trout Stalkers and Madison River Fishing Company. Be sure to stop into Shedhorn Sports on main street as well. They stock a wide range of outdoor gear and have one of the largest gun selections in the state. Additionally, there are a couple artists and galleries in town if you're looking for an addition to your home. Bern Sundell's studio is located across the street from the Willie's Whiskey and his trout paintings are truly impressive. If you're looking for more shopping, head over to downtown Bozeman where you can find plenty of fantastic retail stores.
Ennis has multiple options for various wellness activities and treatments including yoga, groups fitness classes, massage, facials, pedicures and more. You can head out in the morning for a yoga class before fishing or end the day with a therapeutic massage. If any of this interests you we encourage you to contact our Lodge Manager Manu Redmond for more information. You can give us a call at 800-891-6158 or email her directly.