Julie Gardner
ERA Lambros Real Estate

3011 American Way
Missoula, MT 59808

Office: (406) 532-9233


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Missoula, Montana
Area Guide

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, the City of Missoula is a lively and cosmopolitan community.  Whether seeking a lifestyle intimately connected to natural beauty, ease of access to a plethora of outdoor recreation, a stimulating arts and entertainment fare drawn on access to a wide variety of university departments, or a family-friendly city with a multitude of thriving child-centered organizations, Missoula answers the call.  Missoula is the county seat of Missoula County, and one of the West’s most sophisticated smaller cities.  Once characterized by an economy built on forestry, Missoula’s main economic drivers today include its top-rated, regional medical facilities, the renowned University of Montana, and growing service and technology sectors.  Growth in the city is also highlighted by a number of notable new building projects –  the St. Patrick Hospital and Health Sciences Center, Caffe Dolce’s new neighborhood Italian bistro, First Interstate Bank’s flagship downtown building, and Garlington Lohn and Robinson’s fabulous new law offices are all projects that have enhanced the city recently.  Ongoing investment in Missoula is undoubtedly spurred in part by Missoula’s stellar location – second to none in the eyes of many Missoulians.  Located equidistance between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, as well as near two world-class ski resorts, and home to blue ribbon fishing and thousands of acres of public lands, Missoulians find plenty to do near home when the work day is over.   Fusing college town culture with small town convenience, urban amenities with natural beauty, and historical significance with a progressive mindset, Missoula is an amazing place to call home. To learn more about life in Montana, Missoula County or the City of Missoula, please visit:


Missoula Visitors & Convention Bureau

Missoula Travel Guide

Make It Missoula

Missoula Maps

Destination Missoula

Glacier Country Tourism Commission

Official Montana State Travel Information

Montana Territories—Missoula

Winter Montana- State Travel and Information


The settlement of the Missoula area has been traced back as far as 3,500 B.C., with many artifacts excavated that are estimated to date from the end of the glacial lake period 12,000 years ago. Native American Salish, Pend d’Oreille, Blackfoot, Kootenai and Shoshone tribes predominated in the area prior to European settlement, with the valley’s natural corridor through the mountains a site of conflict between native tribes and pioneers and travelers to the eastern Montana plains that were replete with herds of buffalo. French fur trappers dubbed the corridor Porte d’ Enfer, literally, “Hell’s Gate”, due to the amount of human bones from repeated ambush. The area remained named Hell Gate until 1866, when it was renamed. Members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition were the first known European-Americans to visit the Missoula area, stopping south of Missoula in the years 1805-1806. The region was not surveyed until the 1850’s, by Congressional request with the express purpose of the development of a transcontinental rail route. Washington Territory governor Isaac Stevens, in addition to surveying the region, negotiated the Treaty of Hellgate, wherein the Native American area tribes ceded their claim to the land to the United States government. Missoula, founded as Hellgate Trading Post in 1860, was renamed Missoula Mills in 1866—Missoula, from the Salish tribe name for the area’s Clark Fork River, Nemissoolatakoo, which translates roughly to “cold water” and Mills for the prosperous flour and sawmills that served as the settlement’s first industries. The original city was built on the site of present-day Missoula’s Frenchtown area, with the city’s base of operation moving to the modern location in 1864. Missoula’s wagon road enabled safe passage through the Rocky Mountains to the inland Pacific Northwest, facilitating the establishment of Fort Missoula in 1877. That same year, Missoula Mills was renamed Missoula; Fort Missoula ensured the settlement’s survival as a city. Unlike many western Montana towns, Missoula never experienced a “boom” following the gold rush, though the town did enjoy a period of rapid growth that tempered out by the early 1880’s. In 1883, the Northern Pacific Railway arrived in Missoula, once again spurring a period of growth and stimulating a logging and lumber economy. This period of economic development and the rise in population led to the construction of many of the historic buildings of the downtown district, many of the most recognizable of which were designed by the architect A. J. Gibson. Missoula, in an agreement with Helena, did not enter a bid to become Montana State’s capital city, instead choosing to become the home to the state university, established in 1893. In 1908, Missoula became the district and later regional, headquarters for the Forest Service of the United States, training smokejumpers since 1942. In addition to over 60 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Missoula is home to ten distinct and separate historical districts for exploration, enjoyment and education. The newest additions are the Westside Railroad District and Free Speech Corner, which commemorate the 1905 union Industrial Workers of the World and their struggle for free speech rights to coalesce timber, lumber and mining workers into a worldwide union. To learn more about Free Speech Corner, Missoula’s historical districts or buildings, nearby ghost towns, historical museums or destinations, please visit:

