Straddling the Clark Fork River, Missoula is
a far cry from its origins as Hellgate Village, founded
to service the sawmills and flour mills which located on
the river east of the present townsite. It's the largest
city in Western Montana and is a center for the forest
It's home to the University of Montana which
has 9,600 students. Missoula is the take-off point for a
very scenic drive to Flathead Lake & Kalispell, and
on to Glacier National
Park. Lying just east of the long Bitterroot
Range, Missoula is a hub for wilderness adventure.
What to See & Do
The Bob Marshall Wilderness is to the north and
the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness -- in the
Deerlodge National Forest -- to the south. The Mission
Mountains begin just north of town (in the Flathead
Indian Reservation). Flathead Lake is an hour's drive
north of town.
River recreation is available in all directions. The
Bitterroot, Clark Fork, Blackfoot and Flathead rivers all
feature fishing and river rafting expeditions. Within 50
miles of the city, there are more than 200 miles of prime
floating rivers and many more miles of fishing streams.
The variety of fish available is staggering: rainbow,
cutthroat, brown & brook trout, Dolly Varden,
kokanee, whitefish, bass and northern pike. There are
many public campgrounds around the city, most of them
managed by the National Forest Service, and
private RV parks in the city as well.
The two museums are worth visiting. Fort
Missoula includes an historical museum, a forest
service lookout, and 12 historic buildings at the site of
the original fort -- on South Avenue. The Missoula
Museum of the Arts, at 335 North Pattee, presents
changing art exhibitions along with films, lectures and
A convenient day-trip north from Missoula will
take you not only to Flathead Lake but to the National Bison Range, the home of up to 500 bison
in the Flathead Reservation, reached by taking Highway
93. This 19,000-acre range is also home to other wildlife
including whitetail and mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep,
mountain goats and pronghorn antelope. The visitor
center is in the community of Moise.
The city features four golf courses, two of them
(Missoula Country Club and Larchmont Golf
Course) with 18 holes. There are two ski areas in the
area: Snow Bowl and Marshall. There are
wildlife refuges located north and south of town.
The Lee Metcalf Refuge (25 miles south) hosts
migratory waterfowl. Ninepipe and Pablo refuges (north via Highway 93) are on the way to Flathead Lake
& the town of Polson. The area is a definite plus for
hot springs fans. Lolo Pass Hot Springs is west of
the city on the Montana/Idaho border. Other hot spring
operations include Sleeping Child, Lost
Trail and Medicine Hot Springs.
10,000 Waves Raft & Kayak Adventures
8080 West Riverside Drive, Missoula, 406-549-6670
Rafting or kayaking on the Blackfoot River, or through
Alberton Gorge on the Clark Fork River offer a true Montana experience: scenic float, overnight camping trips, kayak tours, kayak instruction, guided river trips, or boat rentals. Custom trips can also be arranged.
For info, go
Best Western Plus Grant Creek Inn
5280 Grant Creek Road, Missoula 800-780-7234
Located three miles from downtown Missoula, this is an upscale motor inn with large rooms, free WiFi, a business center, pool and whirlpool, and a full free breakfast. Pet friendly.
4825 North Reserve Street Missoula 406-721-0990 or toll-free at 800-221-2057
This hotel has been family owned and operated for a long time (over 30 years). The same company operates a number of national chain properties in the region. Amenities include 125 units including standard rooms and suites (including a honeymoon suite). The hotel has a heated outdoor pool, outdoor creek-side whirlpool, and free WiF. Hot breakfast is included in the room cost.
As with the other Montana cities and just about everywhere else, the city has a lot of national chain hotels, each like the others in its brand.
Camping & Recreation
Missoula El-Mar KOA
3450 Tina Avenue, Missoula 406-549-0881 or toll-free at 800-562-5366
The largest campground in the area (36 tenting and 173 RV
sites) also features a swimming pool, hot tub and
mini-golf. Full hook-ups. Take Exit 101 off I-90 to
Reserve St. and then turn onto Tina.