5 Best Tourist Attractions in Missoula, Montana
The great city of Missoula sits near the edge of the western border of Montana and is approximately 45 miles from Utah. It’s the second-largest city in the state and sits along the Clark Fork River. It’s called the “Hub Of Five Valleys” due to its proximity to the Garnet Range, Rattlesnake Mountains, Sapphire Range, Bitterroot Mountains, and the Reservation Divide. Car rentals are popular, and with all of the scenic beauty surrounding Missoula, it has become one of the hottest destination spots for outdoor enthusiasts in Montana. Here are a few attractions you don’t want to miss when vacationing in Missoula.
1 – Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is one of the most scenic natural wonders you can visit in the United States. The park is full of pristine lakes and colorful wildflowers that are a sight to see. With over 700 miles of hiking trails, it’s perfect for seasoned hikers and first-time tourists. Hikers can enjoy expansive views of the mountains and grassy mountain slopes and even see bighorn sheep and mountain goats grazing in the valley.
If you’d like to see everything that Glacier National Park offers, take a drive on the Going To The Sun Road. You can drive from one end of the park to the other on this road in about two hours. It’s the perfect way to soak in the natural beauty of Glacier National Park. While driving along the road, you’ll see everything from pastoral valleys to distant glacial lakes and wildlife. One of the most popular attractions on the drive is Logan Pass which is 6,000 feet in elevation and features a breathtaking view. It’s one of the highest points you can travel to by car and is the entry point to the Hidden Lake and Highline Trail hiking trails.
2 – Canyon River Golf Club
Canyon River Golf Club is a premier destination for professional and amateur golfers of all skill levels and ages. In 2010, 2015, and 2020, the Pacific Northwest PGA Championships took place at this prestigious club and attracted professional golfers from all over the globe. This well-maintained championship-level course features deep greenside bunkers, multi-tiered greens, tall grasses, pine trees, and tons of sandtraps. It’s a challenging course that’s fun to play and sure to please.
After enjoying a round of golf, you can relax in The Fox Den to indulge in a wide variety of food and beverages or visit one of the local breweries just a stone’s throw away from Canyon River Golf Club. The Bayern Brewing Company, Conflux Brewing Company, and the Tamarack Brewing Company are all within a 15-minute drive from the club. If you’re a fan of golf and love finishing off the day with a cold one, this is a no-brainer.
3 – Lolo National Forest
The Lolo National Forest is home to the northern portion of the Sapphire Mountains. Within its two million acres of forest, you will see elk, moose, mountain goats, black bears, grizzly bears, timber wolves, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and many other types of wildlife. Bald-head eagles, golden eagles, and trumpeter swans reside here, and there are close to 30 different species of ducks. In total, Lolo National Forest has 300 species of birds, 20 different types of fish, and over 60 mammals inside its borders.
If camping is something you enjoy, Lolo National Forest is home to the Seeley Lake Campground. At Seeley Lake, patrons can rent boats, canoes, and mountain bikes to explore the surrounding lakes and trails. It’s the perfect location for boating, swimming, water skiing, fishing, and bird watching. This campground has modern facilities with restrooms that are handicap accessible and drinking water. At $20 per night, this campsite is very popular with people who enjoy RV camping and tent camping. Each camping site comes with a fire ring and picnic table, and you can park your vehicle right next to your site.
4 – Montana Snow Bowl
For close to 60 years, the Montana Snow Bowl has attracted downhill and alpine skiers from all over the country. With its steep runs and vertical heights, skiers can expect one of the most exhilarating experiences in the Pacific Northwest. Located in the Lolo National Forest, the Montana Snow Bowl offers ski packages and lodging at the C’Mon Inn and Gelandesprung Lodge.
At the C’Mon Inn, guests can enjoy hot tubs, swimming pools for the adults and kids, and a waterfall inside the tropical courtyard. These luxurious accommodations include suites with private jacuzzis, gas fireplaces, and complimentary breakfast. The Inn also features a game room, business center, fitness center, and free internet & WiFi.
For a truly unique experience, you can book at the Gelandesprung Lodge. It has a European-style lodge that sits right at the bottom of the slope and features ski in and ski out capabilities. Shared and private baths are available, hot tubs, and kitchen facilities. If you’re frugal and looking to save some money, the discount lift tickets will make this a very affordable place to stay.
5 – Garnet Ghost Town
The town of Garnet has existed for more than two hundred years. Back in the 1800s, this was a place that miners migrated to with the dream of making life-changing profits by mining gold and other precious minerals. As the influx of miners increased, it became apparent that the free-floating goal did not exist in the amounts miners expected. Garnet’s infrastructure could not sustain that overwhelming growth and suffered the consequences.
With the passing of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1890, miners abandoned Garnet in mass for the more profitable mineral, silver. The government needed silver to mint coins and believed the act would boost the economy. But in 1893, that plan didn’t work out, and the price of silver dropped. As a result, there was a run on the United States gold reserve, and President Grover Cleveland repealed the act.
The crash in silver drove miners back to Garnet to search for gold. When Garnet was booming, it had 13 saloons and 20 mines and was the epitome of the wild, wild west. But in 1912, the town was devastated by fire, and by 1940 Garnet was abandoned and became a ghost town. Garnet is a must-see if you’re a history buff or enjoy visiting once-in-a-lifetime attractions.
The attractions listed in this article are just a few of the many gems that Missoula can offer to outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of history and culture. You can surf or kayak at the Clark Fork River, visit local breweries and vineyards, enjoy cultural icons such as the Wilma Theatre, the Missoula Art Museum, the Montana Natural History Center, or even take in a world-class symphony. Here in Missoula, you can discover a world you’ve never seen at an affordable price.
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