Missoula Historic Districts

Downtown Missoula
Lower Rattlesnake
East Pine Street
University Area
Fort Missoula
University of Montana Campus
Missoula County Fairgrounds

Montana Historical Society Press – Guide to Historic Missoula

Montana Historical Society – Historical Preservation, Missoula

National Museum of Forest Service History

Montana Natural History Center

Preserve America Community- Missoula, Montana

Historical Museum at Fort Missoula

Missoula Ghost Towns

Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History

Missoula Gold & Gem Mining

Museum of Mountain Flying

Montana Rail Link Railroad

Northern Rockies Heritage Center

Parks and Recreation

The city of Missoula is located at the bottom of what was formerly Glacial Lake Missoula. Floodwaters and the melting of glacial dams during the Ice Age contributed to the unique topography of the present-day region.  With the Missoula Valley at the geographic hub of five mountain ranges – the Bitterroot Mountains, Sapphire Range, Garnet Range, Rattlesnake Mountains, and Reservation Divide – and the confluence of the Clark Fork, Blackfoot and Bitterroot Rivers, Missoula is the perfect destination for both city-dwellers and outdoor enthusiasts. Year-round, the area is hospitable to a range of outdoor activities, such as skiing, hiking, biking, snowmobiling, ice skating,  hunting, mountain climbing, river rafting, mountain biking and fly fishing. Local wildlife and vegetation is typical of Missoula’s Rocky Mountain ecology: bald eagles, osprey, black bears and white-tailed deer populate the region, with winter “visitors” of elk and mule deer “vacationing” on Mount Jumbo. Missoula tributaries and rivers provide habitats and nesting territories for belted kingfishers, beaver, wood ducks, northern rough-winged swallows, killdeer, bank swallows and spotted sandpipers. Birdwatchers will also find an abundance of catbirds, song sparrows, a variety of warbler species, and pileated woodpeckers in the nature preserves and parks. Native vegetation include Montana’s state flower, the bitterroot, as well as shrubs and berry plants the Douglas hawthorn, chokecherries and western snowberries and wetland species of cattails and beaked-sedge. Missoula trees range from Montana state tree the Ponderosa Pine and White Alder to riparian sandbar willows and cottonwoods. Sportsmen and fishermen enjoy the variety of hunting game and plentiful fish of the area; westslope cutthroat and rainbow trout are plentiful in the coldwater rivers, while elk, deer, antelope, moose and big horn sheep are among some of the game that are legally hunted seasonally.  National recreation areas and national forests literally abutt Missoula, and two of the country’s most famous national parks – Yellowstone and Glacier – are less than four hours away.  Area state parks and city parks, too, are places where families or individuals can enjoy the outdoors and relax in the rugged natural beauty of Montana—many Missoula area destinations are also pet-friendly, so grab the leash and the ball when you pack for a visit. To learn more about how you can enjoy the great outdoors while in Missoula, please visit:

Golf Courses

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks

Five Valleys Land Trust

Clark Fork Coalition

Missoula Marathon


The King Fisher Fly Shop

Bitterroot National Forest

Lolo Forest and Rattlesnake National Recreation Area

Glacier National Park

Blue Mountain Recreation Area

Yellowstone National Park (4 hours drive time)

