Where is your summer "home away from home"? I'm a big fan of my front yard but 'Uncle Gordon's' place south of Cameron in the Madison Valley is by far my absolute, hands down favorite place in Montana.

Before we moved to Bozeman permanently, my parents and I spent every single summer on the Madison River. We'd leave the day after I got out of school and not return for two months.

Dakota Roos via Unsplash
Dakota Roos via Unsplash

Although there were frequent trips to town, we never stayed in (or even near) Ennis. Our time was spent south of Lyons Bridge near Papoose Creek, or further south.

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Back in the day there was NOTHING to do but fish everyday. And that was the point. More than once I've nearly drowned at the fishing area where 287 meets 87. A seven year old isn't much competition for a heavy flowing Madison.

Anyway, for several years we stayed with family friends for the summer...that was Uncle Gordon's ranch: Willow Springs Outfitters. Eventually my folks bought our own place, but Uncle Gordon's ranch was where I learned to do everything. Ride horses. Cast a fly rod. Shoot guns. Drive a car. Ride an ATV. Discover what salmon flies are.

To this day, spending the night there brings me back to some of the best times of my life. (Being a carefree young person on summer vacation is hard to beat, right?)


My favorite place is obviously memory-related, but it's always interesting to hear other people's stories behind their fave places. A certain fishing hole, a particular lake to water ski, a venue for music, Yellowstone for the scenery and wildlife...one of my friends' all-time favorite places was the M&M in Butte because that's where she met her husband of 30 years.

For me, the southern Madison Valley is my most cherished spot in Montana. There are many others that instantly bring me joy but the Madison River has my heart.

So lemme have it. Where is YOUR favorite place in Montana?

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