Seeing places where you grew up after many years is an interesting, and often bittersweet experience. Depending on where you grew up, things may have changed considerably. Homes and businesses you got used to seeing every single day change, little by little—sometimes disappearing completely, to be gobbled up by new construction that looks nothing like what you remember.
Of course, that all depends on where you grew up—and in some places, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Case in point: The area of Western Montana that motovlogger Amanda Zito and her brother have been showing us in a mini-series on Amanda’s YouTube channel. They both grew up in Hamilton, Montana, are avid riders and moto campers, and are eager to show the places they love to those riders who are making plans for their next trip out west.
This episode is a very rainy ride, but they’ve committed to it—and most importantly of all, they both know how to gear up to make sure that they and their stuff stay reasonably dry. Rain doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker, as long as you’ve got the right gear to deal with it. Staying dry helps with staying warm, and having gear that helps you do both makes all the difference in the world.
As has been the case throughout this trip, they recorded their route on the official As the Magpie Flies blog, so interested riders can incorporate any or all of it into future plans (link in our Sources). This leg starts in Ennis, then winds through the living ghost towns of Virginia City and Nevada City, which are just some of a slew of gold rush towns that thrived in the late 19th century.
Unlike many of their counterparts, though, they were able to successfully transition away from their original purpose and become tourist destinations. That, in turn, allowed them to preserve some of the historic architecture, landmarks, and general flavor of the area at that time—so modern-day visitors can take a few steps back in time to see historic buildings come alive in the 21st century.
From there, the pair ride on to Dillon, which they advise is the best place to get fuel for your bike and yourself if you plan to press onward into western Montana. There’s not much else around, so you’ll want to avail yourself of those amenities while you can. They continue on through Bannack, Big Hole Valley, and the Bitterroot Valley before ending up in Hamilton—the town where they grew up.
There are plenty of tips on good places to visit, see, and even eat along the way—with a special shout-out to Wells Fargo Steakhouse in Virginia City, which the Zitos say has “arguably the best food you’ll find in 70 miles.” Mostly, of course, it’s all about the scenery—and rain or shine, there’s a whole lot to see in this part of the country.