Nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Montana, Missoula is a hidden gem where urban lifestyle meets adventure. Completely surrounded by seven wilderness areas, this city is rich with culture and endless outdoor recreational activities. In no particular order, here are the 5 best things to do when visiting Missoula, MT.
#1 | FLOAT DOWN THE CLARK FORK RIVER
During the summer, floating down the Clark Fork River is one of the best ways to cool down and relax. Every day, hundreds of locals on tubes, paddleboards, and rafts pass through town enjoying the sunshine and clean air.
#2 | GRAB A DRINK AND PLAY SOME GAMES
GILD is a locally-owned brewpub that just so happens to have an awesome arcade in the basement. From pinball to board games, GILD has everything you need to start the night off right. Not to mention, they have some of the best-tasting beer and hard cider in town.
#3 | HIKE MOUNT SENTINEL
Going for a hike on Mount Sentinel is a favorite for people visiting Missoula, and for good reason. As you gain elevation, you are able to see the entire city and the vast valley that lies below. In the distance, you can see the Rattlesnake Wilderness and Snowbowl Ski Area (shown above).
#4 | SHRED SOME POWDER AT SNOWBOWL
If you happen to visit Missoula in the winter, be sure to check out Snowbowl Ski Area. Conveniently located only 12 miles from Missoula, Snowbowl offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the West.
#5 | TRY YOUR LUCK AT FLY FISHING
It wouldn’t be a trip to Missoula without a fishing excursion in the mix. Missoula is world-renowned for its trout fishing streams, with a variety of different species to hook into. There is an impressive number of outfitters to choose from, so take your pick and get out there!
Created in 1962, The Montana Snowbowl is what I would consider “Missoula’s Ski Resort.” Over the years, Snowbowl has remained almost exactly the same which is part of its charm. The resort still has a small-town feel despite the large crowds it draws. The most notable development in recent years opened this year with the addition of the Snowpark lift. Prior to this addition the resort catered more towards intermediate and advanced skiers with beginners sticking to cat tracks and a few easy runs. This addition is a great upgrade to the mountain, and I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for the mountain.
— Location —
Snowbowl is located 13 miles north of Missoula, Montana and is about a 25-minute drive from downtown Missoula. A paved road covers the first 8 miles, but the last five miles is a gravel road that can get a little treacherous if you aren’t properly prepared. Most vehicles traveling to Snowbowl should have four wheel drive and chains or snow tires in order to deal with the rough winter conditions.
— The Resort —
Snowbowl has lots to offer whether it is the mountain itself, food, gear, or lodging. At the resort you will discover three lifts, one t-bar, and one rope-tow which provides access to 950+ acres of skiable territory. All the chair lifts are two seaters and only one of the lifts begins at the base of the mountain which results in some long lines on weekend mornings but those crowds quickly disperse. The lodge itself contains two restaurants, The Last Run and The Double Diamond Café. Both of these restaurants have good food, plenty of seating, and a fireplace to warm up by. Snowbowl also has a rental shop for all the gear you might need, a ski school with fantastic instructors, and Gelandesprung Lodge. Gelandesprung is the available lodging above the rental shop and is essentially ski in/out lodging with different room layouts and a community hot tub. All in all, Snowbowl is a wonderful small town ski resort and one of the best parts about living in Missoula.
There are a ton of options for skiing within the western part of Montana, whether this be in our beloved home state, or one of our close neighbors. There is plenty of fresh powder to go around…
To Start off this list we are going to lay down a few guidelines. All of these ski resorts are within 200 miles of Missoula, and for those of you that were worried…They all sell beer as well.
The Montana Snowbowl (15 miles outside town) Snowbowl will always a special place in the hearts of Missoulians, for its close proximity to town, and your ability to go from class to the slopes in under 20 minutes. While Snowbowl may have its ups and downs, you can always count on good skiing when they get some fresh snow up in the bowls. Priced at $48 for a student day pass, it’s not going to break the bank too bad. But they make up for it with $4 beers in the lodge at the base
Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area (105 miles outside town)
Lookout pass ski area is known as the #1 Powder Place, and they definitely live up to that name. Lookout gets the most fresh snow out of all the resorts near Missoula, and for the most part, has pretty good weather. This resort is about an hour and 45 minutes from campus and never gets too crazy so you’ll always have a parking spot. A student day pass for Lookout will run you about $46, but the snow makes it worth it!
