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Things to Do in Missoula, Montana

Things to do in Missoula Montana

IN THIS ARTICLE

Are you getting bored and wondering what to do in Missoula Montana? There are many things to do in Missoula; unless you explore it, you can’t get it.

Missoula is considered the most vibrant and popular destination in Montana, U.S. The city provides a healthy balance of outdoor recreational opportunities and urban facilities for citizens. It is home to plenty of blue-ribbon trout fishing, kayaking adventures, and nearby hiking trails. Known for its rich art and culture, funky shops, alluring nature, famous cuisines, and energetic environment, visitors, especially youngsters will find a lot of things to do in Missoula Mt.

Things to Missoula Montana

Is there anything to do in Missoula?

Missoula is one of the most attractive places to visit and stay in the US. It is situated at a higher altitude in the Northern Rockies and is blushed with so much breathtaking wilderness. Tourists visit Missoula Montana throughout the year, but the best time to go to Montana is July And August.

The only attraction that defines Missoula is its easy ingress to the outdoors that includes a wide variety of activities like winter sports, hiking, riding, ski diving, and fly fishing. You can get access to all these activities in the Lolo national forest, which surrounds all sides of Missoula.

What is Missoula Montana famous for?

Missoula is famous for its stunning natural beauty, Blue Ribbon trout fishing, and endless outdoor recreational opportunities. It is surrounded by three rivers and seven wild areas making it the best place in Montana to live for every outdoor enthusiast.

Missoula is also known for having plentiful breweries, cafes, restaurants, coffee houses, and have three distinct shopping centers that fit all palates and budgets. Foreigners find Missoula’s arts and tourism centers filled with an abundance of entertainment and cultural events. Film festivals, theatres, author’s reading at book stores, ballet, opera, college sports, glacial lake, and Roller Derby are a few such entertainment destinations that proudly speaks Missoula’s history and culture.

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Best Things to do in Missoula Montana

1.Clark Fork Riverfront Trail

The Clark Fork River flows through Missoula, and the Clark Fork River Trail spans both banks in either direction from downtown. This Riverfront Trail is the city’s main hiking corridor and an excellent place to introduce Missoula’s natural beauty.

Clark Fork

People can use the Riverfront Trail on either the north or south bank from the Hip Strip, with Higgins Street, Orange Street, and the Madison Street pedestrian bridge connecting both sides. The trail joins many other popular places, including Caras Park, the Montana Natural History Center, and the University of Montana area.

People can also reach the base of Mount Sentinel and Ogren Park at Allegiance Field. The path is also used by walkers, joggers, strollers, and bicyclists. You can enjoy the scenery along the Riverfront Trail, made easy at places like the Clark Fork River Natural Area.

How long is the riverfront trail Missoula?

The Riverfront Trail, Missoula follows the Clark fork river and gets connected to the Kim William nature trail, providing 11.265 km uninterrupted trafficked trail access to the users. You can cross the river on any one of the three bridges-the Madison Street Bridge, Orange Street, and the Higgins Avenue that lies along the trail or 3 footbridges- one under the Madison Street bridge, one near California Street, and Van Buren.

Where can I walk in Missoula MT?

If you feel like going on a walk-in Missoula MT, here’s a list of several paved and unpaved trails that will get you some exercise and make you feel relaxed without giving you any stress.

Missoula’s MTDistanceType of path
Maclay Flat1.25 mileUnpaved
Kim Williams Nature Trail2.5 mileUnpaved
Big Skyhorse Park Perimeter Trail1.7 mileUnpaved
Main Rattlesnake Travel Corridor15 mileUnpaved
Ron’s Southside River Trial1.5 milePaved
Ron’s Northside River Trial System2 milePaved
Greenough Park Trials1 milePaved and Unpaved
Playfair Park Trials1.4 mileUnpaved
Fort Missoula Regional Park Bowl Loop1 milePaved
Grant Creek Trail3.3 milePaved

2. Smokejumper Visitor Center

Located in Missoula, the Smokejumper Visitor Center is home to the largest smokejumper foundation in the country. The center provides a unique and interactive chance to learn about this demanding and vital occupation.

Smokejumper

You can visit the Smokejumper dormer, the ready room, the National Smokejumper memorial, gift shop and a museum, consisting of a fire lookout tower built initially in 1930. Smokejumper aircraft are also present during the summer, and visitors may even see Smokejumpers dispatched to a fire.

