Missoula is a medium size city in Western Montana with a population of about 73,000 (2020). The hub of five valleys in the northwest region of the state, or Glacier Country, the town boasts the University of Montana, the Rattlesnake Wilderness Area, and a multitude of recreational opportunities, along with an active and colorful downtown.

Understand edit

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Though it's physically part of the Rocky Mountains region, culturally Missoula identifies closely with the Pacific Northwest. Home to the University of Montana and often considered by residents as the most liberal city in Montana, it's an interesting mix of ranchers, cowboys, hippies, yuppies, students, artists, athletes and recreationalists. Graduates from the University of Montana frequently remain in Missoula, creating a large over-qualified work force. A local barista or cook may have, at the very least, a Bachelor's degree.

Get in edit

By plane edit

1 Missoula International Airport (MSO  IATA) (along US Hwy 10 (W Broadway) which parallels I-90, 7 mi (11 km) northwest of Missoula and is accessed via Airway Blvd from I-90 at Exit #99.).    

The following airlines offer year-round service:

The following airlines come seasonally or part of the year:

There are taxis, rideshare and hotel shuttles to bring you into town locally. There are also car rentals available from the airport which is the preferred method for greater flexibility in getting around to the surrounding areas. See this Link for a list of taxi and shuttle providers. The #11 bus connects the airport with the downtown Lewis & Clark Transit Center.

By car edit

  There are five exits from Interstate 90 (I-90), Airways Blvd (Exit #99); the Grant Creek Blvd exit (Exit #101); Orange St (Exit #104); Van Buren St (Exit #105); , and East Missoula (Exit #307). The Van Buren St exit is the closest exit to access downtown and the University of Montana campus while the Airways Blvd is the closest to the airport.

Missoula is 118 mi (190 km) west of Butte (Jct I-15 with I-90); 203 mi (327 km) west of Bozeman; 165 mi (266 km) east of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and Spokane, WA another 30 mi (48 km) west of Coeur d'Alene all along I-90.

By bus edit

  • 2 Jefferson Lines, (bus depot) 1660 W Broadway (W Broadway & Sherwood), +1 406 549-2339, toll-free: +1-800-451-5333. Travels primarily on Interstate 90 between Spokane and Billings (via Coeur d'Alene, Kellogg, St Regis, Missoula, Butte, Belgrade/Bozeman and Livingston). Passengers transfer in Butte, Billings, Bozeman and Spokane to get to additional destinations.
  • Flathead Transit, (Jefferson Lines/Greyhound bus depot) 1660 W Broadway. Bus operated by the Confederated Salish & Kootnai Tribes with the help of Montana Department of Transportation in partnership with Greyhound Lines (as booking agent) for travel up to Whitefish through Avaro, Arlee, Ravalli, St Ignatius, Pablo, Paulson, Lakeside and Kalispell along US Hwy 93. $31 one way.

The #11 bus and the #2 bus connect the bus station with the downtown Lewis & Clark Transit Center. Only the #11 (northbound on Broadway) goes up to the airport.

Get around edit

Map of Missoula
Overview of the Missoula city center

Visitors to Missoula often remark that the city is hard to get around in by car, a fact Missoulians famously owe to conflicting city engineers at the turn of the century. The confusing roadways make the Mountain Line city bus system a great way to get around -- but with a little orienting, the city can be much more easily navigated.

  • Higgins Avenue runs from downtown in the northern end of town through the outskirts of the tree-lined streets of the university district until it takes a sharp curve to the west in the south end of town, leading mainly to residential areas.
  • Broadway Street runs east to west, mostly along the Clark Fork river, from Van Buren, entrance to the Rattlesnake Recreation Area and the hippest place to live in town, through downtown before bisecting with Highway 93 and continuing on to the airport and I-90.
  • Orange Street runs through downtown and another treed residential area before intersecting with Brooks Street.
  • Brooks Street begins as Highway 93 from Lolo to the south of Missoula before turning into Brooks Street, a major shopping area populated with strip malls, fast food restaurants and the like, before dead ending into Higgins in a particularly confusing no-right-turn intersection.
  • Russell Street runs north - south from Broadway to 39th, through residential, industrial and business districts, but is a main roadway for motorists.
  • Reserve Street runs from I-90 to 39th from the north - south, crossing Broadway, 3rd Street, South Avenue and Brooks Street before dead ending. Major box stores, such as Target and Wal-Mart, as well as movie theaters, restaurants and other businesses line the thoroughfare.

