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Most men naturally love the outdoors and especially the wild, rugged country of Montana. Many of their women come along as good sports, not expecting to find much here for them or their kids to do. They expect to be fishing or hunting widows. However, there are many things to do in Ennis and the Madison Valley that women can enjoy.

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SHOPPING: In downtown Ennis you will find many charming little boutiques, art galleries, jewelry, unique clothing, antiques and thrift stores plus unique “collectibles” shops. And for more serious shopping, Bozeman is just an hour away (with no traffic and beautiful scenery along the way). There you will find a Costco, a Walmart, a mall and numerous unique boutiques.

READING & RESEARCH: Ennis has a brand new library full of books and information and resources. Our Chamber of Commerce has an abundance of brochures, maps and information on the area and surrounding areas. The Ranger Station has maps and information on hiking trails and roads through the National Forest lands surrounding the valley.

Virginia City
Virginia City
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EXPLORING HISTORY: Go exploring in Virginia City and Nevada City, just 14 miles west up in the mountains. They are the best preserved old western towns in the country. They are full of amazing things to see and do. Visit the Madison Valley History Museum. Bozeman is home to the Museum of the Rockies where the kids can see dinosaurs and other historic relics from the pioneers. You’ll see plentiful wildlife and wild flowers.

Fishing the Madison
Fishing the Madison

FLY FISHING: You could surprise him and take a private fly fishing lesson from an experienced guide, then go with him the next time out and catch the biggest fish! They say that women make the best fly fishermen because it really takes finesse. Fly fishing with a professional guide who ties your flies, untangles your line and helps you be successful is what I call princess fishing. (Plus, feeds you lunch!) It’s the only way to go for beginners. (Would you let your husband teach you how to drive or play golf?)

HORSEBACK RIDING: There are some great local outfitters who will take you out for half a day or full day of trail riding (with lunch) in the back country where you will see the quiet beauty of the surrounding mountains.

Gravelly Range
Gravelly Range
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HIKING: Stop in at the Ranger Station for maps of the National Forest lands showing the hiking trails. Hike in the Beaverhead National Forest, starting at Bear Creek, Jack Creek, Wall Creek, Papoose Creek, Standard Creek, and more... The Montana Wilderness Association sponsors Wilderness Walks in this valley as well as all over Montana. Contact the Madison -Gallatin Chapter for information on current events.

PICNICING: Pack a lunch and head for Ennis Lake, Hebgen Lake, Cliff & Wade Lakes, Harrison Lake or Sure Shot Lake. The market and several local restaurants offer food to go.

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RAFTING: If you want a thrill, take one of the great rafting trips on the Beartrap Canyon, the lower Madison or the Gallatin River.

Madison Meadows Golf Course
Madison Meadows Golf Course

GOLFING: Ennis has a very challenging 9-hole golf course overlooking Ennis and the valley. Just play twice to get your 18 holes in. At Madison Meadows you just pay $20 for 9 holes or $30 for 18 holes! The local golf pro is happy to give private lessons if you’re a little rusty.

Ennis Shop
Ennis Shop

PRINCESS STUFF: You may feel that you deserve to pamper yourself while the men are out doing their thing. You can find numerous massage therapists, estheticians and beauty salons. Have a facial, pedicure, manicure, a massage and a haircut! Then go buy a new outfit. You deserve it!

FITNESS: Not only is there a gym for your total workout, but you can also take Pilates and yoga classes from certified instructors.

Wells Fargo in Virginia City
Wells Fargo in Virginia City
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EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY: Then when the men return, tell them you’ve made a reservation at one of the fine restaurants in town. You could stop in at one of the colorful western saloons for a drink with the local cowboys or take a picnic to the Lion’s Club Park down by the river.

NIGHT LIFE ENTERTAINMENT: You can take in a movie at our historic theater, showing current releases, sip a few at one of the local watering holes, or head up to Virginia City for the Virginia City Players vintage stage show or the Brewery Follies, a bawdy vaudeville show.

