Activities & Recreation
The image of a family journeying miles across the country to see the proverbial "giant ball of string" leads, inevitably, to the ultimate vacation question."What is there to do?" We humbly suggest that you will run out of time before you run out of amazing things to see and do in our part of Montana.
Begin by exploring Yellowstone National Park. El Western is just an hour from this incredible natural wonder. A day visiting the Park's premier features might include Old Faithful and the Old Faithful Inn, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls and walking a short trail along boiling mud pots and steaming crystalline formations. Or, if you prefer, plan a day hike to a remote mountain lake to fish for "Brookies". Whatever you choose, you'll see amazing wildlife everywhere. We recommend taking a picnic lunch with you from Ennis as you travel scenicUS 287 through the Madison Valley to Yellowstone. That way you can choose a spot by a stream or in a meadow for a relaxing break. Go ahead - a little nap is just what you need at this altitude.
A bit closer to home - just 16 miles - is the Historic mining town of Virginia City. For western history buffs, this is a "can't miss" stop. For the rest of us, it is a fascinating reminder of the impact of Gold Rush fever, vigilante justice and the wild west. Walk the boardwalks and peer into windows to the past - literally. Stores were abandonded with stocked shelves and left untouched for more than a century. All summer, Virginia City becomes a slice of living history as craftsmen and blacksmiths ply their trades and the restored steam engine chugs on its journey. Local evening entertainment includes the Illustrious Virginia City Players or the Brewery Follies. Just down the road a piece, you can pan for gold or visit Nevada City and the famous two-story outhouse and nickleodian museum.
Other scenic spots include the Lewis & Clark Caverns, Quake Lake Visitors' Center, Gravelly Range Road Scenic Drive, Wade and Cliff Lakes and the Ennis National Fish Hatchery. Or pass through the Beartrap Canyon on your way to visit Bozeman for their excellent museum and shopping. Stop and take a dip in Norris Hot Springs and unwind to some bluegrass music. Travel to Butte if mining history is your passion.
And if you prefer physical activity, millions of acres of the Beartooth and Beaverhead National Forests provide an enormous outdoor playground. Fishing, of course, but also hiking, horseback riding, golf, whitewater rafting, bird watching, off-road trails and wildlife viewing are all here, waiting.