See edit

Geographically, Missoula is dominated by the scenic Clark Fork river that flows through downtown and the mountains ringing the city. The Kim Williams Trail, which follows the waterfront, is an easy way to appreciate the former. Tubing, rafting, and canoe/kayaking are also good options in the summer.

Mt. Sentinel, on the east side of town, offers a scenic trail system. A trail starting at the University of Montana leads 700 feet up the mountainside to the "M," which offers great views of the city. More adventurous hikers may continue another 1400 feet to the peak of Mount Sentinel, which offers great views of the city, the Rattlesnake Wilderness to the north, and Mount Jumbo to the north. Those with binoculars may perceive the ancient shoreline of Lake Missoula on Mount Jumbo, marking the edge of an enormous ice-age lake. One can also take the trail off the backside of Mt. Sentinel, which zig-zags down crossing the parasailing jeep road a few times to a sign which shows the lovely trail down thru forest on Sentinel's north side that ends at the old railroad tracks, now the Kim Williams hike/bike trail, and then back to the parking lot at the "M" trails base. Doing the loop in reverse is also very pleasant.

Manmade scenic attractions include the Missoula carousel in Caras Park, the historic courthouse with eight original murals by E.S. Paxson, and several fine art galleries. Lastly, if you enjoy history, both of Missoula's historic railroad stations still stand, preserved, and in use. One, built by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad is used by the Boone & Crockett Club and the other built by the Northern Pacific Railway is used as office space by local businesses and home of the Missoula Farmer's Market during the summer months.

  • 1 Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, 3400 Captain Rawn Way, +1 406 728-3476. Sep-May: Tu-Su noon-5PM; May-Aug: M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Explore the 32-acre park and museum showcasing Missoula area history. Museum features rotating exhibits. Over 20 preserved historic buildings of the fort and World War II internment camp. Walking tour of the fort always available and free. Come in late April for the annual forestry day to watch professional competitors in timber sports like log rolling and speed climbing. If you've never watched these lumberjack events, they are incredibly fun spectator sports.
  • 2 Missoula Art Museum, 335 N Pattee, +1 406 728-0447. Tu W 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-7PM, F Sa 10AM-5PM. Worth a visit. Knowing that it could never outbid its big-city counterparts for works by famous artists, the museum has instead hosts regularly-rotated exhibits of Western art and works closely with community arts groups. Furthermore, the price is right for visitors, as demonstrated by its slogan: Free Expression, Free Admission. free.  
  • 3 Missoula Paddleheads, 700 Cregg Ln, +1 406 543-3300. See website for current season schedule. Enjoy a Pioneer League baseball game at Orgren Park at Allegiance Field.    
  • 4 Montana Museum of Art & Culture, at the University of Montana, 32 Campus Dr; collections held in multiple buildings, check website for current locations, +1 406 243-2019, . Rotating permanent collection and outside artwork. Website has a campus artwalk map. Free.    

Do edit

Missoulians enjoy a range of outdoor activities including hiking, rafting, "tubing", rock climbing, skiing, fishing, golfing, and just about any other activity that can be done outside. It's no wonder—in Missoula you can take a city bus to within walking distance of federally designated wilderness area. After hiking and returning to town, you can visit the historic downtown and enjoy some fantastic local food and drink.

Summer cultural events include: the International Choral Festival, the River Roots Music Festival, Farmer's markets (three) every Saturday morning. Music and food festivals at Caras Park (off Higgins on the banks of the Clark Fork) Wednesday lunches and Thursday evenings and the Western Montana Fair in August.

Snowbowl, at 7,600 ft (2,300 m), is a great place to ski that is very affordable.

Year-round 'First Friday' finds art galleries open to strolling passersby with music and food offered for free.

The public library on Main Street has special talks and presentations, about Montanan history, for example. There is also a movie 'Cheap date' night with popcorn and a drop-in Scrabble Club Monday evenings.

