We're committed to keeping Montana's outdoor spaces, communities, residents and visitors safe. As you enjoy all that Missoula has to offer, please join us in following these guidelines for responsible recreation.
Before arriving, it's always smart to check the status of the place you'd like to visit. Have a backup plan if your destination is closed or crowded, and consider adjusting the time of day you plan to explore if crowds are a concern. By arriving early, you may experience shorter lines and reduced crowds for a more enjoyable experience!
Indoors or out, be prepared to encounter others with different social distancing comfort levels while traveling. If you can, give other people as much space as possible. On trails, move over to let stock (horses and mules) pass, yield to other hikers and be respectful of other users. If you know you'll be in an area with other people, have a mask on hand. Keep your group small and stay home if you are sick (have a cough, cold, fever, etc.) or have been in contact with individuals who have been sick—you can always visit Missoula in the future!
Physical distancing doesn't just apply to the people around you—this is Montana after all, and Missoula is surrounded by seven wilderness areas. Always keep a safe distance between you and any wildlife you encounter while exploring in the great outdoors.
Check our local regulations for the latest safety measures. Some facilities might be closed, so consider packing a lunch and bring essentials like extra water, food/snacks, bug spray and a first aid kit on your next adventure. In Montana, both weather and terrain can change quickly, so we recommend packing plenty of clothing layers to add or remove as weather changes.
If you're curious about current regulations in Missoula, just ask a local! We are available to answer visitor questions via phone or LiveChat Monday-Friday, 8:00AM-5:00PM MST.
If your travel plans include a visit to one of the nearby national parks, make sure you're up to date on current regulations and new procedures, such as Glacier National Park's new ticketed entry system.
Have fun, but know your limits. Take it slow and choose lower-risk activities to stay safe, and reduce the strain on search and rescue operations and health care resources. Remember that Montana is home to bears, mountain goats, mountain lions, elk, deer and more. If you plan to spend time explore the surrounding wilderness, be prepared to have an encounter with our abundant wildlife. Give wildlife their space, do not approach them and do not feed them. If you plan to hike, be sure to go with a friend, make noise on the trail (talking or clapping), carry bear spray and know how to use it.
While summer is an incredible time to visit Missoula, it's also wildfire season in Montana. Stay up to date on wildfire conditions throughout the state, and do your part to prevent wildfires while enjoying our outdoor spaces. Visit Montana's state website to find resources and learn more about wildfire safety and prevention.
Our area is full of local parks, trails and public spaces. Enjoy them while being mindful of your impact on the surrounding communities.
When in doubt, ask a local. Stop by our walk-in visitor center in downtown Missoula to pick up travel guides and maps, and get suggestions for things to do, places to go and insider tips. If you find yourself needing a hand while recreating on any of our three rivers, look for a River Ambassador! These friendly locals can be spotted in bright shirts clearly labeled “RIVER AMBASSADOR,” and they move between Missoula-area river access points and parking areas on the Clark Fork, Bitterroot, and Blackfoot, as well as on SUP boards and in kayaks. They're around all summer to help ensure safe, fun, river-smart recreation by providing information on access points, appropriate waste disposal, parking/shuttle options, safety tips, maps, best river use practices, and more. Also see our Downtown River Map for more information about getting started.
Pack your garbage out with you and clean up properly. When recreating on public lands, be sure to take care of them by staying on trails. If you plan to camp while you're visiting the Missoula area, be sure to do so in an existing campsite or pick a site where vegetation is absent. It's important to respect public lands and waters, as well as Native and local communities.
“Leave no trace” also means watching out for invasive species! All watercraft, (motorized and nonmotorized) must stop at ALL watercraft inspection stations you encounter. Inspection
stations are the first line of defense to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Missoula is a welcoming and inclusive community for all who wish to enjoy it. Do your part to help make our outdoor spaces safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities.
To learn more about fire safety information, and check fire statuses in Montana, visit gis.dnrc.mt.gov/apps/firemap
BeOutdoorSafe.org for more information on recreating safely outdoors.
MCFPA.org for information on local fire danger and prevention.
MTFireInfo.org for information on fire restriction.
I want to hunt and/or fish while visiting Missoula—what licenses/permits will I need?
Visit the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website to buy and apply for all necessary licenses and permits before hunting and/or fishing in Montana.
How can I get around Missoula without a car?
Mountain Line provides free, public transportation around Missoula. Visit their website or stop by their Downtown Transfer Center to check out their bus routes and schedules and plan your next trip.
In addition to our award-winning public transit, Missoula also has some of the most bike-friendly roads in the country! Bring your bike or rent one during your stay to get around town on two wheels.
What will the weather be like when I'm in Missoula?
We experience all four seasons here in Missoula, and you want to prepare for each one differently. Check the Missoula annual weather averages before visiting and pack accordingly!
Do I need a car with 4WD or AWD in order to visit Missoula?
You can drive around Missoula and reach many outdoor destinations in the surrounding area without a 4WD vehicle.
If you'll be visiting Missoula in the winter, you may encounter snow on the roads. While snowplows work to minimize the snow on our roads in town, it's recommended that all drivers carry chains in their vehicle and prepare for winter driving—that means going slow, giving other vehicles more space than usual, and checking road conditions before heading out.
Visit the Montana Department of Transportation website for current road conditions, webcams, closures and incidents.
What if I don't have the proper gear for my planned outdoor activities?
It's important that you use the proper gear for every outdoor activity. If you don't have the right gear or need advice on what to bring, there are multiple places with gear rentals and helpful outdoor experts in Missoula. Try The Trail Head, Bob Ward's or Missoula's Last Best Ski & Paddle Shop.
Where can I learn more about responsible recreation on the river?
Missoula has three rivers running through town, and it's up to us to stay safe and respect nature while we enjoy them. Visit the Clark Fork Coalition website for more information on keeping our rivers clean and utilizing their River Ambassador program.