Planning,    Lodging, Meals, and Fun

Other Things to Do in Ennis Montana

By Eric Shores 1/26/2016 5 minutes

Even in Montana, man or woman cannot live on fly fishing alone. Sometimes you need to take the day off and just “smell the roses” (or the pine trees, depending on where you find yourself). When you need to take a break from catching all those rainbows on the Madison, I think the first stop to pencil in on the map is Virginia City, located about 15 miles west of Ennis, Montana.

Virginia City, and Nevada City its close neighbor, was the creation of Ford Bovey, a collector of the old west. He spent a large part of his lifetime collecting pieces of history from the area. Now both Virginia City and Nevada City are maintained by the state.  

Nevada City is an actual ghost town with all the shops and businesses intact. You'll find products from the 1800’s on the shelves, old buggies, old wagons - tons of great memorabilia. The whole town is a museum, very interesting good fun and educational.  

Virginia City also has some great night entertainment. The Virginia City Players are an acting troop that have been around almost as long as Virginia City itself.  They do nightly shows of old period plays followed by a series of variety acts. All good family entertainment.  

The other choice is the Brewery Follies, a live show in the old brewery, where you sit at tables. Adult beverages are served, and it is a show that is more appropriate for adults. Comedy is a little “blue” but hilarious.

Read More Where to Eat in Ennis Montana

Horseback Rides and Hiking Trails

Another thing I like to do when not matching wits with the local fish populations is to take a ride up in the cool mountains on Horseback. There are several outfitters in the area that do everything from day rides to week long elk hunts in the fall. There are even some angling opportunities via horseback. A few good outfitters choices for the area are Todd France, Tim Beardsley and Wolfpack Outfitters.

As far as hiking goes, there are about 20 different trailheads within 15 miles of Ennis, most of which are hardly used except during the hunting season. We have great streams to hike up and some pristine high mountain lakes - a little something for everyone. More on where and how later.

Just Go Driving 

Montana is a beautiful place to hit the open road. One gem is Gravelly Range road. This is a  great drive up through the Gravelly Mountains. You can make a loop starting at the MacAttee Bridge fishing access and coming back out either on the other side into the Ruby valley or out at west fork 20 miles upstream. A drive through the Gravelly Range is stunning in the spring, when the flowers are out. Miles upon miles of color during June or early July. Plus, you might want to wet a line in the Ruby on the way home.

Read More Top Hidden Fly Fishing Locations Near Ennis Montana

This is certainly  just a partial list of things to do when you're not fly fishing in Ennis Montana. You are limited only by your imagination. Go out and explore. Have fun! 

Let us know in the comments what other things you like to do in and around Ennis.

This is a small town with a big heart, a veritable fisherman’s paradise. Located near the fish-filled Madison River, and surrounded by the waters of Ennis Lake, the Ruby River, Hebgen ... moreLake, Quake Lake, Henry’s Lake, the Big Hole River and scores of smaller streams, the town boasts what many consider the best trout fishing in the world. As well known for its wranglers as its anglers, Ennis has succeeded in maintaining the look and feel of its original, gold town roots. Warm and hospitable, the area offers a wide variety of accommodations ranging from simple campsites, rustic motels and gracious hotels, to full-service, luxury resorts. Fly shops are numerous, stocked by local experts ready to advise and assist, while guides can be booked for trips throughout the area.

Boredom is the only thing unavailable in Ennis. Throughout the summer season the city hosts a series of events, including its renowned 4th of July Celebration Parade and a genuine, old-fashioned rodeo. In August, fly-fishing luminaries from around the US, flock to Montana to compete in the Madison Fly Fishing Festival. Athletes also find their way to Ennis to compete in the city’s Madison Trifecta, two shorter races followed by a full Marathon at 9000 feet, the highest elevation run in America. For the true sportsman, October falls in with the annual Hunter’s Feed. What’s caught, typically elk, moose deer, pheasant and bobcat, gets cooked on the streets and served up to hungry spectators.

Flanked by three grand mountain ranges, The Tobacco Root, Gravelly and Madison, Ennis is scenic and entertaining – truly an authentic, fly fisher’s haven.
Fishing Waters
The Madison River is arguably one of the best trout fishing rivers in all of southwest Montana, if not the entire world! It’s certainly the most talked over, written up and frequented ... morein the state of Montana – which is considered by some the capital of fly fishing. Anglers will find plenty of great access sites to wade or float along the Madison’s banks and reservoirs (including Hebgen Lake and Ennis Lake). Rainbows, browns, cutthroats, and more abound in this majestic fishing stream.