  • 1 Acton Square Dance Center & Campground, 9955 Lolo Creek Road (Hwy 12) Lolo (2.5 miles west of Lolo on Hwy 12). Campground and RV park. Square dancing with nationally known callers and cuers. See webpage for schedule.
  • 2 Blue Mountain Disc Golf, Blue Mountain Rd (Take either Hwy 365 east or River Pines Rd west to intersect the street). 18 holes of disc golf on a very hilly, wooded course. Cross the street to take the Maclay Flat Nature Trail. For a beginner course try Meadow Hill Middle School (4210 S Reserve St). Free.
  • 3 Fort Missoula Regional Park, 3250 Fort Missoula Rd, +1 406 552-6000. City park and sport complex. There are tennis courts, pickleball courts, outdoor fitness center, lawn volleyball, disc golf at this 156-acre park. Plus 3 playgrounds and a dog park.
  • 4 Pattee Canyon Recreation Area, County Rd 533 (7½ miles SE of town, off Pattee Canyon Rd, look for sign), +1 406 329-3814. Open year-round during daylight. Extensive trail system covering 27 miles is open to any non-motorized use. Used by cross-country skiers in winter. Nearby disc golf course. Picnic area with vault toilets, but no water, at trailhead. Free.
  • 5 Splash Montana, 3001 Bancroft (In Playfair Park), +1 406 542-WAVE (9283). Jun-Aug. City owned waterpark. Three 3-story waterslides, lazy river, play structures plus Olympic sized pool. Café and grill. $4.25-8.

Buy edit

Thanks largely to the city's vibrant arts community, the downtown offers a wide variety of unique shops. Visit on a Saturday between May to October if possible, when there is a street and farmer's market stretching across downtown Higgins Ave.

The best stores feature local goods from Montana artisans.

  • Worden's, 451 N Higgins Ave. Downtown Missoula, one of the best places to buy obscure, diverse, and pretty much any beer you could possibly want.
  • Rockin' Rudy's, 237 Blaine St. Near the Hip Strip, this is a local curio store, selling a wide variety of gifts and souvenirs including vinyl records and CDs, handmade jewelry, clothing and gag gifts.
  • The Sports Exchange, 1320 S. Third St. W.. The Sports Exchange Missoula is a long-trusted purveyor of quality second-hand sporting goods.
  • Southgate Mall, 2901 Brooks St. Missoula's only indoor shopping center, Southgate Mall is home to many great shops and local restaurants. Games, shopping, and great food can all be found here.

Eat edit

  • #1 Gyros. Run by a Greek family, #1 Gyros can be quite crowded around lunch time. Tasty french fries.
  • The Bridge. Unusual pizzas sold by the slice. $2.50-3.50 a slice.
  • El Diablo. Another excellent burrito restaurant. Burritos cost around 7 bucks, but worth it. The only burrito shop in town that cooks their meat fresh.
  • The Good Food Store. Missoula's answer to Whole Foods. Sells natural, organic, and specialty foods in its grocery store and includes a small deli serving prepared meals.
  • The Iron Horse. Modern restaurant with good American food (expect to pay $7-10 for lunch dishes and $15-20 for dinner) that turns into a popular sports bar at night.
  • 1 Lolo Creek Steak House, Highway 12 West, Lolo (Hwy 12 West or US 93 South 10 miles to Lolo, turn right on Hwy 12 west, about 200 m on the right), +1 406-273-2622. Great steaks, in Lolo on the Lewis and Clark trail. $15.
  • The Old Post. Great food, great microbrews, great live music, and terrible lighting--this place has "atmosphere" written all over it. Excellent vegan and vegetarian dishes. Try the weekend brunch. The lunch-only "Reccession Special" is a local favorite.
  • The Oxford, 337 N Higgins Ave, +1 406 549-0117. 24 Hours. Diner style food in a business continuously open for so long that it prides itself on having lost its keys. Friendly staff, live poker, and cheap drinks. The chicken fried steak with JJ's gravy is amazing. Those looking for an authentic Missoula experience should check out this place. $8-10.
  • Scotty's Table. An American bistro. French bistro in the heart of Missoula. Indoor and outdoor (seasonal) seating on the park level of the historic Wilma Building
  • Taco Del Sol. Large $5 burritos. Where many of locals grab a quick bite.
  • Taco Sano. Locally owned burrito shop, good combination of value and quality. Dubbed Taco Sysco, after the name of the food distribution company the restaurant gets its frozen meat from.
  • Wordens Deli. Full-service deli, coffee, wine, and groceries. Missoula's first grocery store, Wordens opened in 1883 and has been a Missoula staple ever since. Wicked Philly is a local favorite.
  • 2 Burns Street Bistro, 1500 Burns Street, +1-406-543-0719, . M–F 7:30AM-2PM, Sa Su 9AM–2PM. A very interesting combination of local, seasonal, creative cuisine with a low-key, high-volume style. Expect a long wait in line for weekend brunch. Order at the counter. Find a seat among the plain-wood tables in the bright, warehouse-like dining room. Pour yourself some water, and enjoy the aromas until your plate is brought to you. Extensive vegetarian and vegan options. Brunch entrees $8.
  • Golden Yolk Griddle, 200 W Pine St, +1 406 926-1145. M-F 7AM-2PM, Sa 9AM-2PM. Breakfast and lunch.

