Outdoor Recreation Tips in Missoula

Outdoor Recreation Tips in Missoula

Summer, spring, winter or fall-- Missoula is a paradise for outdoor recreation. From fishing and floating in the summer months to skiing in the winter, and hitting the trails twelve months of the year, there is no shortage of outdoor recreation opportunities in gorgeous Western Montana. For visitors and locals alike, accessing the great outdoors can be a bit daunting when you are not sure where to start and want to be prepared, so we have put together some of our top tips for outdoor recreation in Missoula. Be sure to check conditions before heading out and always recreate responsibly.

Come Prepared

One of the great things about recreating in Missoula is the spontaneity of the natural world. You truly never know what the day holds or what views lie in wait around the next switchback. For this reason, it is best to always be prepared when recreating in Missoula.

Even in the summer, the weather can be unpredictable, so it is always best to pack layers to prepare from anything from the hot summer sunshine to the surprise snow shower. Summer thunderstorms are common, so always check the weather before heading out on the trails or rivers, and do your best to avoid the storms if at all possible (or at least be below tree line!).

Always bring water, sun protection, snacks and a map, and be sure to plan ahead and familiarize yourself with the area before taking off on your adventure.

Know the Rules and Regulations

It is important for your safety, the safety of others and the well-being of the wildlife and natural areas to know the rules of any area you choose to recreate and procure the proper permitting where required. Many of the lands and waters surrounding Missoula require (pass info here).

Missoula is a very dog friendly place, but some trials have strict leash rules or even no dog rules, so be sure to heed the posted signs for the safety of both the other patrons and your furry friend. As always, pack it in and pack it out and leave no trace.

All individuals age 12 and over need a Conservation License to access Montana state lands including fishing access sites, wildlife management areas, and wildlife habitat protection areas for all recreaton activities including fishing, hunting, boating, camping, hiking, walking, and so on. This is applicable for all residents and nonresidents. Resident passes cost $8 for adults and $4 for youths and seniors, and nonresident passes are $10. These must be renewed every year, with the permitting year running from March 1 through the end of February. Learn more about the Conservation License here and purchase yours here.

Be Wildlife Aware

Missoula is home to an abundance of wildlife in the hills, mountains and valleys surrounding our town. For this reason, it is important to be wildlife aware. Namely, black bears live in Missoula and many visitors feel more comfortable hiking with bear spray, a non-lethal aerosol spray that can deter bears in the event of an encounter.

Mountain lions also live in the hills and mountains surrounding Missoula, though these animal sightings are very rare. It is more likely that you will see deer, osprey, eagles, beavers, birds and other friendly critters on the trails and waters, but it is always best to be prepared and wildlife aware.

Additionally, Missoula's Mount Jumbo is an important corridor for the elk migration each year and trails are closed during the winter.

Please heed all posted signage regarding wildlife and proceed with caution and care when entering wild spaces--it is important to remember that while we are just visitors to these spaces, these places are the animal's homes.

Don’t Forget Your Camera

This phones one is an easy one since most of us have a camera built into our phones, but trust us when we say that you are not going to want to miss out on snapping some scenic shots and documenting the memories made while recreating in Missoula. We are talking endless breathtaking vistas, sweeping mountain valleys, and gorgeous sunsets and sunrises that will make you the envy of everyone on your social media feed.

While recreating on the water, be sure to secure electronics in water-proof bags or phone protectors.

Make sure to tag us @visitmissoula or #visitmissoula for a chance to be featured on our page and to share your adventures with us!

Gear Up for Adventure

Whether you are visitor to Missoula or a local looking to experience something new, there are many gear rental shops and stores to purchase your gear in town.

For mountain bike rentals, check out Spotted Dog Cycles, Bicycle Hangar, Big Sky Bikes, MTCX and Hellgate Cyclery, to name a few.

In the winter months, cross-country skis Last Best Ski and Paddle, The Trail Head and MTCX are good options. If you are planning to downhill ski, MTCX, The Trail Head and Gull Ski and Snowboard can help you, or check out the ski hills individually for rentals.

In the summer months, floating the river is a popular past time. Tubes can be cheaply purchased from Ace Hardware Eastgate. You can also rent through places like Clark Fork Yacht Club and Love Boat Paddle Co.

Fishing is a way of life in Missoula, and anglers will have no trouble finding fly-fishing gear rentals as well as guides and boat rentals in the Missoula area. Check with Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Kingfisher Fly Shop and Blackfoot River Outfitters.

Treat Yourself Afterwards

No outdoor adventure in Missoula is complete without treating yourself afterwards to a cold beverage, an uplifting coffee or tea, a hearty meal or a tasty sweet treat. And since downtown Missoula is so close to the trails and waterways popular for outdoor recreation, you are in luck! Be sure to check out our dining options and choices in Missoula, and be sure to treat yourself after an epic day exploring outdoors.

If you're giving dry a try this month, Missoula has plenty of spots for mocktails. Check out some of our favorites

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