Sunday, September 19, 2021
We head out of West Yellowstone under a wintery mix of rain and snow. Snow is predicted at 6500 feet. It’s getting to be that time of year! We are once again taking the road less traveled as we head to Butte, Montana. It should be an interesting leg of the trip!
Our route follows the Madison River for quite some time. Tall mountains on either side of the valley a capped with snow. At a rest stop we watch fisherman float by in their fishing boats.
Ennis (849 souls) is considered both a blue ribbon fly fishing destination and an authentic cowboy town rolled into one and the art that comes from the area’s artists is entirely unique to the region. As one publication put it, “Ennis is a drinking town with a fishing problem!
From Ennis we head up the mountain to Virginia City (190 souls), born with the discovery of gold in 1863. The town served as the Montana Territorial Capital for ten years until the territorial capital moved to Helena in 1875.
In 1961 the town and surrounding area were designated a National Historic Landmark District. A mile down the road is Nevada City, a western town created from a collection of other ghost towns. Both towns have been largely restored and preserved having become living examples of the real Old West.
We drop down into the Ruby River Valley. This is cowboy country! Sheridan (642 souls) sits on the banks of the Ruby River, in the heart of the Ruby River Valley. Seven mountain ranges surround the Ruby River Valley: the Tobacco Root, the Highlands, the McCartney, the Pioneer, the Ruby, the Gravely, and the Snowcrest Mountains. If there was ever a cowboy town Sheridan is it! It’s Sunday and the sidewalks will remain rolled up until noon. The combined grocery and hardware store is open yet the restaurants don’t open until noon. Very few inhabitants are downtown and those that are look like they just rode in from the range on their horse. We love this place for its old west flavor.
Twin Bridges (375 souls) is where the Beaverhead, Big Hole, Ruby and Jefferson rivers meet. The town is home to the world famous R.L. Winston Fly Rod Company. These premier rods range in price from $500 to over $1000 per rod. Or how about a split bamboo rod for a mere $3500? Buy one of those rods and the locals will show you some world class trout fishing!
The road leaves the Ruby Valley and heads into the mountains southeast of Butte. The drive is very pretty but the road gets a little treacherous in places so we take it slow and steady. We follow a canyon down to the flats and on to our destination, Butte. We’ll be staying at the Butte KOA for three nights in order to explore this town of 33,000 souls.