Montana’s history-steeped Gold West Country, located smack dab in the middle of Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, delights 5 year-olds and 95 year-olds alike that have a hankering for the REAL Wild West. Virginia and Nevada Cities pushed “pause” amid the mining boom at the turn of the century, and a visit to these sagebrush-strewn hills hibernating beneath wispy peaks is a discovery of yesteryear. Take in the hilarious Brewery Follies or a stagecoach tour complete with outlaw gossip and tales of notorious former residents.
Another nearby ghost town that was formerly a raucous mining community is Bannack State Park (Montana Territory’s first capital city). Now abandoned, the once booming mining town offers a glimpse into the harsh lifestyle yet high rewards of the life of a miner. Celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2012, the ghost town is resuscitated back to life during the third week of July for the annual Bannack Days festivities.
Is a little luxury is on your holiday agenda? Several Gold West Country properties are bursting with 1000 thread-count sheets...and trout. The Ranch at Rock Creek not only offers luxury dining and lodging on the banks of the blue ribbon Rock Creek, it also boasts a full-service spa. The Ranch at Rock Creek extends its rustic opulence to children as well…and gives mom and dad a chance to enjoy the spa, horseback riding, and fly-fishing or nearby Jack Nicklaus-designed Old Works Golf Course without having to keep tabs on little Jimmy. The ranch offers children’s programs all day to keep your tyke occupied making their own ice cream, painting cowboy hats, horseback riding, hiking and swimming (to name just a few).
The North Fork Crossing Lodge on the famed Blackfoot River offers extravagantly appointed tents right on the banks of fabled trout water. And don’t worry about cooking up a feast for your brood; trained culinary chefs spearhead the gourmet dining at the Lodge. Day trips into Glacier are an easy drive from the Lodge. Spend all day casting along the very river Norman Maclean waded in the pages of A River Runs Through It.
If your family is looking for more of a car-camping adventure, the campgrounds on the eastern shores of the picturesque Holter Lake and the stunning Gates of the Mountains named by Lewis and Clark during their historic journey along the Missouri River are excellent out-of-the-way finds. The fishing, waterskiing and hiking options in the area abound.
Natural hot springs checker Southwest Montana’s Gold West Country, with its close proximity in between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. What a better way to end a trip to Yellowstone’s geothermal geysers or Glacier’s famed Going-to-the-Sun Road than a soak in one of our many natural hot springs.
Norris Hot Springs is a true eco-travel gem, complete with weekly bluegrass bands and bison burgers from a local buffalo rancher. Norris’ eclectic waters are a favorite among the outdoor and nature-loving locals in the area. The town of Norris is located just a few short miles from the Madison River with its wealth of fly-fishing and hiking opportunities in the Madison mountain range (the Sphinx is a favorite among locals).
We hope to see you under the big sky soon. For more information about Gold West Country, please visit: www.goldwest.visitmt.com.