Ennis Lions Park
Ennis Lions Park


  1. The Lions Club Park has great walking trails down by the Madison River, swings and playground equipment, picnic tables, restrooms and a ball field. It’s a great place to take the kids for an outing.
  2. The Madison Valley Library has story hour for kids.
  3. The Madison Valley History Museum displays Madison Valley history and artifacts plus examples of all the local critters, including the Beast (Guynsticutus).
  4. # 12 Steam Engine
    # 12 Steam Engine
  5. Take the kids for a ride on the antique train that runs between Virginia City and Nevada City and pan for gold in the nearby sites.
  6. Explore Lewis & Clark Caverns
  7. Stop by the Quake Lake Visitor’s Center and see photos and stunning reminders of the big earthquake in 1959.
  8. Ennis Lake has a beach on the north shore with shallow waters for wading and swimming.
  9. Take them for a soak at the Water of the Gods at Norris Hotsprings - a real treat for the whole family.
  10. Plan a day or two at Yellowstone National Park.

JUST FOR THE DOGS: If you bring your dogs along, there could be times when you’ll want to leave them while you go have fun. There are two veterinary boarding kennels in the valley where they will be safe and sound.


BASIC NEEDS: If you have any concerns about this small town having what you need - not to worry. We have just about everything one needs. In addition to great fun shopping, you’ll find a full service pharmacy, medical clinic, hospital, hardware store, grocery store, old fashioned butcher shop and gas stations.

FRIENDS: The Madison Valley is full of interesting people from all over the world. Since they are relatively new here themselves, they welcome other newcomers, as do most of the local natives as well. Most everyone comments on the friendliness of the people here, from the shop keeper who remembers your name to the neighbor who plows you out in the winter. This is a very social community it seems there is always something going on. The residents will open their arms to welcome you.

GET INVOLVED: Women who move here full time, or even part time, find themselves embraced by the community and involved in one or more of the many volunteer organizations:

  1. The Madison Valley Woman’s Club (a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs)
  2. Lion’s Club
  3. Book clubs
  4. Quilting Guild
  5. Garden Club

  6. Ennis Arts Association
  7. Big Brothers Big Sisters
  8. Ennis Mustangs Booster Club
  9. Ennis Rodeo
  10. Madison County Economic Development Council
  11. Several church organizations
  12. Friends of the Library
  13. Farmers Market (Farm to Fork)
  14. Madison County Volunteer Hospice
  15. Madison Valley Ranchlands Group
  16. Madison Valley Hospital volunteers
  17. - plus more. There is so much to do, it’s hard to choose.

BECOME AN OUTDOORS WOMAN: If the outdoors feels a little foreign to you, but you think you’d like to become more comfortable in this environment, sign up for Wild Woman Camp! It is limited to 100 women in the state and is held in a different location every summer. They teach women “guy” stuff in the outdoors. Their premise is that women are just as capable in the outdoors as men are but that they haven’t had the opportunity to learn. It is called, Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW).

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This great program was started in 1991 and has expanded to most states and several Canadian provinces, with the hope of reducing the barriers that may prevent women from participating in outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting and backpacking. In Montana, it is sponsored by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The fee is approximately $200 which includes 4 classes, meals and lodging.


The workshop offers several sessions, beginning on a Friday afternoon through Sunday noon. The courses relate to natural resources recreation like basic gun handling, rifle, shotgun, fishing, map & compass, outdoor cooking, canoeing, plant identification, outdoor survival and more. Many of the instructors are women and the program is designed to offer hands-on instruction in a relaxed, non-intimidating, camp-like atmosphere. Even if you’ve learned outdoor sports from your dads, husbands or brothers, women like to learn how to do things the “right way.”


I highly recommend this program to all women, especially newcomers to Montana. Not only have I learned some very useful and exciting skills, I have met some of the most interesting, powerful and “totally out there” women at these camps. Many mothers and daughters come to camp together. Active women from 18 to 80 take part in this incredible experience. There is one summer session and one winter session. Call (406) 444-2615 or check them out at

You, too, can become a real Montana Woman!

Local: (406)682-4290       Fax: (406)682-4062       219 E. Main St       PO Box 546       Ennis, Montana 59729
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