Montana State Parks

Beavertail Hill State Park

Clark Fork River State Park

Council Grove State Park

Fort Owen State Park

Frenchtown Pond State Park

Traveler’s Rest State Park

Lolo Creek State Park

Flathead Lake Islands and Wild Horse Island State Park

Painted Rocks Reservoir State Park

Blackfoot River State Park

Placid Lake State Park

Salmon Lake State Park

Missoula Parks and Recreation

Greenough Park

Missoula Parks Map

Outdoor Recreation in Missoula

Run Wild Missoula

Missoula Wildlife

Missoula Winter Sports

Missoula Camping Information

Missoula KOA

Rock Creek Miller Flats

Outdoor Recreation in Missoula

Missoula Hunting and Fishing Guides

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Montana Snowbowl

The Missoulian Angler

The Ranch Club

Missoula Watersports Guide

Zoo Town Surfers

10,000 Waves

MoBASH Skatepark

Missoula Mountain Biking Trail Guides

Adventure Cycling Association

Pet-Friendly Missoula

Attractions and Activities

Though Missoula’s roots began with lumbering and agricultural economies, the Missoula of today is one that revolves around education, government, healthcare, tourism and the service industry. Missoula’s progressive cultural climate is one of surprising diversity and sophistication for a city its size. A thriving arts scene, collegiate mindset and population of urban professionals, young and old contribute to the attractions, events and activities of the city of Missoula. Namedropped and referenced in works of literature by authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Norman Maclean, Stephen Frey, James Lee Burke, James Crumley, and Chuck Palahniuk, Missoula cheekily accepts the compliment offered by Maclean in his novel, A River Runs Through It: “The world is full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the further one gets from Missoula, Montana.” Equally influential in the scene, Missoula has served as home to bands and band members of Seattle grunge pioneers Green River, Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam, Silkworm, and Love Battery. Catch tomorrow’s next big band today at venues such as the Top Hat or Elbow Room, or search out new bands at Ear Candy or Rockin’ Rudy’s music shops. Art, music and theatre are prevalent throughout the city, with a number of art museums, galleries and theatrical venues, such as the Missoula Art Museum, Dana Gallery and historic Wilma Theatre to name a few. Missoula’s activity epicenter, however, is the Caras Park Pavilion, located in the bustling Downtown Missoula area, which is home to a number of some of the most interesting shops, bookstores, coffeehouses and fine dining destinations in Montana as well as a weekly farmer’s market. Amenities for families and children include numerous parks with water features, the Missoula Carousel, Families First Children’s Museum, the YMCA, and water parks Currents (indoor, year-round) and Spash Montana (seasonal operation). Shopping and dining opportunities abound—try Missoula’s “Hip Strip” and downtown boutiques, locally owned Southgate Mall, local breweries and coffeehouses, and dozens fabulous dining opportunities.  With everything from nightclubs and spas to world-class art galleries available, Missoula residents can keep their calendars as full as they choose.  Musical performances, theater events, dance recitals, art exhibits, book festivals, and crafts shows are available throughout the year. To learn about what Missoula has to offer, please visit:

Missoula Art Museum

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

National Bison Range

Carmike Movie Theater

Southgate Mall

Ten Spoon Winery

Caffe Dolce

Missoula Culture, Entertainment and The Arts

Missoula Art Galleries

Montana Museum of Art & Culture

Missoula Cultural Council

Historic Wilma Theatre

Missoula Art Museum

Dana Gallery

Missoula Public Library

Well-Off-Man Gallery

Missoula Symphony Orchestra

Missoula Attractions

Dragon Hollow

Currents Indoor Waterpark (year-round)

Playfair Park (Splash Montana seasonal water park)

A Carousel for Missoula

Families First Children’s Museum

Missoula Breweries, Wineries & Tours

Bayern Brewing

Big Sky Brewing Company

Kettlehouse Brewing Company

Missoula Shopping Guides

Downtown Missoula

Missoula Farmer’s Market

Missoula Saturday Market

Clark Fork River Market

Missoula’s Hip Strip


New residents, tourists, retirees and seasonal residents choose Missoula for its national parks and to enjoy its outstanding recreational opportunities. The events calendar our area has to offer draws more and more people to Missoula County daily—art, culture, literature, sports, athletics, nature, history and civic events make our area desirable as a place of both relaxation and excitement. Missoula is home to events as varied as the River City Roots Festival to the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Events representing the cultural, natural, historical, artistic, sporting and civic sides of Missoula’s community guarantee something for everyone to enjoy. From First Friday Gallery Nights and Artini to Hellgate Rollergirls derby bouts, GermanFest and the Western Montana Fair, there’s always something happening in Missoula. To find out what’s scheduled for your enjoyment, please visit:

Missoula Calendar of Events

Missoula Events

Events in Missoula

Missoula Community Events


Missoula Calendar

Missoula Chamber of Commerce Community Events Schedule

Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

Out to Lunch

Downtown ToNight


First Friday Gallery Nights


Western Montana Fair

River City Roots Festival

First Night Missoula

Garden City BrewFest

International Wildlife Film Festival

Parks & Recreation Kids Fest

YMCA Riverbank Run

The Moriarty Irish Open

The Missoula Phoenix

The Missoula Osprey

The Missoula Maulers

The Hellgate Rollergirls

University of Montana Missoula Athletics


Additional Resources

Addiction Resource

American Society of Addiction Medicine