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About Missoula









A fertile valley hemmed in by mountains cradles Missoula, the cultural center of northwest Montana. The largest metropolis around (population 68,000) is the home of the University of Montana. In the aptly nicknamed Garden City, maple trees line the residential streets and the Clark Fork River meanders through the center of town; a 6-mile riverside trail passes the university en route to Hellgate Canyon. Missoula makes a good base for regional exploration by way of Interstate 90 east–west, U.S. 93 north–south, and numerous back roads.In 1860 French trappers dubbed this trading settlement the Hell Gate when they discovered bones and bodies in the canyon after a bloody battle between Blackfeet and other Native Americans. Settlers did not arrive until more than 50 years after the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled through the area. Gold speculators, homesteaders, and the coming of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1883 all helped establish the town.

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Things You Can't Miss

Summer Fun Abounds Downtown, Day or Night

Missoula’s urban center features Out to Lunch and Downtown ToNight, performing arts festivals with food and music at riverside Caras Park.

Summer Fun Abounds Downtown, Day or Night

Image Credit: John and Lisa Merrill/Corbis

So Much to Do, So Close to Town

Just four miles north of I-90, Rattlesnake National Recreation Area is treasured by local hikers, mountain-bikers, horseback riders and nature lovers.

So Much to Do, So Close to Town

Image Credit: Earl Walker / Alamy

The Clark Fork Runs Through Missoula’s Heart

Grab an inner tube and float the gentle rapids, or sit on the riverbank and watch the pro kayakers doing whitewater maneuvers at Brennan’s Wave.

The Clark Fork Runs Through Missoula’s Heart

Image Credit: Christian Sawicki/Getty Images

Relive the Old West on the Bitterroot River

The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula re-creates a 19th-century town in exhibits including a schoolhouse, a fire tower and a restored streetcar.

Relive the Old West on the Bitterroot River

Image Credit: John Elk III / Alamy

Land That Elusive Trout

Think fly-fishing is too hard? Local outfitters will teach you to cast for rainbows or cutthroats in some of the most pristine water in North America.

Land That Elusive Trout

Image Credit: iStockphoto

Boom Turned to Bust at Garnet Ghost Town

Gold once drew 1,000 residents to this remote site east of Missoula. Today, you can see relic miners’ cabins, a saloon, a hotel and a store.

Boom Turned to Bust at Garnet Ghost Town

Image Credit: Pete Ryan/Getty Images

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Must Reads Before You go


5 Things Not to Do in National Parks

by Rob Tallia

National parks and state parks are beautiful places to visit and go hiking. Maximize your fun by avoiding these common mistakes - like running out of gas or getting dehydrated.


5 Tips for Cheaper Air Tickets

Expand your search beyond one airline or city to find the cheapest and best deals on airline travel.


5 Great Train Journeys Across America

by Alexis Flippin

Amtrak offers scenic train journeys across America that reveal the majesty of the American landscape and glimpses of the heartland.


7 Scenic Highway Drives

by Bill Newcott

Travel tips for your next road trip — check out these recommendations for seven beautiful drives along interstate highways, from New York to California.

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