The Madison begins its course almost twenty miles into Yellowstone National Park. Within the Park, fishing rules apply: no live bait and catch and release only. Once outside the Park the river meanders past working ranches, stately conifer forests and cottonwood lined banks, interrupted by riffles and quiet runs that contain large rainbow and trophy brown trout. Flowing alongside Yellowstone’s West entrance road, the river enters Hebgen Lake, created by Hebgen dam, until it reaches Quake Lake, a bit downstream from the dam. At this point the river is commonly called either the Upper Madison or the Lower Madison, although in fact, they are one and the same.

Upper Madison – Quake Lake to Ennis Lake
Directly below Quake Lake the river roars into 5 long miles of Class V whitewater with steep gradients and large boulders along the way. As the rapids decline, the magic begins. For the next 53 miles, often referred to as the 50 Mile Riffle, the cold river runs north and the fish jump high. Annual runs of spawning trout make their way from Hebgen Lake, rainbows in the spring and browns in the fall. Known the world over for its “hard fighting” trout, it’s not unusual to pull a 25” brown from these upper waters. In deference to the purists and fly-fishing enthusiasts, it’s wading only from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge. Boats may be used to access the river, but if you’re going to fish, your feet must be on the riverbed. Fortunately, the Hebgen Dam releases water throughout the year, leveling its flows and relieving it of spring runoff issues and summer shrinkage.

Lower Madison – Ennis Lakes to Three Forks
A short section of the river between Ennis Dam and the power station maintains relatively low water levels and provides wonderful opportunities for wading. Past the power station the river regains its muscle and for 7 miles winds through Bear Trap Canyon. Hiking trails offer the only entry, great for those that like to walk and seek the solitude of a designated wilderness area. Floating is permitted but requires a lengthy shuttle and the ability to work through Class III-IV whitewater. Once out of the canyon the river flows in shallow riffles until it reaches Three Forks and joins the Missouri. From Warm Springs to Greycliff, the river is easily accessible for drifters and wading.
/ Boat
1 - 2 anglers
1 day
The Upper Madison begins its journey in Yellowstone Park. Soon after leaving the park boundaries into Montana, Hebgen Dam creates the first of three reservoirs on the Madison River. ... moreA few miles downstream another reservoir was created in 1959 by an earthquake and resulting landslide. This body of water is known as, “Earthquake Lake”. From here the Upper Madison flows through the Madison Valley, past the town of Ennis and into Ennis Lake. The Lake being the, “divider” between the Upper and Lower river. Known as the, “50 mile riffle” the Upper Madison provides great structure and trout habitat wherever you look. Healthy populations of Brown and Rainbow trout, as well as, a huge variety of hatches and methods to fish them, make this river a favorite for many of our guests.
/ Angler
2 anglers
2 days
Join us for three nights and two days of fishing on the famous Madison River in Ennis, Montana. Fly fish the Madison River for huge browns and rainbows. Spend three nights in a double ... moreroom at the Rainbow Valley Lodge in Ennis, Montana. While there, enjoy a free continental breakfast daily. Meet your guide from Riverborn Outfitters at the O’Dell Creek Fly Shop located in the lodge and then off to the river!

Spend the day fishing for huge rainbows and big browns on the famous Madison River, a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream. With more than 3000 fish per mile, the Madison River offers challenging and fun fishing for novice to seasoned angler.
/ Boat
1 - 2 anglers
4 hours - 1 day
Spend the day fishing for huge rainbows and big browns on the famous Madison River, a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream. With more than 2000 fish per mile, the Madison River offers challenging ... moreand fun fishing for novice to seasoned angler.
Montana Fishing Adventures is based in Livingston Mt. We provide trips that accommodate all people who want to have fun on the water. Whether it's your frist time or it's what you ... moredo. We can handle all of your needs. From large corporate groups, families, wedding partys, to single anglers.


Eric Shores

Eric Shores has been guiding clients on Montana Rivers for over 32 years. He's as wily as any old brown trout when it comes to getting his clients on to fish and his stories will entertain you along the way. Many of our clients have become life long friends after a memorable day on the water with Eric.


Discover Your Own Fishing and Hunting Adventures

With top destinations, guided trips, outfitters and guides, and river reports, you have everything you need.