What's a typical day at the Madison Valley Ranch?
Most guests start their day with a cup of coffee on the porch followed by a wonderful buffet-style breakfast in the main lodge building. Fishing guides will typically arrive towards to end of breakfast, but there is never a rush to get out the door here in SW Montana. Guests will usually return to their rooms to get ready for the day before heading out with their guide. Expect to return to the lodge between 3:00-6:00 P.M. as dinner is served around 7:00 P.M. in the Main Lodge. It stays light until 10:00 P.M. in the summer and many guests will head out to the pond or wade the Channels for a couple of hours of evening dry-fly fishing before bed.
I have never fly-fished before. Is that a problem?
Absolutely not. We host many beginners each year. Our guides are experienced, patient, and specialize in teaching beginners. No one should be afraid to give fly fishing a shot!
On what rivers do you typically fish?
The upper Madison River is literally in our backyard. It is a spectacular river that offers amazing views and blue-ribbon trout fishing. We're pretty partial to floating the upper Madison, but our guides are very experienced on the lower Madison River, Beaverhead River, Big Hole River, Jefferson River, Gallatin River, and Yellowstone River 'all within a 1.5-hour drive from the Ranch.
What about gear, what do I need?
Upon booking your stay at the Madison Valley Ranch we will promptly send you an equipment list, map, and confirmation. A 5- or 6- wt. rod, reel, and line is ideal, along with leader/tippet in the 2X-5X range. Waders and felt or rubber soled boots are needed during the spring and fall. They are not usually necessary though from June-September. A hat, polarized sunglasses, and a waterproof jacket will come in handy as well. Bring some flies, but also know that we have a fully-stocked fly shop for you. If you prefer to pack light, we have all the equipment you need for a successful day on the water.
What is the best time of the year fish the Madison River?
This is a tough question to answer. Not December, January or February though! If you are willing to put up with colder weather and have the river mostly to yourself, then April is the best month for that. If you want to experience the best weather and best dry-fly fishing then June-September is ideal. If you want to target a big brown trout, September-November.
My partner does not fish, what can they do while I fish?
There are many options. Several of our guests travel with non-angling partners and we often suggest they ride along in the boat for at least one day or a portion of a day. It's a great way to relax, see wildlife and spend a nice day outside. Other options include scheduling a horseback ride, spending the day in Virginia City (a must see mining ghost town only 14 miles away), visiting Bozeman, Big Sky, or Yellowstone National Park (only 72 miles away). Or you might opt to take a bike ride, walk along the river or relax, read and rest at the Madison Valley Ranch. The cowboy town of Ennis with it's shops and art galleries is also a great place to spend the day. You certainly do not have to be a fisherman/woman to enjoy Madison Valley Ranch!
What is the best airport to fly into?
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) in Bozeman, Montana is the closest airport with a 50 mile drive from MVR. Most guests fly into BZN. Bert Mooney Airport (BTM) in Butte, Montana is another option. It's about a 1.5 hour drive from Ennis, but occasionally the fares are better than BZN. Yellowstone Airport (WYS) in West Yellowstone, Montana is only open in the summer, but might be a good option if you are planning to stay near the park for a portion of your trip. Lastly, you can fly right into the Ennis Airport if you're flying in on a private jet.
Like going over to your best friend's backyard, the staff at the Madison Valley Ranch sincerely welcomes you to feel at home, sit back, relax, and take advantage of all that this pristine property and SW Montana have to offer.
Enjoy your time at the Ranch where trout tales and camaraderie abound'not to mention great food. A gourmet four-course dinner with appetizers and drinks may tempt you away from your own relaxing and spectacular porch views. Enjoy marvelous mountain sunsets, sandhill cranes in their mating dance, the moose wandering by, or an eagle or osprey diving into the pond to catch dinner.
Meandering trails lead you from the Ranch down to the river for a bird watching stroll, an invigorating run or you may like to borrow one of our mountain bikes and head out for a ride. Afterwards, you can soak in our Hot Springs hot tub as you take in the Big Sky and backdrop of the three mountain ranges framing the Madison Valley.
After dinner hit the hatch for our private Jurassic Pond rainbows. Test your skill on Jack Creek or even sneak down the path for more wild trout in our backyard Channels of the Madison River. We suspect you'll find yourself not wanting to leave!
Located in the heart of SW Montana, the Madison Valley Ranch offers anglers unparalleled access to wild trout on renowned blue-ribbon rivers, but that's not all'there are plenty of outdoor activities and attractions to fulfill everyone's desires!
Yellowstone National Park
Only 72 miles from the Madison Valley Ranch, Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 as America's first National Park. Exploring this national treasure is an excellent sightseeing activity. Experience Old Faithful, the most popular geyser in the world, or view the colorful Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. View bears and wolves, elk, and buffalo in the Lamar and Hayden Valleys. Learn about the history of national parks and the National Park Service. Many of our guests opt to take a day off from fishing to take a scenic drive into the park. We would also be happy to set up a guided tour for you.
Leave the fly rod at home and head out on float down the Madison River for whatever your heart desires! Bird watching, photography, wildlife viewing, booze cruise, or just plain ol' sunbathing are all fair game!
Virginia City and Nevada City
These famous historical mining ghost towns are only 15 miles from the Madison Valley Ranch, and are definitely worth exploring. The drive over the hill into the Ruby Valley offers stunning views of the Madison Valley. Virginia City sits high in the Rocky Mountains in a bowl along Alder Gulch, where gold was first discovered in 1863. Within a year the town grew to over 10,000 and became the Territorial Capital in 1865. Today Virginia City, Montana's main street, provides an exceptional example of commercial architecture from the late 1800s. Many of the original structures are filled with genuine artifacts. This is cultural tourism at its best and self-guided tours are available.
Lewis and Clark Caverns
Montana's first and best-known state park showcases one of the most highly decorated limestone caverns in the Northwest. Naturally air-conditioned, these spectacular caves, lined with stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and helictites, date back through time. See geologic development in conjunction with the history of early exploration and gain a unique insight into the delicate ecology of this world without light. Plan to spend a minimum of two hours to hike two miles on a guided tour through the caverns. The park also provides hiking trails, a visitor center, an amphitheater, and several picnic areas. Tours run every 15 minutes from May-September and no reservations are needed.
Shopping and Touring
Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Big Sky, and Ennis all have many fine shops, galleries and restaurants. Be sure to ask about specifics when you arrive and we'll chart out a day of shopping.