After enjoying a couple of days of civilization in Bozeman, Montana and catching up with some old friends, we were feeling like there was so much to do in the area and we were leaving too quickly! Taking a tip or two from a good friend we buzzed over to Norris, MT where a place called Norris Hot Springs is located. (https://norrishotsprings.com/) After getting a lay of the land, talking to some interesting people, and finding out about things to do in the area we decided to stay for a couple of days.
The springs themselves come from an artesian well, a deep underground source of water that is constantly flowing through a crack in the surface of the earth, whether a well is dug or not. This particular spring happened to be a nice 120 degrees F, perfect to create a hot springs for weary hikers like us! The pool where the spring water comes through is a big wood plank wading pool, and there is a cold water sprayer that brings the pool down to closer to 100 degrees. The owners have a good sized vegetable garden on site, and help supply the kitchen with great food! Fresh kale and collards paired with brats, burgers, or other dishes from local bison, cattle, or lamb. The combination of the beautiful sky, the hot water, and the fermented water 😉 with the wonderful food and company made for an awesome little experience.
We met some interesting people too! The neighbor at our campsite was a very friendly dude from Teton Valley, Idaho. We chatted about all things from local politics to wildfires to good fishing water to dog ownership. A jack of many trades, Tom is a retired business owner, fly fisherman, potter, and artist. He showed us some of his beautiful and fun pieces, namely Raku pottery inspired by fishing (maybe one day we will own one!). We miss you already Tom! https://tombivins.com/
He also tipped us off about the neighboring town of Ennis, which claims itself to be the fly fishing capital of the country. They also happened to be having a small fly fishing festival, so we headed over to check it out. Ennis has the vibe of a small country western town with a fishing/adventure tilt. Ennis lies just off of the hallowed Madison river with other great fishing rivers nearby such as the Gallatin and Beaverhead. While it killed me inside a little bit to not actually go fishing here (there wasn’t room for my fly rod and all my fishing gear in our already crammed hatchback), it was fun to be surrounded by fly fishing nuts of all kinds. The festival had lots of cool vendors, casting demos, speakers, short documentaries, artists, and other conservation organizations. After schmoozing a few locals, we walked through main street and enjoyed a cocktail from a local distillery with a peppy little country western trio playing inside.
We are both definitely glad we’ve made time literally and mentally for these unplanned impromptu stops. They are usually the ones give us a sense of what the local area is really about away from the main tourist fray.