Thursday, August 29, 2019

A "Just a Stop On the Way" Turns Into One of Our Top Five!

August 22-25, 2019
Ennis, Montana

It's not the first time. Just picking a location because it happens to be a good number of miles from the last one, and before the next one. Sometimes they're places with nothing more exciting than a quirky main street, or a taqueria with good margaritas. Sometimes we laugh and agree we don't ever need to return. 

Then there are those rare surprises like Ennis, Montana. A place that is now on the list of places we must come back to. A place we could spend several weeks, maybe even a summer.

We arrive at Ennis RV Village in the rain. The storm has followed us for 200 miles, but never strong enough to be an issue for the drive. The park has recently added a new section overlooking the Madison River Valley. Pull-ins for motorhomes, and back-ins for trailers/5ers with the most amazing view. The owners are working hard to make this a great park - we love it already! FHUs with 50 amps, long, level gravel sites with nice green grass space and a picnic table. Very reasonably priced with weekly and monthly rates as well.

Big, stormy Montana skies on I-90

Hwy 287

View from our front yard - wow!
After our rainy night we wake to beautiful puffy clouds in a bright blue sky. A bigger sky. What is it about Montana?

Nearby Ennis Lake is our destination on Friday. It's a small lake on the Madison River. Bill finds a road that takes us into a pretty river canyon. What a perfect day of exploring in this surprising area.

Ennis Lake 

Also Ennis Lake
Old log homestead.

Herd and flock along the lake.
Madison River

The canyon narrows, the water roars.

I love old barns!

A little piece of heaven.

Takes us a few minutes to convince the gang that they should let us pass.

From the canyon we take Saw Log Road to the top of the range.

Madison Valley

A solo antelope buck watches us pass.
In addition to the wonderful RV park and the beautiful river canyon, the little town of Ennis is charming. The people are super friendly and fun. There are seven fly fishing stores in a three block business district :-)

Best of all, we have our own bar and grill!! With great brews and eats. 
The buck is the only wildlife we see except for lots of birds. There is an easily identifiable variety in the valley.

Branch Bird

Water Bird

Fence Bird

Line Birds
When we leave and continue south we'll be taking US 287, so on Saturday we take a drive on MT 287 to the west. Mining history is restored and celebrated in tiny towns along the route. We enjoy the smaller Nevada City, but Virginia City (not unlike the one near Carson City, Nevada) is packed with summer-Saturday crowds. Signs along the road give us the interesting history of the area.

An abandoned stunner in Nevada City.

The office and home of Dr Byam who came here in 1863. He  also served as judge for several years, and his home hosted clandestine meetings of the anti-confederate Union League.

Still serving drinks from the original bar.

Wild Hops help to hold an old cabin together.

The dredged tailings along the road show the permanent damage the gold mining did to the river here. 
More long distance views of Madison Valley.
We spend our evenings outside here. It's just so beautiful - view, temperature, overall feel. This is the first place we've stayed that I never close the front blind. Beautiful and private.

The small pond to the south is full of geese - over 50 at least. As the sun sets they take off in different size flocks - some two, others with 20. They make a lot of noise on take off then silently fly past us. We watch them for over an hour. Magical.

Like the geese, we will return to Ennis, Montana. It's one of our all time favorite places!

Ezra enjoying his cousins' birthday party.


  1. Maybe we could be neighbors? You find a place in Ennis and we'll pop over from the Teton Valley! :) Great photo of the geese!

    1. I think that's a maaaavelous idea!!! Both are so beautiful.

  2. Love the beauty! I also enjoyed the bird population. Best of all love the picture of Ezra❤️

    1. I don't always show off my ornithology brilliance :-))

  3. I agree. Such a beautiful town and area. We needed a longer stay too. So many old. Arbs in that area!

    1. There's a lot to love in Montana, but this little spot sure grabbed us!

  4. Your Jeep and trail guide (Bill) sure know how to find beautiful drives :-) We had telephone lines out our front window as a young kiddo. I remember my dad and I would say school is in session. Ennis sounds like a wonderful stop. Funny how the little places seem to be better than you expect sometimes :-) Did Bill get a chance to do some fishing?

    1. He does find some of the best! Only saw a couple people fishing and no fish where we were able to access the water. Another good reason to go back!

  5. You must have stopped at the Gravel Bar, how was it? We traveled between Hamilton and West Yellowstone, but were sidetracked by the tourist traps of Nevada and Virginia Cities. We drove straight thru Ennis. Bet that would have been the better stop. Great find!

    1. The food and brews at the Gravel Bar are very good, and the staff a lot of fun. Definitely the popular place to stop in town.

  6. Montana undoubtedly has the biggest skies, Jodee! :)

  7. Always fun to discover these hidden gems, looks like you found a great one.

    1. It reminds me not to hesitate to stop somewhere unheard of.

  8. I love Ennis, always have--there is (or used to be?) a great quilt store. Years ago my mom had a summer job cooking for a dude ranch near Ennis. My dad would go with her and do a few outside chores as his health was so poor. The younger generation now runs the dude ranch and the first summer they were open again the daughter begged my mom to come cook for her. Mom and her husband Chuck were spending the summer on that ranch when mom had her major vehicle accident in Yellowstone Park. Mom still keeps in touch with the family. When the Cowboy and I were competitive shooting we went to Ennis once a month to shoot--always fun! And lastly Ennis/Virginia City are spots my group of "girls" like to visit for day trips. I could live there but real estate prices are outrageous! Love your geese photos.

    1. What a wonderful history to have in this wonderful little place! I like it even more now. Yes, the quilt store is still there. Thought of you immediately :-)

  9. Love your bird identification. Bet you had to have some pretty powerful binoculars for those. Ennis sounds like a wonderful find and a place you should seriously consider for the long term with your own bar already. What a darling grandson!

    1. So happy to see your comment!! Think of you all the time, hope you're doing well. Yes, I think having a fun gathering place already named for us is a sign!

  10. How gorgeous! Thanks for adding such a beautiful place to our Montana list of places to visit. And how fun that you have your own bar and grill, LOL. Your photo of the geese is wonderful. Your bird categories certainly simplify the task of identification. :-)
    Ezra is so adorable, always.

  11. We found Ennis this summer and agree that it is a place we would come back to! Doug and Michelle