3. Discovery Ski Area (91 miles outside town)
Discovery ski area is located about an hour and a half from Missoula and will never let you down. With a really good mix of steep groomers and powder-filled trees, this resort is perfect for everyone. For those seeking a thrill, Discovery has an expert only backside of the mountain with some truly crazy runs. The only downfall of this resort is the road up to the lodge can get pretty bad, but you’ll always be able to find a ride up from the bottom. Discovery will run you about $50 for a day pass, but you’ll be able to go on a different run every time all day.
4. Lost Trail Powder Mountain (75 miles outside town)
Lost trail is another favorite among locals, for its close proximity to town and amazing snow. You can almost always count on fresh snow at lost trail, and when the Montana side is open it is absolutely mind-blowing. This resort is never too crazy, and it also has a hot spring just down the road for an after skiing relaxation break. A day pass will run you about $45 and you’ll be able to get food and beer at the base lodge for a pretty reasonable price.
5. Whitefish Mountain Resort (140 miles outside town)
Still known to many locals as “Big Mountain” because of the name change back in 2007, but none the less this mountain is absolutely insane. The most powder you can find in western Montana and offers some of the most diverse terrains. Even though this resort is pretty far from Missoula, it makes up for it with the beautiful views and the chance to go on an inversion day. A day pass will run you about $83 and that’s pretty steep for most college students, but a trick it to go buy 2 day passes for $120 from Costco.
6. Blacktail Mountain Ski Area (120 miles outside town)
Blacktail is known for having some serious terrain, with steep faces and ungroomed runs all over the mountain. This resort gets a good amount of powder and can definitely prove to be tough in some spots. With its close proximity to Whitefish, the resort is pretty easily accessible and doesn’t break the bank at $45 for a day pass.
The blog that brings you all my favorite adventures that I’ve experienced in Montana. Below, you will find all the information that I’ve used and what I’ve done throughout my time here. With all these adventures that I have experienced have made Montana one of my favorite places on earth.
Here is a list of my favorite adventures that I have experienced in Montana (Scroll down to find more information about them)
Hiking & Backpacking
Rock Climbing (Indoor & Outdoor)
Skiing & Snowboarding
Hiking and Backpacking
One of the best ways to experience this beautiful state is by hiking in the great outdoors. There are so many amazing places to explore including my all-time favorite, Glacier National Park. This national park is located in the north-western part of the state and it extends up into Canada. I’ve traveled to Glacier many of times and every journey has been more beautiful than the last.
Here is the website where you can find a ton of information if you’re interested in taking a trip up there any time soon.
Freestone Climbing gym is the best climbing gym in Missoula. I love going there after my classes to free my mind with some climbing. It’s got awesome people and enough routes that will keep you coming back for more day after day.
Here is their website, go check them out if you like to climb!
Montana has some of the best whitewater kayaking in the country. This is where I learned to kayak a few years ago and it will always hold a special place in my heart. One of my favorites, and usual after class run, is the Alberton Gorge section of the Clark Fork River. This is an amazing section of class III-IV rapids just 30 minutes west of Missoula. There is also the Blackfoot River that is just north of Missoula that offers great scenery and whitewater in the spring.
Here is where you can find more information on my favorite run as well as the current flows for this section.
There is a reason so many people come to Montana for the mountains. THE SKIING IS UNREAL. From the local Snowbowl just 20 minutes north of Missoula to the massive Big Sky Resort a few hours away there is enough powder to go around. These are 2 of my favorite places to ski, yet there is so many more places out there that I’m excited to go explore.
I just started mountain biking around Missoula last year, and I have no idea why I didn’t start a lot earlier! Not only is it a great leg workout but it is a blast to go out and explore the single tracks throughout the mountains. My favorite trials start from Sawmill Gulch just up the street from where I live in the Rattlesnake Recreational area.
Here is a great website with tons of information on trails just outside of Missoula!
From cool summer nights to frigid winter days hot springs are a great choice for an adventure. There are awesome hot springs spread out all over Montana. My favorite one has to be the Boiling River hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. If you haven’t been there, it is a MUST if you live in, or are even passing through Montana.
Here is a website that has information about all the hot springs in Montana.
I grew up loving the outdoors just outside of Portland, OR. While growing up my parents always took me and my two brothers out to go skiing and hiking along with many other adventures throughout my life, and because of this I began to have a deep appreciation for everything around me. This made it a very easy decision when I was comparing colleges all over the country. I have to say moving to Montana to attend the University here in Missoula, MT has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have only widened my appreciation for nature and all the things you can go do in this life. I can’t wait to go on more adventures in the future and I can only hope to see you out there!