Outdoor Activities in Missoula, Montana

Fly Fishing – Norman MacLean’s famous fly fishing novel, A River Runs Through It is actually based on the serenity of fly fishing in Missoula, Without question, your time here will be enriched if you spend a few hours on the river casting and floating with these professionals. There’s something almost Zen-like about this sport – you’re fully present, yet simultaneously a million miles away from the worries of the world. If ever there were a term for what a vacation should feel like, it just might be fly-fishing.

And with three rivers to choose from – the Blackfoot, Bitterroot, and the Clark Fork of the Columbia – as well as Rock Creek, famous for its blue ribbon fishing, you have an almost endless selection of stretches to explore. The angling is so good here, in fact, that Forbes Magazine recently named Missoula one of North America’s top ten trout fishing towns.

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Kayaking– Missoula and kayaking go so well together, we made waves to practice on in the heart of downtown. On the Clark Fork River just outside the Caras Park pavilion is Brennan’s Wave, constructed in memory of a Missoula kayaker. There are plans to complete a second wave just a few yards from Brennan’s to up the action. On almost any evening, a passer-by can watch kayakers, surfers and paddleboarders attempting the wave and even performing tricks. Missoula has hosted the U.S. Freestyle Kayaking Championships and multiple other kayaking competitions are held here each year.

Whitewater Rafting – A favourite of locals, Alberton Gorge is just 45 miles west of Missoula on the Clark Fork River. This Class III white-water run is high adventure, with five rollicking rapids. It wends its way through thick forests and cool rock formations and has plenty of sandy beaches perfect for lunch or just kicking back. Be on the lookout for bald eagles and osprey. Local outfitters offer both half- and full-day adventures on the Gorge.

If you’re one of those “go big, or go home” kind of people, consider the Lochsa. The Lochsa River serves up a mix of Class II, III and IV rapids – we’re talking 25 Class IV rapids! – with very little break or float in between. This is a full-day, adrenaline-pumping, heart stopping adventure that is sheer bliss. The Lochsa white-water season runs from late April to late June, with peak flows during the latter part of June. Yee-haw.

If you like the idea of rafting but could do without the rapids, not to worry, there are plenty of easy-living, floatable stretches on all three of our local rivers. Again, local guides will be more than happy to set you up on a full- or half-day outing.

Hiking – Hiking in Montana is possibly the only thing that can go on forever. Endless mountain trails and paths lead into deep hidden valleys and lakes that are just begging to be discovered. Wildlife and beautiful scenery are just a couple of the things that you will find hidden away in Missoula’s surrounding mountains. You can also find things here that are less tangible; Peace, freedom, serenity, and happiness.

From the top of Mount Sentinel to the top of Snowbowl, Missoula offers plenty of hiking options and ranges. Get out and explore the Lolo National Forest and the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area on foot or on bike.

Shopping – A great part about shopping in Montana is, we have no sales tax. Missoula boasts three distinct shopping areas, each with a variety of shops and goods. Here’s hoping you packed an extra – not to mention empty – suitcase!

Downtown, you’ll find delightful stores, boutiques and galleries offering clothing, gifts, jewellery and other goodies. Southgate Mall has more than 100 specialty and name brand stores including the Dillard’s, Sears, Herberger’s, Coldwater Creek, Gap, Eddie Bauer, Chico’s, JC Penney, White House/Black Market, and Bath and Body Works. And North Reserve Street is home to stores such as Target, Best Buy, Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Home Depot, Lowes, Barnes & Noble, Costco and Super Wal-Mart.

Check out a Local Brewery – Missoula has a booming craft beverage business. Many of the taprooms are located downtown, while others are an easy drive. Know that in Missoula, as a lover of beer, you have no shortage of delicious options, and will never be alone here where the beer flows as steady as the Clark Fork River.

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