Montana Arboretum and Gardens, Missoula

Will Beck
Last Updated: March 4th, 2023

The Montana Arboretum and Gardens, or the State of Montana Arboretum, is a living museum of trees, shrubs, and plants, selected for educational purposes and visual beauty, passing on a legacy from the University of Montana on the campus.

The arboretum is home to more than 2000 trees on campus, with mini habitats and natural community demonstrations. The University and State of Montana Arboretum are on aboriginal territories of the Seliš (Salish) and Qlispé (Kalispel) people.

Important Details for Montana Arboretum and Gardens

the main hall clock tower

The Montana Arboretum and Gardens are always open and always free for all visitors. Visit them today with the help of the information below.

History of Montana Arboretum and Gardens


Located on the campus of the Montana State University in Missoula, the arboretum is situated on the northwestern corner of campus. The plantings, however, occur throughout the campus, with designated areas throughout.

The plantings feature native plants from the northern Rocky Mountain regions, the dry regions of Montana in a xeriscaping garden, and the plains of Montana.

Different types of forests are also represented throughout the regions of campus.

Central Hardwoods Forests

With over 70 types of hardwood species, the central hardwood forests of the world have abundant rains and optimal temperatures for hardwoods to grow. Visit a variety of trees from this region while on campus.

Pacific Coastal Forests

You’re probably familiar with 300-foot tall redwoods already, with their 2-foot long cones. But there are many others in this forest region that you can visit on campus, including western hemlock, Douglas fir, Sequoia, silver fir, Sitka spruce, and others.

Great Plains

Montana is known for its mountains and its great plains. Here, in this region, and on-campus you’ll find Ponderosa pine, green ash, boxelder, cottonwoods, and bur oaks.

Boreal Forests

A boreal forest is in the far north with harsh, short-growing seasons where caribou, lynx, moose, and timber wolves weave in and out among the pines, firs, poplars, and larch.

Northern Rocky Mountain Complex

The mountain ecosystems of Montana are shaped by wildfires, where wolves, elk, moose, and wolverines roam free. Here you’ll find Ponderosa pine, whitebark pines, western larch, Douglas fir, Engelmann spruce, and lodgepole.

Southern Rocky Mountains Complex

In the southern Rockies, you’ll find another growing season that’s short, though it’s due to high elevation and seasonal droughts. Here Colorado blue spruce, foxtail pine, Jeffrey pine, and bristlecone pine grow.

Northeastern Mixed Woods

In glacier regions, yellow birch, eastern hemlock, red and white pines, spruce, fir, sugar maples, and American beech grow in abundance.

Southeastern Mixed Forests

Along the southeastern coast, you’ll find oaks and pines of diverse sizes and shapes, including longleaf, loblolly, pitch, and Virginia pines.

What Makes the Montana Arboretum and Gardens So Appealing?


The unique layout of the campus, intermingling the arboretum with the campus is one of the most unique aspects of this distinctive spot in Montana.

The selection of trees focus on forestry, and placement all make for a usual and pleasant experience, open to all, thanks to its openness and zero entry fee.

Visiting the Montana Arboretum and Gardens

arboretum and gardens

For a look at some of the nation’s most glorious tree samples in one location, take a stroll through the Montana Arboretum and Gardens, located on the campus of the University of Montana in Missoula.

The sections of “forest” type throughout the campus give glimpses into the natural habitats of the country all in one place.

And since it’s on campus, there’s no fee for entry and the arboretum is always open.

Be sure to:

  • Wear proper footwear for comfortable exploration throughout the large campus
  • Wear protective gear for sun exposure (sunglasses, sunhat, sunblock)
  • Pull up the campus map before you head out
  • Bring a picnic to enjoy beneath the beautiful trees
  • Plan for about an hour of walking and wandering for a casual exploration

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About The Author

Will Beck

Will is a true digital nomad, taking his work on the road at every opportunity. His first love is coffee, with travel a close 2nd. He loves nothing more than hitting the road in his self-build campervan and visiting off-the-beaten-path places, away from popular tourist destinations.

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