Tourists can take trips at 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, and 4pm daily. It takes around 45 minutes and is cost-free.

How do I become a smokejumper in Montana?

To become a smokejumper in Montana applicants have to meet certain physical requirements, must have 4-6 years of experience in fire fighting, complete a training program for five weeks, go through a fitness test and clear a test of caring 110lb pack for 3 miles on flat terrain in less than 90 minutes.

How many Smokejumpers are there in the US?

In the US, there are around 450 jumpers at 9 smokejumper camps who act on remote and high-risk fires quickly and safely.

3. Rattlesnake National Recreation Area

The Rattlesnake National Recreation Area covers around 28,000 acres of the Rattlesnake drainage. It is situated north of Missoula and a segment of the Lolo National Forest. It is the best place for hikers and mountain bikers. Long ago, the Rattlesnake Corridor Trail was a functioning forest service road but now is the main hiking path. Several other tracks stem from this broad and flat path, leading to Spring Gulch and Sawmill Gulch.

Rattlesnake National Recreation Area

The place is also eminent among fishing aspirants due to many lakes, ponds, and clear mountain streams with plenty of trout, and the backcountry tracks motivate all sorts of skiing and snowshoeing. Backpacking is also access into the adjacent Rattlesnake Wilderness located north of the Recreational Area. The Rattlesnake, Pattee Canyon and Blue Mountain National Recreation Areas are three designated National Recreation Areas bordering the city. Pattee Canyon and Blue Mountain also host famous disc golf courses that receive a lot of tourists in summer.

4. Go Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is an art that focuses on the technique you are using to attract fish and the location you prefer. Missoula has a lot of prime locations for this active form of fishing. Beautiful rivers and tributaries cut through the landscape, and there is enough space to find your slice of heaven.

Go Fly Fishing

Several towns in Montana claim to be the state’s fly-fishing Mecca, but none have Missoula’s close-in river miles and diversity. Within an hour in the city, the opportunities are incredible, and you don’t always have to drive. You can realistically fish world-class water right downtown. Clarke Fork River, Bitterroot River, Rock Creek, and Blackfoot River are the best Missoula Montana fly fishing spots. For beginning fly anglers, the best bet to enjoy the water is to hire the help of a local guide.

What is the best month for fly fishing in Montana?

The best month for fly fishing in Montana is typically from March 1 till October 31. These are the prime fly fishing season in Montana although fishing is done year-round.

Where is the best fishing in Montana?

Bozeman is one of the best spots for fly fishing and other outdoor activities. Besides that, the other top fishing destinations in Montana are:

  • Beaverhead river
  • Big hole river
  • Hebgen lake
  • Misery river
  • Madison river
  • Yellowstone river
  • Hyalite reservoir
  • Bighorn river
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5. Caras Park

Caras Park is a centerpiece outdoor space of the city, located along the Clark Fork Riverfront Trail. There are two large pavilions at the park where people assemble for festive celebrations such as symphony performances, Downtown Tonight gatherings, and the Pray for Snow Party in October. Caras Park has hosted more than 1,000 private and public events over 12 years.

Caras Park

Like the Clark Fork Market, other downtown events arise from this inviting community area. And when the site isn’t in use, it becomes a lovely public place for enjoying sunny weather and picnic lunches. Adjacent to the pavilions, visitors have a perfect spot to watch surfers surfing on the Clark Fork River.

Apart from Caras Park, Yellowstone Park is also a popular tourist attraction and is known to be the first and the biggest national park in the U.S. The park is famous for Old Faithful geyser and wildlife. The West Yellowstone Airport (WYS) is the nearest airport to Yellowstone National Park and the best month to visit this beauty is during the offseason months- April, September, and October as you can watch out for a glimpse of migrating birds and local wildlife. 

6. Native Species at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) aims to protect elk and other wildlife habitats through land protection and management. The foundation provides many aspects to engage with the process and learn about the natural habitats that elk call home.

Rocky Mountaon

Headed under the RMEF, the Elk Country Visitor Center is an excellent place to visit to engage with the base and features engaging exhibits and information to discover Elk Country. The visitor center is open every day between June and October, with more limited hours the rest of the year. It is located off Grant Creek Road, a five-mile drive northwest of downtown.

