A Californian’s Guide to Living in Montana

By Alexandra Kuchinski

If someone had come from the future four years ago and told me that I would be living in Montana in my early twenties I wouldn’t have believed them.  

As someone who grew up in the heart of a major metropolitan area less than 20 minutes walking from the beach I’m the last person that anyone would have expected to move to Missoula.  

However, with the incentive of a good scholarship, snowboarding and fly fishing I found myself drawn to this little mountain town.  

Although moving to Missoula hasn’t been without its challenges, through trial and error over the last 3 years, I’ve managed to learn a few things about the place that I now call home.

If you’re from any other state than Montana you will get poked fun at. 

Especially if you’re a Californian.

It is completely possible experience all the seasons in a 24 hour period—learn how to dress accordingly or you will get sick.

Where I grew up the most layers I ever needed were a winter and summer hoodie.  Most of the time they were the same hoodie. 

Winter weather is not bad until it there’s wind or the temperature is in the single digits.

Learn and embrace that 40 degrees is t-shirt weather.

Ice is real and you will fall on it in the wintertime no matter how much you penguin walk.

It builds character. 

Everyone knows each other.  Get over it. 

Despite it’s significant geographic size, it’s a small state.  While there are a fair amount of out of state students there are a ton more locals and most of the time they already know each other.  It’s a pretty small town and even smaller school.  Tread carefully.

The food will take getting used to

Salt and pepper will be the most spice that you see.  And although the number of places where you can get a bomb burger or pizza is uncountable the best Mexican food here is still Taco Bell.

The most you will ever dress up will be a nice t-shirt and cowboy boots

Welcome to the wild west

What I From Learned Driving in the Snow

Caroline Armstrong

Being raised in Seattle, Washington I did not get many opportunities to drive in the snow growing up. When it did snow, usually only 1-2 inches, everything shut down and people just simply stayed home – no need to drive! With the current snow storm hitting the Seattle area, I though I would share the valuable lesson I learned in 2015.

After high school I decided to go to college in Montana, and as most people know it snows quite a bit in Montana. My first year of college, I decided to drive back to Seattle for Thanksgiving with a few of my friends. It had just begun snowing the day before and I had a 4-wheel drive car so I figured everything should be OK.

I began my drive down I-90 West with a car full of gals, the snow was light and everything was going fine… well, for about 50 miles at least.

Coming around a slight curve at about 60 MPH (the Montana speed limit is 80 MPH) I felt my back tires starting to slide and just like that I had lost all control. My car spun around 3 or 4 times before slamming into a ditch and screeching to a stop. Shock. That’s all I felt. Silence. No one had said a word the whole time we were spinning and crashing. Immediately we all got out of the car to make sure everyone was OK and to examine the damage.

The airbags had deployed, I had a broken front axle, completely messed up front and back bumpers, two popped tires and two bent rims. But most importantly, no one was hurt. Luckily, my friends are much better at handling bad situations than I am because that is when it all set it. I could have killed myself and all my friends. Why? Because I was inexperienced. I didn’t know to slow down. I didn’t know to be on the lookout for black ice – what ended by causing the accident. I just didn’t know.

Driving when there is snow and ice on the road is unlike any other driving condition. Yes, you might have 4-wheel drive but that does not mean you have 4-wheel stop. The ice has a mind of its own and once you begin to slide it can be very hard to stop.

This winter, I beg of you to go slow in the snow. If you are an experienced snow driver, slow down. If you have never driven in the snow before, slow down. Even if the roads seem fine, slow down. It could save your life.

The Nonprofits You Need to Know Right Now -Missoula, MT Edition

Written by: Kayla Sheridan

The Missoula community has over 1,500 listed Nonprofit organizations.

As donors and volunteers, we want to spend our dollar and time on causes that produce the most significant welfare gains. However, many of us actually spend our resources on the causes that we care aboutCharity is exceptionally dependent on our own personal identities & Nonprofits help create a culture within communites.

The Nonprofit sector in Missoula has more organizations per capita compared to most other cities in the United States. The majority of these organizations work hard to both engage and educate individuals on issues and opportunities in the community. For the most part, Nonprofits strive to make positive change, provide a sense of community, and help individuals create an identity. Our Nonprofits in Missoula are essential in sustaining our unique community here!

Below are steps to help you find a Nonprofit you can support -I’ve included a link to the article further explaining these steps at the end of the post.

