Madison River Valley in Montana

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Madison River Valley

When driving from West Yellowstone to Bozeman, you can choose between two scenic roads: either straight north through Big Sky or northwest through Madison River Valley. This valley is a dream come true for anglers and other attractions include rafting, a ghost town, and hot springs. Read More

Why should I drive through the Madison River Valley?

Fishing: Anglers flock to this remote valley for the sole purpose of fishing. The 50-mile riffle between Quake Lake and Ennis Lake is perfect for drift boats and wading. Access points are scattered along the road.

Whitewater Rafting: Below Ennis Lake, the Madison River drops into Bear Trap Canyon known for its thrilling rapids and scenic beauty. You can join a rafting trip through this section of water.

Norris Hot Springs: Located northeast of the very small town of Norris, these hot springs are a must-do. Live music takes place weekly during the summer months. The natural setting and smooth wood bottom tub are ideal.

Virginia City: A side trip down MT 287 just south of Ennis leads to this historic ghost town.

Lewis and Clark Caverns: Drive the long way to Bozeman through Three Forks and stop by this unique underground attraction.

Where does the Madison River Valley begin and end?

The Madison River Valley technically begins just after it leaves Quake Lake. It flows over sharp rapids (newer rock from the 1959 landslide) until it mellows out to what many refer to as the 50 mile riffle to Ennis Lake. After Ennis Lake, the road leaves the Madison as the river drops into Bear Trap Canyon. The road meets up with it again shortly just after the Norris junction. You can continue to follow the river along small river-access roads all the way to Three Forks, the town that marks the confluence of the Madison, Gallatin, and Jefferson to form the Missouri. Or you can drive the primary route northeast toward Bozeman.

How long does it take to drive?

The drive from Quake Lake to Bozeman follows US 287 the entire way and takes just under 2 hours. If you plan to fish or stop along the way, you might want to plan for a half day trip.

Other Madison River Valley Resources

Swan Valley

Pretty valley along the Snake River in eastern Idaho.