A Road Trip to a Really Cool Time at Norris Hot Springs


It’s that time of year in Montana when we couldn’t agree more with Henry James:  “The two most beautiful words in the English language are summer afternoon.”  Especially after this past winter, we’ve been thoroughly enjoying not just summer afternoons, but mornings and evenings, as well.

We recently took a trip to a little bit west of Bozeman, to Norris Hot Springs (also known as “Water of the Gods.”)  It’s been on our “want to visit” list (and that list could take a lifetime to complete; aside from the obvious places like Yellowstone and Glacier, there are so many hidden gems of places in this superlative state) for several years, but, in past years, by the time we get around to going, the temps are in the high 90’s, and who wants to sit in hot water then?  So we planned this trip for late June.

Like most good road trips, the journey itself was a part of the destination, and we were in amazing-grace awe at the scenery – the Crazy Mountains gloriously “decal-ed” onto the far-off sky, rippling golden fields of mustard beneath cotton-candy clouds, the dazzling green (thanks, actually, to all the snow – they call it “moisture” here – from this past winter), the slow-motion poetry of fly fishermen in the Madison River, the brilliant underbellies of white pelicans flashing in the sun as they circled on updrafts, and the surprise of blooming cactus (I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise, since we are in a high-desert area).

Field of mustard.







Surely this was the kind of summer afternoon that Henry James meant, we surmised, when we arrived at a BLM campground near Norris.


Pelicans along the Madison.





After setting up the tent, we enjoyed a lazy afternoon, reading in the sun and watching white pelicans soar about us.  Truly, a quintessential summer afternoon.  By late afternoon, we headed to the hot springs, planning to spend an hour or two, and then return to the campground for dinner.

The first thing we saw driving into the parking lot at Norris was an incredible garden.  We assumed that it belonged to the owners, or the space was rented by someone else.  But, we were soon to discover that the garden produce is used at the cafe/restaurant on the grounds.  They’ve got a wonderful “50 Mile Grill” on the premises – named because they try, as much as possible, to source local food from within 50 miles.  And the garden – about 50 yards away – was one such source.



Their menu is a creative mixture of local burgers (Montana, grass-fed beef and bison) and steaks, local rainbow trout and lamb, burritos, tacos, nachos, and a wide variety of fresh salads.  Order the kale Caesar salad, and you can watch it being made!  Of course, there’s also locally-produced wine and beers.   Naturally, our dinner plans changed.

But first, we “took the waters,” where we met this evening’s musician, Shannon Wurst, and her boyfriend, Nathan.  Over the course of the evening, we had a wide-ranging conversation with Nathan about … everything.  Maybe conversation just flows better in hot water.

IMG_2069It was a cloudy evening – even a tad cool – so the water temperature was perfect for relaxing, talking, moving around, and even eating and drinking.  The pool is lined with wooden slats – kind of like a large wooden box – and all along the edges are wooden-slatted benches.  And the cool part?  You can order your dinner, take a number on a stick back  to where you’re located in the pool, and your meal and drink get delivered to you – in the pool!  With great music accompanying your in-pool dining.

Really, the whole place is a kind of sensual overload, in a good way, with the water, food, and music.  But there are also beautiful flower gardens and bird-feeders (attracting gorgeous yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds) near the pool, wetlands and wildlife just beyond it, the sense of history from sitting in hot springs that date back to the 1880’s, and the satisfaction of watching the big Montana sky dissolve into twilight before twinkling stars pierce the darkness and reflect off this amazing geothermal water of the gods.

If you’re in the area, don’t miss a soak at Norris Hot Springs.

About Karen

While loving the wizardry of words, I also love to travel because of that present-moment sense that each day is a gift to unwrap that the experience of travel conveys so well. Other passions include hiking, gardening, photographing, movies and documentaries, reading, writing (I've finished my first novel .... and seeking an agent) and entering recipe contests. Michael and I are both fascinated with factory tours, literary landmarks, and seeking restaurants mentioned in novels - just to see if they exist. Our favorite restaurant we've found this way is the Nuevo Latino-style Yuca (www.yuca.com) in Miami.
This entry was posted in Food, Fun Stuff, Montana, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Road Trip to a Really Cool Time at Norris Hot Springs

  1. Natalie says:

    Hi Karen,
    My name is Natalie Sullivan and I’m casting an international travel show about expats moving abroad. We’d love to film in Mexico and wanted to know if you could help us find expats who have moved there within the last 15 months or have been there for 3-4 years, but recently moved into a new home. The show documents their move to a new country and will place the country in fabulous light. The expats on the show would also receive monetary compensation if they are filmed. They must also speak English fluently and can be buyers or renters for their homes. If you’d like more information, please give me a call at 212-231-7717 or skype me at natalieesullivan. You can also email me at nataliesullivan@leopardusa.com. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  2. manuelcosta256 says:

    Very Nice. I will put a link in my blog: https://producaoindustrialblog.wordpress.com/

  3. Lakeside Medical Group -Covering ExPats in Mexico for healthcare needs (https://www.lakemedicalgroup.com/) accepts over 250 US and International insurance policies, Lake Medical Group offers the most comprehensive care for your insurance policy. No more out of pocket expenses. We handle all the billing between providers and insurance agencies directly, with no additional fees.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s