Missoula Travel Guide

The thriving college town of Missoula is one of Montana’s premier destinations thanks to its cozy blend of downtown shops and caf├ęs, as well as its proximity to some of the finest outdoor recreation sites in the state. The Clark Fork River runs through this city and mountains surround its valley location, while the student population ensures that the scene stays lively throughout the year.

The University of Montana plays a big role in this town’s character. The bustling, trendy downtown district is more heavily populated by young, progressive students than grizzled ranchers. Artists, writers and nature conservationists add a distinct cultural edge to the scene; but at the end of the day, Missoula holds on to its Western roots and is well worth a few days of your time.

The layout of Missoula is somewhat confusing, as downtown is bisected by the river and the various neighborhoods are scattered on both banks. There are three bridges providing access across the water, and some great trails run along the river if you want to take a walk or jog. Most of the places to eat, drink, shop and sleep are found in the downtown area, so start your explorations there. The Visitor Center has some good maps on historic walking tours. You’ll need a car, however, if you want to explore the incredible outdoor recreation in the area.

Highlights

Historical Museum at Fort Missoula: inside this historic 1877 fort is a museum dedicated to the early pioneering days in Missoula. On the grounds are a number of historic buildings which have been moved to the site.

Art Museum of Missoula: this rather large downtown art museum displays some 600 pieces of art from about 200 artists, but pays particular attention to contemporary works by Native American and local Montana artists.

The Farmers Market: from May to October, every Saturday brings one of the best farmers markets in the West to Market Plaza right in the heart of downtown. Fresh produce, fruit, flowers and other snacks are in full bloom.

Rattlesnake Wilderness: covering 59,000 acres, this protected wilderness area is the closest national park to Missoula, offering quick and easy access to a vast realm of outdoor recreation.

Montana Snowbowl: get your skis on and enjoy the slopes at the city’s most developed ski areas.