1)    Align Potential Organizations with Values
2)    Decide What Type of Do-Gooder You Are
3)    Research Online
4)    Fill Your Experience Gap
5)    Search Social Media
6)    Exercise Your Options

Nonprofits make change by bringing people together around a common goal. For anyone who needs to hear it, go find your Nonprofit community and help make our whole community a better place right now! In today’s tech-savvy world, it’s easier than ever to support your favorite Nonprofits.

Article link here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesnonprofitcouncil/2017/08/23/how-to-choose-the-right-nonprofit-to-donate-your-time-to/#6af567a39f10

Montana, It’s Not For You

By Madison Ueland

Montana, the 4th largest state in the United States, home to more cattle than humans, with the largest migratory elk herd in the nation, and record holder of the largest observed snowflake… probably isn’t for you.

If you didn’t know Miles City as the “cowboy capital” of the west or if you’ve never heard of the Bucking Horse Sale… Montana isn’t for you.

If you have to google what all goes into a “whiskey ditch” … Montana isn’t for you.

If you can’t handle all 4 seasons in one month, constantly adjusting the temperature in your car, or dressing in layers because of inconsistent weather… Montana isn’t for you.

If you’d rather stay inside instead of fishing, hiking, floating the river, of even draggin’ main… Montana isn’t for you.

If you don’t wave or smile to strangers in passing, hold the door open for the person behind you, or support the lemonade stand down the street… Montana isn’t for you.

If you’re not prepared to dig your car out of 1 foot of snow, drive 40+ miles to visit a friend, or stomp on the brakes to let the cows cross…. Montana isn’t for you.

If you’d rather see large buildings outside your window instead of mountains, pastures, fields, or even jaw- dropping sunsets… Montana isn’t for you.

If you’ve never heard of the “Brawl of the Wild” …  well….


Montana is a prideful state. A place that values the simpler things and respects tradition. But, it’s not for everybody. If you winced or questioned any of these points, Montana probably isn’t for you. 

However, if you’re up for experiencing some challenging weather conditions, exploring some of the most beautiful terrain, and getting to know some of the greatest people around, then Montana might be the place for you.

Glacier National Park: Visiting in Fall

Written by: Ellie Hanousek

Just 3 hours away from Missoula, Montana sits one of the most pristine and beautiful national parks in the west: Glacier National Park. Planning a weekend trip to GNP in the fall season can be a challenge with the park’s fast-changing mountain weather and wildfire conditions.

Although these can be tricky problems to work around, a visit to GNP during these unpopular times provides an experience unlike any other with minimal traffic, trails to yourself, access to abundant wildlife, and beautiful fall colors. Next time you are planning a trip to Glacier, consider a September or early October visit – you will not be disappointed! If you happen to find yourself in GNP during fall season, here are a few of the must-visit destinations:

Morning Coffee @ Many Glacier Lodge

Kick off the early morning after a night of camping at Many Glacier Lake Lodge. Grab a coffee at the lakeside coffeeshop run by world travelers and sit beside a roaring fire overlooking the lake.

Grinnell Glacier Hike

One of the most rewarding hikes on the east side of the park is Grinnell Glacier. This 7.5 mile out-and-back hike stretches along side bright blue glacial lakes and rocky cliffsides marked burnt orange mountain ash trees and alpine meadows. The trail climbs to a perched valley where you will find Upper Grinnell Lake, where the smallest remaining glacier sits in the park: Gem Glacier. The backdrop of Upper Grinnell Lake is called ‘the Garden Wall’ and is part of the continental divide.

Iceberg Lake

Located in prime bear habitat, it is common to see grizzly bears on the distant hillsides of this 10-mile hike. This moderately difficult hike to the lake includes small crossings over footbridges through alpine meadows. A family of moose inhabit the area surrounding IceBurg Lake and can be seen resting in the shade. If you are brave enough, go for a swim in the glacial waters!

Drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road @ Sunset

During peak season, The Going-To-The-Sun road leading to Logan Pass on both the West and East sides of the park is often the most crowded and trafficked road in the park. However, during fall evenings, the road is completely empty – meaning you can pull over, take photos, and view wildlife on your own time! Bring your binoculars to spot birds of prey, big horn sheep, mountain goats, and bear along the way.

Huckleberry Milkshakes @ Two Sisters Café

Treat yourself after a long weekend of hiking and sightseeing with a Montana famous huckleberry milkshake from Two Sisters Café in Babb, MT. This quirky and colorful restaurant makes a perfect pit stop on the way out of the park!