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Unique Hotels in Southwest Montana Beyond Yellowstone

When planning vacations, choosing your accommodations can be a very important step. As part of my coverage from our trip I’m sharing where to stay in Southwest Montana. My family loved our summer vacation to the big sky country in partnership with Southwest Montana tourism. It’s the perfect spot to plan your next family vacation, especially if you’re looking to visit Glacier and/or Yellowstone National Park.

Where to Stay in Ennis, MT – El Western Cabins

Ennis was where we stayed as our jumping off point for ziplining and horseback riding. It’s located near the Madison River, a great spot for outdoor adventures and fly fishing. You can also take a short trip to the Gallatin River for more outdoor adventures. Big Sky is not too far away, or you can drive just over an hour to reach West Yellowstone.

The El Western Cabins are a small accommodation property that has immaculate groundskeeping. There are a few sleeping options. Our family stayed in one of their mountainside cabins. It can sleep up to 6 and we loved all the space our cabin offered. Made of logs, the cabins made us feel like we really were sleeping in the country. Plus the kitchen is great for families looking to save money on vacation!

My girls loved having a cabin to ourselves, and we enjoyed our evenings sitting on the living room floor playing games. El Western also offers smaller creekside cabins that sleep up to 4, and lodges that can sleep up to 12.

Where to Stay in Virginia City & Nevada City, MT – The Nevada Hotel

I’ve already share about our family’s exploration of the old ghost towns of Virginia City and Nevada City, two towns that will take you back to the wild west. If you’re planning to stop for a visit and pan for gold, or walk through history, you’ll need to know where to stay.

Our family stayed in the Victorian Parlor Suite of the Nevada City Hotel. Our room was amazing, it was full of Victorian antiques! While I will say that the hotel is definitely basic in terms of age and amenities, we loved it. How often do you have the chance to sleep in a historic building, surrounded by artifacts?

The Nevada City Hotel is in Nevada City, which is a mile down the road, or a short train ride, from Virginia City. Virginia City does have more eateries and things to do, so if you want to stay along the main street, consider looking at the Fairweather Inn, another historic property located in the heart of Virginia City.

Where to Stay in Butte, MT – Copper King Mansion B&B

We just kept piling up the unique sleeping experiences on our trip to Southwest Montana. This time we stayed in a historic mansion in Butte. The Copper King Mansion was built by the wealthy William Andrews Clark, a major figure in Montana history.

The mansion does offer daily tours, part of which will affect your stay if you are overnighting there. They feature the mansion rooms in their tour, so if you’re staying in one, your stuff has to be packed away during tour hours. We were a little off-put about the idea. A single night stay could avoid this by checking in later and out early. Our family stayed in the family suite, which offers two beds, a private bath, and lots of space, ideal for families.

Staying at the B&B will get you a mansion tour and a delicious breakfast. You’ll be surrounded by history while sipping your coffee in the opulent dining room for breakfast. Truly a memorable experience!

Montana Hot Springs – Fairmont Hot Springs

First, realize this is NOT a Fairmont branded luxury hotel. Totally separate. This was probably the hotel I was the most excited about because experiencing hot springs seems like such an amazing mountain experience. We had some issue with our stay, and I feel that I should mention them for your own reference.

The lobby was very welcoming. You will notice hunter’s prizes on the walls, seems pretty common in Montana. Our room was midline basic, nice linens but worn building. They showcase some yummy snacks to tempt your kids and your late night sweet tooth, but they do come at a price.

The springs brought me some mixed emotions. On the positive side, the outdoor pool offers a fun slide that my girls enjoyed for a while. You have a limited slide time pass with your room, but can buy additional slide time if you want. It was also nice that the two pools are different temps, so you can choose your favorite. And the surrounding countryside is a beautiful surrounding to enjoy while soaking in the hot water.

But, I did feel the indoor water was dirty with debris floating around. My girls also voiced a bit of issue with the stuff floating in the water, but my husband said no big deal.

My biggest complaint by far was the food and service. We had dinner and breakfast, then went out of our way to make sure we’d never eat there again. Our dinner meal was like eating tv dinners that they pop out of the microwave and serve on a plate. At the breakfast buffet the serving dishes were empty, and no servers were in sight. We were the only ones in the restaurant at the time. Thankfully there was a McDonalds not too far away in Anaconda and we went there to eat.

My final note of caution is how my breakfast complaint was handled. The front desk clerk wanted to know if I had asked to speak with a manager at the time. I said no because we needed to head out, but that I did let the hostess know. She said I should have notified someone at the time and offered no kind of recompense for the situation and no apologies. It felt like she was blaming me for the situation.

Visiting hot springs in Montana is a perfect activity for families. If waterslides are your priority, then just understand my cautions from above. It was sad that we had such a disappointing experience there, but it in no way dampened the love we had for our trip to Southwest Montana.

If you’re looking for a vacation that will get you outdoors and help you reconnect with your kids, Montana is a great option. I still look back on the memories we made there and smile.

Check out our One Week Itinerary for Southwest Montana

Read about our Wagon Ride Dinner in Helena, Montana

See all the fun we had in Virginia City and Nevada City, Montana

Planning a trip to southwest Montana? Or maybe you're passing through on your Yellowstone vacation. These are the hotels where I stayed, plus the one I recommend you avoid!

Planning a trip to southwest Montana? Or maybe you’re passing through on your Yellowstone vacation. These are the hotels where I stayed, plus the one I recommend you avoid!

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Dave from Montana

Friday 23rd of February 2018

Ennis Montana is near the Madison River not the Gallatin River


Monday 26th of February 2018

Thanks for sharing that! We drove to the Gallatin River area for some ziplining and I didn't realize we had swapped rivers. I'll edit that!