MISSOULA - WESTERN WILDLANDS
Some might call Missoula, Montana unique, cool, or even hip. Others describe it as serene, welcoming, and rife with natural beauty. Whichever suits your tastes, it’s clear the area has been charming lifestyle pilgrims for decades. Nestled in mountainous western Montana, and surrounded by seven wilderness areas and at the confluence of three rivers, Missoula is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. You can kayak, raft, or tube right through the city or take a relaxing hike in 60,000 acres of wilderness minutes from the heart of downtown. With the added bonus of the University of Montana, many alumni find themselves pursuing higher education after their term of service with MCC. Whether it’s recreation or education, MCC'ers will find everything they need in this vibrant town.
Missoula is an active city in the community that abuts a national forest, boasts numerous recreation areas, and has three rivers that meander in and around town. In terms of trails, it’s an area that is hard to beat. The Rattlesnake National Recreation Area & Wilderness Area provides ample outdoor enjoyment to hikers, cyclists, and climbers alike. As you venture out from the city, the access to public lands only increases! The largest wilderness area in the lower 48, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, can be accessed by car in just a few hours. The same can be said of the breathtaking vistas in Glacier National Park. Getting outdoors in Missoula is easy. Deciding what to do may prove a bit more challenging.
Public Lands in Our Area
Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex
The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex is an administrated unit of the Flathead National Forest, the Lewis and Clark National Forest, Lolo National Forest, and the Helena National Forest. The United States Congress designated the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area as part of the original Wilderness Act of 1964 and it now encompasses over 1.5 million acres. Within this complex are three wildernesses: Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, and Great Bear.
Blackfoot River Corridor
Classic trout habitat and incredible scenery make the lower stretch of the Blackfoot River one of the most popular rivers in Montana. Fly fishing, camping, swimming, rafting, or relaxing are some of the things you may enjoy along the Blackfoot Corridor. The Corridor is a partnership between landowners, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Bureau of Land Management, who all work together to provide protection of the natural resources and private property and provide public safety along the 26-mile stretch of river.
Clark Fork River
The river is named for William Clark during the expedition’s 1806 return trip from the Pacific Ocean. The Clark Fork River is well known for its diversity and the abundant variety of recreational opportunities it offers. Boating, swimming, fishing, kayaking, and skiing are just a few of the popular past times enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. And there’s nothing wrong with sitting back on a quiet evening and enjoying a beautiful sunset!
Garnet Ghost Town
This well-preserved ghost town offers a glimpse of life in an 1890s gold mining camp. The visitor center, open daily from June through September, has information about the 19th-century life there. Winter access is only by snowmobile or skiing. Rental cabins are available.
Garnet National Winter Recreational Trails
More than 100 miles of trails, including the 32-mile Garnet National Winter Recreation Trail, wind through this popular winter sports area. Trails are open for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.
Missoula Trails System
Missoula Parks and Recreation is proud to serve the citizens of Missoula with quality recreation programs, well-maintained parks and trails, and an abundance of open space lands. Missoula boasts more than 400 acres of city parkland, 20,000 park and boulevard trees, 22 miles of trails, and 3,300 acres of conservation lands.
Mountain Bike Trails
Mountain biking miles of exhilarating trails or cruising around town, you'll quickly discover why Missoula has been dubbed a gold level bike-friendly city. On any given day, you may well see more bikes locked up than cars downtown. Missoula's bicycle system includes more than 20 miles of bike lanes and routes on major streets. Head ten minutes from the heart of downtown and you can put yourself on a scenic slope surrounded by nothing but nature.
Rattler Gulch Limestone Cliffs
This unique area is valued by outdoor enthusiasts for its geology. Easy access to the cliffs and its geologic features make it a popular destination for rock climbers.
Rattlesnake National Recreation Area & Wilderness
The Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness is a 60,000-acre wilderness complex to Missoula's north. The developed trails welcome a variety of hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, and bicycling opportunities.
The third largest Wilderness in the Lower 48, it’s only separated by the 600 foot wide Nez Perce Trail from the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Except for the high crest of the Bitterroot Mountains, the area is dominated by ridges broken with raw granite peaks. Below the ridges are deep canyons covered with thick coniferous forest. Hidden low valleys are rich with old-growth cedar, fir, and spruce, with ponderosa pine dominating open grassy slopes along the rivers. Few people visit the remote areas in the wilderness, which makes it all the more appealing for the Selway elk herd, deer, moose, black bears, mountain lions, and wolves.