The visitor center also offers a substantial collection of nature films and pictures. The foundation also supports events in Missoula and across the west, including annual expos, elk camps, and a traveling Great Elk Tour.

Can you hunt Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation land?

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation land is an improved and protected habitat for elk and other wildlife and its 8.2 million acres area has an opened access for the visitors for hunting fishing or otherwise spending time.

What species of elk are in Montana?

The elk herd in Montana belongs to a specific genetic subspecies that have large antlers, thus are named Rocky mountain elk, and those having larger bodies, small antlers and are moderately darker in color are called Roosevelt elk are found in forests of western Washington. Roosevelt elk are slightly darker in color and larger in size than the Rocky Mountain elk.

7. Historical Museum at Fort Missoula

Formed in 1975, the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula preserves the city’s frontier history. The original fort was established in 1877 amid disturbances with the Indigenous Western Indian tribes of the area, and the museum campus consists of 32 acres with over 20 historically significant structures.

Historical Meuseum

The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula displays the early years of townsfolk, colonizer, and regular soldiers. The museum features self-guided tours of the property, including the opportunity to explore the inside of historic structures dedicated exhibition space showcasing Missoula’s history.

Fort Missoula also organizes a wide variety of weekly and yearly programs. The two most popular events include the annual “Fourth of July at the Fort” festival and a sizeable annual used-book sale. Moreover, holiday candlelight tours also occur at the end of the season.

Why was Fortououla built?

Fort Missoula or Fortououla was built with due respect to the requests made by local people and settlers for protection against conflict or war with western Montana Indian tribes.

Why is Missoula called Zootown?

The reason why Missoula is called zoo town is that the word Missoula itself sounds like a zoo. People of Missoula, Montana are like to have wild parties and get indulged mostly with outdoor recreational activities that are associated with the wilderness natural areas and forests like hiking, fishing, etc. 

8. Ski at Snowbowl

Montana Snowbowl is an alpine ski ground in the western U.S, located in the Lolo National Forest of western Montana, 20 km northwest of Missoula. It is famous for long expert runs such as West Bowl and throwback operations; there is no significant base development. Its two lifts are vintage Riblet double chairs; the access road is significantly improved as of 2011 but still unpaved.

Ski

Montana Snowbowl is famous for steep runs and a 2,600-foot vertical rise. It is a 12-mile drive northwest of Missoula and a local favorite winter sports destination for tourists looking for a bit of downhill action. It is also one of Montana’s best ski resorts. It is trendy among seasoned snowboarders and skiers searching for longer runs, like the famous West Bowl.

How much snow does Montana Snowbowl get?

Mountainous snowball receives an average snowfall of 760 cm (300 annual inches) of Montana white snow falling on the ski mountains and terrain.

How big is Snowbowl Montana?

Snowball Montana has 2200 acres of skiable steep terrain of 760m long vertical rise checked by the grizzly, the new snow park, and LaVelle creek, three double chair lifts with a small T-bar, and a rope tow in the base area.   The other geographical details of Montana snowball are as follows:

  • Skiable area: 3.8km2
  • Vertical rise: 790m
  • Top elevation: 2315m
  • Base elevation: 1525m
  • Longest run: 5km
  • No. of Runs: 39

9. St. Francis Xavier Church

The St. Francis Xavier Church is located in Missoula, Montana. Moreover, it is the tallest church in Missoula and one of the tallest in the state regarding height to roof. It consists of paintings over 100 years old, made by a brother of the Society of Jesus. He was a kitchen helper who painted them in his leisure time.

Church

It is situated at 420 West Pine Street. St. Francis Xavier Church is more pretending to be a European church than a traditional North American religious edifice. While it resembles the style typical to many U.S. towns and cities from the outside, its splendid interior sets it apart.

Jesuits built the first St. Francis Xavier Church in 1881. In 1888, a Jesuit Priest called Father Diomedicame hired an architect named Mr. Blanchard and a contractor named Patrick Walsh from Poland and Missoula, respectively. The church was built to hold 600 on the main floor and another 150 in the choir loft.

10. Farmer’s Markets

Missoula Farmer’s Market displays fresh local produce, baked goods and coffee sold by over 100 vendors in an outdoor setting. It is like a cultural treat. You can find your favorite farmers, ranchers and food producers here. The local farmers work together to meet the increasing demand for local, sustainable food in the Missoula community.

