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Outdoor Recreation & Activities in Missoula

Riverfront Park in Missoula
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Missoula is blessed with a wealth of things to do due to its location. Missoula is tough to beat for the serious angler – the Bitterroot River and Clark Fork run right through town, both excellent rivers in their own right. To top it off, the Blackfoot River and Rock Creek are less than 20 miles away, providing further fly-fishing waters.

Want to go hiking? Well, Missoula may be the hiking capital of Montana, due to all the mountain areas and trails nearby. The Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness Area is less than 30 miles away with hundreds of miles of trails. The Rattlesnake Wilderness Area just to the north of Missoula is a popular place for both day hiking and backpacking, while the attached recreational area also is a magnet for mountain bikers (just watch out for the black bears). The Sapphire Mountains also have excellent day hiking and backpacking opportunities.

Skiing is also a popular thing to do in Missoula during the winter. Montana Snowbowl is a fine ski area that lies just about 15 road miles outside of town. Montana Snowbowl has a solid vertical drop of 2600 feet, with several bowls open for skiing – with a total of 950 acres open for skiing. Montana Snowbowl is probably only second to Whitefish Mountain Resort (formerly Big Mountain) for tree skiing in Montana – with over 500 acres of gladed runs.

Another ski area, Marshall Mountain, lies just a stone’s throw from Missoula. Marshall Mountain has a 1500 foot vertical (if you’re generous) and 3 lifts with 480 total acres open to skiing. A future expansion of Marshall Mountain should also open up more runs and some interesting areas to skiing. Another fine ski area, Discovery ski area, is also located relatively close, too.

Mountains Outside of Missoula
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River floating and rafting is also very popular in Missoula. This is probably not surprising, considering all the rivers that run in and around town. On weekends during the summer, it seems the entire town empties out and heads up to the Blackfoot River for a float trip – using pretty much whatever floats, from inner tubes to canoes to quality inflatable rafts. The Bitterroot River also receives considerable use during the weekends from recreational floating parties. And the Clark Fork downstream from Missoula also receives lots of use by floaters who are looking for whitewater – several Class III and IV rapids are found downstream from Missoula on the Clark Fork.

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