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In 1905 the Montana Power Company built a dam on the Madison River, creating Ennis Lake. The two and a half mile long lake stretches across Montana's Gold West Country in some of the state's best fly fishing territory. Its proximity to Yellowstone National Park makes it an exceptional home base for a south western Montana getaway.
Ennis Lake, originally known to locals as Meadow Lake, was formed by Madison Dam to generate hydroelectric power, and the 257 foot long, 35 foot tall dam still generates power today. It is considered a "run of river" project because the dam can generate power from the force of the river alone without the need to store water for power generation. The Madison River exits the reservoir at the head of Bear Trap Canyon, creating a wild set of rapids popular with white water rafters and paddlers.
The Madison River runs approximately 183 miles from Wyoming into Montana, and the 50 mile section above Ennis Lake offers the best fly fishing on the entire river. Ennis Lake itself is full of brown trout and rainbow trout, and with 1,920 surface acres of water, there is more than enough room for anglers and boaters. Boats, canoes, kayaks and sailboats can all be seen gliding across the surface of the clean, clear water.
The lake is relatively shallow with a maximum depth of 20 feet and an average depth of eight feet. As a result, during summer months the water temperature can reach 80 degrees, negatively impacting the fishing but making it a great lake for swimming and water sports including windsurfing. In the winter the shallow depth ensures the lake freezes, and kayaks are replaced with ice skates. Ice fishing is also a popular winter pastime at Ennis Lake.
Ennis Lake is surrounded by private property with cottages and vacation rentals available. There is real estate for sale on the lake as well as in nearby Ennis. The town of Ennis is a few miles southwest of the lake and has any amenities a visitor might need. Sitting in the shadow of the Madison mountain range, Ennis is a charming western town with shops and restaurants to complement its ranching history. Both the town of Ennis and Ennis Lake are in Madison County.
Ennis Lake sits northwest of Yellowstone National Park. It is less than an hour from the lake to the national park, making it a fantastic day trip or a great home base for an extended exploration of one of America's most popular parks. Established in 1827, Yellowstone National Park is the nation's first national park. Yellowstone is home to a variety of wildlife, including grizzly bear, bison, elk and the wolves that were reintroduced to the park in 1996. Hiking trails at a variety of skill levels let anyone enjoy Yellowstone's scenery and wildlife. The park is also known for Old Faithful, one of the geysers that erupts regularly in the park. Mud pots and thermal springs dot the landscape of the park, making Yellowstone a truly unique destination.
Close to the wonders of Yellowstone and some of Montana's best fly fishing, Ennis Lake is a spectacular Gold West Country destination. Its clean, warm waters are sure to become a family favorite.
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