Ennis, Montana, makes for a convenient stop on the way to just about any place you could want to check out in southwest Montana. Self-proclaimed as “an hour from anywhere,” Ennis is just a quick jaunt from Norris, Virginia City, Yellowstone and Three Forks. This is the place to slow down for a minute and get immersed.
While Virginia City may seem like the obvious history stop, Ennis offers up a different look into the past. With a year-round population that doesn’t even top 1,000, this small town takes you back to the days when you really could know everyone in town, and waving hello to passersby on the two-block Main Street is second nature.
You can get away with a quick stop on the way to somewhere else, but it pays to pause and dive into Ennis for the full day. You’ll find plenty to keep you occupied.
Get Eyes On Wildlife
The Madison-Wall Creek Wildlife Management Area makes a great stop to help check some quadrupeds off your Montana bucket list. Hear elk bugle as fall turns to winter, with opportunities to spot black bears and antelope from spring through the fall. Even though this area is closed to recreation in the winter, you can still spot wildlife from Highway 287. Morning is the perfect time to head here after a coffee delivered to you in bed at the Sacajawea. You don’t have to be an early riser, but most of these critters are, so it pays to get moving early.
Put Paddles On The Lake
Ennis Lake is a world-class fishing destination, but you don’t have to know how to cast to appreciate it. Grab some kayaks or a SUP and take to the lake if you can catch a warm fall day. Or bring a picnic brunch so you can snuggle and snack on the banks to spot some birds and check for fish jumping.
Shop It Up
Main Street shopping in Ennis gives an old timey western vibe to souvenir hunting in “downtown” Ennis. These two blocks of quaint small-town charm will draw you into a warm embrace of Made in Montana goodness. This is the place to check out local outfitters for anything and everything outdoors, with a sprinkling of galleries and other shops added in for good measure.
Sink Your Teeth In
The food in Ennis is what makes this town the perfect stop. Find surprising variety from a town this size, with greasy goodness that’s worth the mouthwatering thoughts you can’t help but hold onto after you leave, found at Ennis Sugar High. Burgers and all things fried are the name of the game, and they play to win. Good news too, these guys stay open on weekends well into autumn, and doors open again for the season in early spring. If you want to spice things up, Nacho Mama’s brings that zinging flavor. This family-run joint feels like home. Check their Facebook page for updates, since it’s not uncommon for someone to be out sick or on vacation—or for a surprise special to get whipped up at the last minute. Grab a cocktail at Willie’s Distillery, and cruise back to Three Forks for a last nightcap at the Sac Bar before you turn in for the night.
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