Drink edit

  • 1 Black Coffee Roasting, 201 E Main, +1 406 541-3700, . M-Sa 7AM-2PM, closed Su. Organic coffee from around the globe. Roasted locally.
  • 2 Drum Coffee, 600 South Ave W, +1 406 721-3786, . Daily 7AM-3PM. Baker making items in-house. Locally roasted coffee. Has second location at 1000 E Broadway.
  • Liquid Planet. A very unique all-beverage store and organic coffee shop with a one-of-a-kind 10 foot high wooden globe that houses wine.
  • 3 Lumberjack Saloon (Jack Restaurant & Saloon), 2000 Graves Creek Road, Lolo (follow Hwy 12 West from Lolo, towards Idaho, about 16 miles, turn right on Graves Creek Rd. about 1.3 miles), +1 406-273-6264. Great saloon in Lolo National Forest. $10.
  • 4 Plonk Wine, 322 N. Higgins Ave, +1-406-926-1791, toll-free: +1-406-926-1793, . Daily 3PM–after midnight. A fun, delicious hip restaurant in an art-filled brick dining room. The roof patio is a cool and pleasant retreat on hot days. An extensive list of wines by the glass. Good vegetarian options. Entrees $15-30.

Microbreweries edit

Missoula has a large selection of microbreweries. Most have limited hours and can only serve 3 pints due to tasting room regulations in Montana.

  • 5 Bayern Brewing, 1507 Montana St, +1 406 721-1482. 11AM-8PM daily. Specializes in German lagers. Edelweiss Bistro offers food on-site.
  • 6 Big Sky Brewery, 5417 Trumpeter Way, +1 406 549-2777. M-Sa 11AM-8PM, Su noon-6PM. Distributes to multiple states. Their most famous brew is called "Moose Drool", but all are good. Visit the taproom for specialty brews not distributed elsewhere.
  • 7 Conflux Brewing, 210 N Pattee, +1 406 926-3589. Tu-Sa noon-9:30PM. Located downtown with outdoor seating, balcony views. Large space. Southern inspired food menu.
  • 8 Cranky Sam Public House, 233 W Main St, +1 406 540-4325. Noon-close daily. Fresh beers and curated wine list. 8 flagship beers. Rotating food trucks or bring in food from wherever. Live events.
  • 9 Draught Works Brewing, 915 Toole Ave, +1 406 541-1592, . Noon to 9PM, no pint sales after 8PM. Local brewery making mostly ales. Also has rootbeer and ginger ale. Brewing is done right behind the main bar so patrons can watch. Has patio and features local bands.
  • 10 Highlander TapHouse, 200 International Dr, +1 406 549-8193. Daily, Noon to 8PM. Outdoor seating right by Grant Creek. 12 craft beers on tap, live music, pizza.
  • 11 Kettle House, 5225 W Broadway. noon-8PM daily. A much smaller neighborhood brewery, with excellent beers as well. Their Cold Smoke Scotch Ale can be found in most Montana bars.

Wine edit

Missoula wineries include:

Sleep edit

  • 1 Goldsmith's Bed and Breakfast, 803 E. Front St, +1 406 728-1585, toll-free: +1-866-666-9945, . Located on the banks of the Clark Fork River. Missoula's oldest, and original B & B. Across the river from the University of Montana Campus, 6 blocks from Downtown. Original 1910 home, saved from demolition in 1989 and fully restored. Full breakfast, Wi-Fi, cable. Three Diamond AAA rating, member Montana B and B Association.
  • 2 Blue Mountain B&B, 6980 Deadman Gulch Road, +1 406 251-4457, toll-free: +1-877-251-4457, . Bed and breakfast, nestled on the mountainside among Ponderosa Pines and meditative water gardens.
  • 3 C'Mon Inn, 2775 Expo Parkway, +1 406 543-4600, toll-free: +1-888-989-5569, fax: +1 406 543-4664.
  • 4 Doubletree Missoula Edgewater, 100 Madison, +1 406-728-3100. Sits directly across the Clark Fork River from the University of Montana with a view of the mountains. Contains a restaurant, the Finn and Porter, which serves fresh steaks, seafood, and chops.
  • 5 La Quinta Missoula, 5059 N. Reserve St, +1 406 549-9000.
  • 6 Blossom's Bed and Breakfast, 1114 Poplar St, +1 406-721-4690. Bed and Breakfast is a completely restored 1910 Crafstsman home close to the Univrsity and Downtown. B&B features full breakfast made with organic food where possible, fireplace, close to hiking trails, bicycles, Wi-Fi, and billards.
  • 7 Holiday Inn Missoula, 200 S Pattee St, +1 406-721-8550, toll-free: +1-877-863-4780. In downtown Missoula, next to Caras Park and the Clark River, and close to the University of Montana. As a full-service hotel, HI Missoula offers an indoor pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant.
  • 8 Broadway Inn Conference Center, 1609 West Broadway, +1 406 532-3300, toll-free: +1-800-286-2316, fax: +1-406-728-1930. At the corner of West Broadway and Russell Street.
  • 9 Shady Spruce Hostel, 204 E Spruce St, +1 406 285-1197, . Missoula's only hostel. Kitchen, on-site storage, free Wi-Fi, and guest computer available. Dorms $35+, privates $55+.
  • 10 Citilodge Suites & Motel, 1135 W Broadway St. The Citilodge suites has 43 comfortable and clean rooms. It is 4.7 mi away from the Missoula International Airport. $63.

Go next edit

Missoula's immediate surroundings offer a wide array of activities for all seasons, including the outdoor recreation afforded by vast tracts of public lands, the Old West flavor of several nearby ghost towns, several ski slopes, and a range of unique Montana businesses.

Hot Springs edit

  • About 40 minutes' drive southwest of Missoula, the Lolo Hot Springs offer two pools fed by geothermal springs: an outdoor swimming pool and a hotter (110-116 °F) indoor soaking pool. The springs are clothing-optional after 9PM on Wednesday and Sunday nights.
  • More adventurous soakers may prefer to hike out to some natural hot springs just across the Idaho border (about an hour from Missoula). Driving from Montana, the Jerry Johnson hot springs' trailhead will be the first. The trailhead is clearly marked--watch for a suspension bridge crossing the river to your left. The springs themselves are less than a mile hike in, and are large enough to accommodate a couple of dozen people. These springs are also clothing optional. If the springs are packed, as they often are, try hiking a quarter-mile further down the trail to two smaller hot springs.
  • Weir Hot Spring is a smaller hot spring about five miles further down the road from Montana. It is about a mile in on a narrow and hilly trail, which can be treacherously icy in the winter and spring. Although the drive is longer and the hike harder, visitors to Weir are compensated by smaller crowds than at Jerry Johnson. In addition, the Forest Service allows camping at Weir, unlike at Jerry Johnson.

Skiing edit

Pattee Canyon has Nordic ski trails groomed regularly when there's enough snow by the missoulanordic.org club, for skating and classic techniques with mostly easy flat terrain, though its often icey.

Lolo Pass, 45 miles southwest of Missoula, has good Nordic Ski trails groomed Saturday/Sunday early mornings by the Clearwater National Forest contractor, which offer excellent classic and skating tracks. Theres also a warming hut and a staffed lodge at the pass.

Other sites edit

  • Garnet Ghost Town, about an hour's drive east on MT-200, is the closest significant ghost town to Missoula. Maintained by the Bureau of Land Management in a state of suspended decay, the small mining camp of Garnet is an open-air museum of gold rush life on the frontier. It is only accessible by car during the summer and early fall, but two cabins in the town are rented through the winter to adventurous skiers or snowmobilers.
  • Glacier National Park is three hours' drive north on US-93.
Routes through Missoula
Coeur d'AleneSuperior  W   E  GarrisonButte
Lewiston ← Orofino ←  W   E  GarrisonHelena
KalispellRavalli  N   S  HamiltonSalmon
SandpointRavalli  W   E  → Jct   NSun RiverGreat Falls

This city travel guide to Missoula is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.