Missoula is a vibrant and super friendly place filled with great activities. As an exchange student basically everything you do is new and exciting, but I wanted to highlight these five things. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
1.Hike the M. This is the number one thing to do whilst you are here. The views are spectacular and if you enjoy doing this, you’ll be tempted to try out the other hiking places in Missoula too.
2.Go watch a Griz game! American sports culture is something else and this is an experience you don’t get anywhere else. The atmosphere is amazing and the Grizz community is hilarious. And the best thing is that you have a variety of sports to choose from: football, soccer, volleyball, basketball…
3.Water sports. Rent a tube from rec center (uni students) or buy one, and then go float the Clark Fork river. If you are into different kind of water activities there’s plenty of rafting, canoeing and paddle opportunities. On a warm summer day there’s probably nothing better to do than this.
4.Build a bike! You can do this at the http://www.freecycles.org/ and I guarantee that that you’ll love it. You volunteer for 4 hours and then you get to make your own bike with the help of oh-so-wonderful volunteers. This place truly is a community.
5. Downtown events. Missoula has different kind of festivals, music events, brewery tours etc. You can find more about them here: https://www.missoulaevents.net/. Check at least Caras Park and Roots Festival. You will be able to access all these with you brand new bike too!
Think a little outside of peak season when camping.
I’m personally a fan of mid-May and September.
Consider backpacking. Yes, it is a bit more work but it is also 100% worth it.
Waking up to a backcountry sunrise is an unbeatable feeling.
Get your backcountry permit early! It is surprising how quickly these go and there are limited sites. If you’re unlucky and don’t get a permit you might be forced to find a different hike or abandon your backcountry plans altogether.
Check out apps like AllTrails
We went backpacking in the Mission Mountain Wilderness on the 4th of July and it was one of the best ideas we’ve had. There weren’t many people, the weather was perfect, and we were away from the National Park chaos.
Holidays like Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day are major camping holidays. Opt-out of the beer and think whiskey and backpacking. Look for trails that are more under the radar. There might be some like-minded people like you on the trail but far less then if you were to try to claim your stake on Seeley Lake or Flathead.
Be flexible! If a site seems too busy, don’t be afraid to look for a different one. Some of my favorite camping sites have been found after leaving a less exciting one behind.
Checking a map for a water source is a good way of finding a good site. Chances are that if it’s near a river or lake that it’ll come with a view as well.
Avoid geotagging on social media. If you like a site because there weren’t many people there, don’t expose it.
This might be controversial but I really do believe every little bit helps in preserving the things we love. It’s one thing to tell a few friends but if you have 1,000 followers on Instagram, you could possibly be telling around 1,000 people about this newfound gem. Mum’s the word
I also think part of the joy of camping comes from discovering new spots on your own. It has become too easy to look everything up, it’ll mean more to you if you find it yourself.