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Known for centuries as the healing waters of the gods, hot springs are seen around the world as destination locations. Montana hot springs in particular, at least in the U.S, are historically known due to the original inhabitants and later the influx of miners in the region. Used in the wintertime to warm up and bathe, and in the summer to wash clothing and relax, the state is dotted with hidden locations. Some were exploited as tourist attractions, others were made into resorts throughout the years. Today, they are still used as gathering places, destinations of perpetual relaxation, and as perfect party palaces. Some are rugged and others feel like modern resorts. It takes a visit to each to truly find your vibe!
Norris Hot Spring - A Perfect Day Trip from Bozeman Featuring Organic Vibes and Casual Faces
Newly remodeled in the past few years, the 1200 sq ft pool sits on the original springs was built by none other than gold miners. When the gold rush came through Virginia City and Alder Gulch there was a major need for bathing and washing services. The miners were skilled in their craft too, basically engineers of their time, and natural wells were easy to navigate. They laid fir planks across a bubbling spring, accompanied by an opening and closing ball valve, the originals that visitors still walk across today on their visit. There are indeed spots where a foot wrongly placed will lead to a quick jump due to the temperature change, but besides that, the perfect amount of heat is held almost constantly, only mitigated by the cold water showers that are fixed on the pool guests to keep them from overheating.
Organic Food, Local Beer, and Entertainment
With a constant flow of healthy mineral water, the owners of the springs realized they had an opportunity on their hands. Organic food is grown right out of the same water that the locals thrive in, and it is GOOD! While this may be a seller for some, any local would hint at the beer as the best part of the menu. Locally sourced from around the state, there is always a good selection to accompany the organic options and to keep the conversation flowing.
A fully enclosed music stage is also a showcase of the springs. Though the last couple of years put a damper on the fun, there have been a few booked acts recently. We hope to see more back too! Check back regularly on their website and Facebook to see what might be coming up!
IF the beer gets you a little too inebriated, the food puts you in a coma, or the company is just too good, there are also some pretty nice camping spaces within walking distance of the pools, with soaking included of course. Being so close to Bozeman and other surrounding areas, it is fairly common to see these booked quite ahead of time. Check it out if you are headed over in the off-season though, they are usually the perfect spot to pull in and relax.
Check out Ennis, Montana After a Trip to Norris Hotsprings
If you managed to book a camping spot, or were just out for a day trip on your last visit, Ennis is only another 20 miles off the hill. Renowned for its blue ribbon trout fishing and quaint small-town vibe, the area sees quite a bit of tourism in the summer months. A popular stop along the way from Bozeman and West Yellowstone, most like to take a quick drive through town for lunch or dinner drinks at a local watering hole. Often featuring music throughout the handful of main street bars, the place is also well-known for the brewery and the now Montana-Famous Willie’s Liquor.
It was years ago I heard of this now renowned Montana distillery. Stopping in a local bar at 10 am in who-knows-where on the way home from a long weekend, it was just us and our ceasars. The exception was the bartender, speaking with an enthusiastic person with shots in hand, they seemed to be having fun. So were we as we made our way home. Sippy on our Red Beer before heading out, we got offered what was proven at the time (by us) the best coffee and huckleberry cream liqueur the earth could muster! We only got a little taste as they told us about this new distillery that we’d never heard of, but it was to be remembered.
Years later, Willie’s is at the top of the food chain in distillery terms, though it took years to find it again! It turns out they do not only have some especially awesome tastes, but they also use these fancy copper vats made special right out of Germany. Besides creating a social media-worthy backdrop, they do truly produce some fancy liquor. Turns out that best-kept secrets don’t stay secret for long!
Across the way is the infamous Gravel Bar. A must-stop in Ennis, everyone has heard of the Gravel. Good food and a menage of music roll through here, especially in the summer when the fly-fishing guides patrol the stools. Tons of fun to stay for a drink, it's a must-stop when coming through.
Next door is a newly created craft brewery because, if one isn’t located within the last ten miles, the town needs one! (I can say that with sincerity, no joke, love your breweries!) When the Gravel Bar was renovated in recent years they opened up what was once a restaurant area. Order new brews on tap at the Gravel, or step through the connecting doors while waiting on your food for a sip of some specialty brews. The favorite here is not the beer though specifically, but the newly renovated beer garden outside. In the summertime, this is a small paradise right on the main street. We can't wait to see what happens this coming year with that outdoor area!
Art Galleries & Thrifty Antique Stores
Before heading out, it should be noted that Ennis is a local destination for not only good food and liquor, but local art, antiques, and thrift store finds.
With a focus on the area's most treasured past-time, fly fishing, Riverstone is the oldest Gallery in Ennis featuring a variety of famous local artists, Montana scenes, and contemporary wildlife.
Besides local visits, Artists on Main is a group of collaborators bringing events to residents and visitors alike throughout the main seasonal months. Check them out for local markets and events, you won’t be disappointed.
Not to be overlooked, Gallery 287 showcases Montana artists from all over the state in a variety of crafts. Beautiful and one-of-a-kind crafts make their way through here regularly and maybe only found by chance. Visiting during local art events is a great way to get to know the local scene!
Plan Ahead Depending on Time of Year
Ennis is indeed a popular spot to visit year-round with Norris Hot Springs and the local attractions within a short drive of one another, but it does depend on the date you visit for the type of experience you will get. Winters aren’t as busy, but there are still regular music acts and a good crowd going to and from the springs and local music sets.
The summertime is another beast. Montana grows more infamous every year on the internet trade scene, and the incoming visitors are not expected to dwindle. Ennis and Norris are especially vulnerable and have had to limit both camping and soaking during peak season. However, a drive-through ensures there will always be some form of activity and fun worth stopping for. Don’t miss it, stay for a minute and get back to the slower beat just outside the bustling cities before heading home. Relax in the springs and grab a bite and a show, it will be worth the trip.
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