Farmer Market

By shopping here, you support your neighbors and their small businesses while tasting the pure and best products of Montana. The farmers are committed to bringing fresh, healthy, locally grown and affordable food weekly during the growing season.

The market is open from mid-May to mid-October every Saturday from 8:00 am – 12:30 pm and in July through September, Tuesday evenings from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Missoula Farmer’s Market is located at Circle Square on Railroad and North Higgins Avenue in Downtown Missoula.

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11. Garnet Ghost Town

Garnet is an ancient mining ghost town located in west-central Montana. The ghost town is located at an altitude of about 6,000 feet at the top of First Chance Creek.

Garnet Ghost Town

The town is named after the brown garnet rock, a semi-precious stone. It was once used in rubbing in the area. The city dates back to 1895 under the Bureau of Land Management and the Garnet Preservation Association, a non-profit citizens group. Here, more than 30 buildings have been preserved.

There is a Visitor Center, interpretive signs and self-guided trails, books, cards, and other souvenirs. Leashed pets are allowed, and the city is open to visitors throughout the year. No wheeled vehicles are permitted from January to April end. Moreover, Garnet is used in winter as an automobile and cross-country ski trip. Winter cabin rentals are also present.

Why is Garnet Montana a Ghost Town?

In 1912, a fire broke down in the business district of the town destroying many commercial buildings, wealth, and lives that forced the residents to abandon and vacant the place making the place a Ghost Town. Later, The death of Garnet in 1947 and the sale of his belongings in 1948 officially marked the rise of Garnet, Montana as a Ghost Town.

Can you stay in Garnet Montana for free?

Garnet Montana town has now been abandoned for more than a hundred years. So, you can stay in the lodges there for free, with provided propane-powered refrigerator and a range inside the furnished room as there is no electricity or water available in the Ghost Town.

What is there to do in Garnet Ghost Town?

The Garnet Ghost Town offers beautiful Garnet mountains that lie between the Black Foot and the Clark Fork river which was primarily used by the native Americans for hunting and collecting berries. The other sites that you might take a look if you visit Garnet ghost town are:

  • Warren park trial
  • Sierra mine loop trial
  • Garnet day
  • Placer trail

12. Local Restaurant

Meat is trendy in Montana. Most restaurants have lots of meat, so do not be shocked to see them on their menus. It is not limited to beef steaks, beef burgers, and fried chicken steaks. There is also elk meat, bison meat, buffalo burgers and steaks, and venison. However, you may discover plenty of vegan options too.

Local Restaurants

You can purchase beers and wines from grocery stores and local restaurants. However, you can only find brewed beers in state-owned liquor stores for hard liquor such as gin, whiskies, vodka, and bourbon. These stores are only open every day except Sunday.

There are various wild food and fruits In Montana. In Montana, people highly contribute to tipping. Evening dining restaurants primarily open from 5.00 pm to 11.00 pm.

The restaurant chains in Montana are:

  • The Fieldhouse
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • Jersey Mike’s Sub
  • Montana Brewing Company
  • Stacked, A Montana Grill
  • Uberbrew

What is the most popular restaurant in Montana?

The most popular award-winning restaurant in Montana is Roadhouse Diner where you can enjoy amazing customized burgers with ingredients, additions, and puddings of your choice.

Where can I dine in Montana?

Saketome Sushi is an amazing Asian food restaurant present in Downtown Missoula considered best for dining. They serve the best seafood cuisines and Sushi in Missoula. Their list of fish menu, beers, wine, cocktails, siders is quite extensive and diverse. They also offer vegan and gluten-free food items.

Things to do in Missoula Montana FAQs

Does Missoula have a downtown? 

Downtown Missoula is present right at the center of the community in West-central Montana and Missoula Montana bounded by Madison St, to its east, Clark Fork River to its south, West Alder St. to its north, and North Orange St. to its west.  Downtown has exciting stores, galleries, shops, restaurants, boutiques, historic monuments, several parks, amusement centers, and more. Also, it is a place full of crowds due to non-stop events, celebrations, and festivals going on year-round.

Conclusion

We hope this travel blog has spawned countless ideas and interesting things to do in Missoula in your “must-visit” list. We would love to know your favored discoveries in the below comment section. Also, don’t forget to check out how to move to Montana and the best time to go to Montana if you are relocating to Missoula, Montana.

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