Missoula is a city situated in Western Montana, known as “the hub of five valleys” since five high mountain ranges surround it. Missoula covers an area of 34.66 sq. miles, making it the second-largest city in Montana, US. It is also called the River City because one of the most popular rivers, the Clark Fork River, runs through the heart of Missoula.
Moreover, it is a popular tourist attraction since it is located near two famous national parks; the Yellowstone National Park and the Glacier National Park.
Five Things That Missoula Offers
Missoula is the ideal vacation destination for outdoor adventurers. This gorgeous city is not only famous for being rich in culture and having an exquisite rugged landscape but also happens to have numerous recreational activities for its residents as well as tourists. Because of this characteristic of Missoula, a large number of people from around the world visit it annually. However, before planning a trip to this exciting place, it is essential to learn about all that it offers.
So, if you are planning a trip to this beautiful city in Montana but are confused about where to go and what to do, then we are here for you! Following is a list of the five most popular things to do in Missoula:
1. Go For a Hike
There is an abundance of hiking trails in Missoula. So, if you are interested in hiking, lace up your shoes and go on an adventurous hike in this city. The city offers exceptional views, and there is no better way to explore these than by going on a hike.
The Mount Sentinel Hike or the “M” hike is one of the most popular hiking trails in Missoula. It is dog-friendly as well, so you can always take your dog to accompany you. The “M” trail is 3.1 miles long and is an out & back trail type. It also offers an elevation gain of up to 620 feet. You can admire the scenic landscape as the top of Mount Sentinel provides an aerial view of the city of Missoula.
Other than that, Kim William Nature Trail is a 9.8 miles long hiking trail that is quite popular among hikers. This trail runs alongside the Clark Fork River and provides gorgeous views to all the hikers. This out & back trail starts as asphalt and after a mile, turns into gravel and dirt. Furthermore, the trail allows dogs and is suitable for all skill levels.
Besides these, Missoula features several other hiking trails such as McFly Flat Nature Trail, “L” Hike, Waterworks Hill, and many others. If you like to get the runner’s high or love long peaceful strolls while admiring the view, then Missoula is undoubtedly the place for you!
2. Admire the Art
The exquisite landscape of Missoula is enough to inspire anyone to create art, and maybe that is why there are a fair amount of art galleries present in this lovely city. Many tourists visiting Missoula make their way to all the art galleries that the city offers and admire the art showcased there.
The Missoula Art Museum is the home to regional art and provides good insight into the history of Missoula. The permanent collection here consists of over 2300 objects. This art museum also features paintings from Native American artists like Gail Tremblay, George Longfish, and Corwin Clairmont. This Native American art collection is one of its kind. It does not compare to anything else exhibited in the States as it is considered to be the most extensive Native American art collection in the US.
Centrally located in the historic downtown of Missoula, Radius Gallery has a collection of a massive variety of regional contemporary fine art. Walk-in visitors are always welcome in this open year-round art gallery. Radius Gallery is popular in Missoula because, along with paintings, sculptures, and other art pieces, it also promotes ceramics art which is guaranteed to grab your attention.
Another art gallery promoting local fine arts is the Dana Gallery. A diverse range of art styles is available here, including conceptual, abstract, landscape, and traditional Western. All these places play a huge role in promoting regional artists and helping the visitors learn more about the local artwork.
3. Give Fly-Fishing a Try
Fly-fishing is done using a lightweight bait, also known as an artificial fly. It is a common activity in Missoula as Blackfoot River, Bitterroot River, Rock Creek, and Clark Fork River are home to many gamefish. Also, Missoula is one of the top ten trout fishing towns in North America. Besides trout, some other species in these river streams include perch, whitefish, northern pike, and bass.
If river fishing is not something you are interested in, Missoula also offers many opportunities for lake fishing. Lake fishing is permitted on Flathead Lake, Georgetown Lake, Seeley Lake, and a few other locations. The species found in these lakes include Cutthroat Trout, Lake Trout, Kokanee, Largemouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, Yellow Perch, and others. However, please keep in mind that a fishing license is required if you want to partake in this hobby.
Fishing is usually done as a sport or a hobby during the Springs in Missoula. So, if you happen to be there during that time, take your fishing equipment with you and go to the nearest fishing spot to get one of the best fly-fishing experiences ever! If you want to enjoy this hobby to the fullest, do take the help of one of Missoula’s local guides, as they are more than happy to help you out and give you the most beneficial fishing tips.
4. Try Bird-Watching
Because of its natural beauty, Missoula is, no doubt, a sight for sore eyes. If you are an avid bird-watcher, trust us, Missoula will serve as the perfect vacation spot for you. The city of Missoula is home to a diverse variety of bird species, so it’s a dream come true for all the bird enthusiasts out there!
There are numerous bird-watching spots in Missoula, and it just depends on what kind of bird you are trying to find. If you are interested in catching a glimpse of Black-backed and Three-toed Woodpeckers, you should visit the verdurous forests of Blue Mountain.
If the names Killdeer, Warbler, Willow Flycatcher, Spotted Sandpiper, or Merganser grab your attention, then don’t think twice before making your way to the Clark Fork River. To watch some Lewis Woodpeckers or Great Blue Herons, you can take a trip to the Cottonwoods of Kelly Island.
You can also go to Greenough Park to see some American Redstarts, Lazuli Buntings, and Western Screech Owls. Waterworks Hill has Western Meadowlarks, Bluebirds, Savannah Sparrows, and Vesper Sparrows. And lastly, if you are someone who is only fascinated by hawks and would like to catch a sight of Bald Eagles, Osprey, Cooper’s Hawks, or Red-Tailed Hawks, then we would suggest taking a hike down Kim Williams Trail or in Council Grove State Park.
5. Go Skiing
Skiing is another recreational activity that attracts tourists to Missoula. The city has many options to carry out this hobby as there are many skiing sites in this area. The Great Divide Area is a popular choice among the families that are visiting Missoula.
This Park offers more than 140 skiing trails with three mountain lifts. This skiing facility also offers night skiing on Fridays. Lost Mountain Skiing Area is built on Lost Trail Powder Mountain. This area usually has up to 300 inches of snowfall annually, and that is why it serves as a great skiing location. It is situated in the Bitterroot Range, in the region where Montana and Idaho meet and is an affordable skiing option.
The Montana Snowbowl is a common choice amongst tourists as it is one of the most popular skiing resorts in the area. It also has one of the steepest trails in the States, with a vertical drop of 2600 feet. But other than that, it also has some great skiing trails available for people that have just started exploring this hobby and are at a beginner level.
The Lookout Pass, the Blacktail Mountain, Discovery Ski Area, and Whitefish Mountain Resorts are some other skiing sites. So, gear up, and enjoy a unique skiing experience in Missoula.
There are some places on earth that everyone should visit at least once in their life, and Missoula happens to be one of those places. Missoula offers a vast array of outdoor recreational activities for people of all ages. Whether you love the rush of adrenaline or want to indulge in calming hobbies, Missoula has it all!
To make it easier for you to decide which activities you wanna partake in, we have shortlisted five of the best things to do in this magnificent city. We hope you benefit from our guide on your next trip there! This city offers an unparalleled experience to all its visitors, and a trip to Missoula is guaranteed to remain a cherished memory forever.