Missoula, Montana, offers a lot of fun activities for people who love the outdoors or who are into history. While there, take the time to learn about Glacial Lake Missoula and the ice age floods, a geologic event that shaped a good chunk of the Northwest and established the unique soil conditions for the Northwest's world-class vineyards. Missoula is an active community whose residents enjoy getting outdoors, experiencing art and music, and gathering together at fairs and festivals.
Hike to the "M" on Mount Sentinel
The big white "M" on the west-facing slope of Mount Sentinel is one of Missoula's major landmarks. That "M" is in honor of the University of Montana, which lies at the base of the little mountain. The switchback trail covers 3/4 of a mile before you reach the "M". If you're feeling energetic, you can hike an additional mile to the top of Mount Sentinel. Either way, you'll enjoy great views of the UM campus, the town of Missoula, and the Bitterroot Mountains.
Caras Park, located between Missoula's downtown and the Clark Fork River, is a major community gathering place. The Riverfront Trail, popular with walkers and bikers, passes through Caras Park. The park is particularly family friendly, offering fishing and picnicking as well as a carousel and the Dragon Hollow play area. A number of festivals and concerts are held in the park throughout the year.
Annual Events & Festivals in Missoula
Missoula finds all kinds of reasons to get together and celebrate. Here is a sample of Missoula's fun annual events and festivals:
- Garden City Brewfest (May)
- International Wildlife Film Festival (May)
- River City Roots Festival (August)
- Western Montana Fair (August)
- Montana Festival of the Book (October)
Outdoor Recreation in Missoula
Whether it's summer or winter, Missoula is a great base for the full range of outdoor recreation. In the warmer months of the year, you can enjoy hiking, biking, rafting, horseback riding, and golf. In the winter, you can choose from a number of ski mountains; snowmobiling and cross-country skiing are also popular. Birding, fishing, and wildlife watching can be enjoyed throughout in the year.
The grounds of historic Fort Missoula cover 32 acres and include something to appeal to a variety of interests, including history buffs, outdoor lovers, and flower gardeners. You can wander the property, checking out antique trains, old forestry and sawmill equipment, historic buildings, or an old fire lookout. The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula features exhibits on local and regional history, covering several eras.
While there, you can also visit the Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History. With lots of open lawns and picnic space, Fort Missoula provides a family-friendly outing. The 246-acre Fort Missoula Regional Park is being developed on land adjacent to the historic Fort Missoula grounds.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Visitor Center
You don't have to be a hunter to enjoy a stop at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's visitor center. Interesting exhibits provide information about elk, their habits and habitat, and the other wildlife that share their environment. While there, stretch your legs at the facility's outdoor nature trail.
Watch a Game
Missoula is home to loyal and enthusiastic sports fans. The University of Montana Grizzlies football team plays to a packed stadium at home games. Or you can take in one of the Grizzlies' men's or women's basketball games. During the summer, the Osprey, Missoula's Pioneer League professional baseball team are popular. The Missoula Maulers, Missoula's junior hockey team, are also fun to watch.
Missoula Art Museum
Located in Missoula's walkable downtown, Missoula Art Museum is partially located in an old Carnegie Library building. Contemporary art is the focus and can include paintings, photography, fine crafts, or sculpture. You can also enjoy a number of different classes, workshops, and events at the Missoula Art Museum.
Visit Wineries and Breweries
Take the time to stop at one or more of Missoula's wineries and breweries for a chance to enjoy great wine and beer, tasty food, and perhaps even live music.
- Mission Mountain - Tasting room open seasonally
- Lake Missoula Cellars - Tasting, food, and live music
- Lolo Peak Winery- Fruit and honey wines
- Big Sky Brewery - Enjoy a brewery tour by appointment, or visit the taproom
- The Kettlehouse - Visit the taproom for a pint of their microbrews
- Bayern Brewery - A German-style microbrewery
Smokejumper Visitor Center
Address5765 W Broadway St, Missoula, MT 59808-9361, USA
Located at the nation's largest smokejumper training base, the Smokejumper Visitor Center offers displays and video so that you can learn more about their dangerous but necessary work. While there, you can enjoy a guided tour of the facility.