Published: October 2009Best Adventure Towns

Missoula, Montana

Plan a long weekend getaway with our Missoula adventure guide, featuring great outdoor escapes, where to stay, and where to eat. Then chime in with your picks.

Pop. 67,165
GPS: 46°52'N 114°01'W

An eclectic college town and Rocky Mountain retreat: World-class hiking, skiing, biking, and white-water paddling are all within minutes of town. Find your own options along miles of trails in mammoth Lolo National Forest. Also a mountain-bike-touring hotbed, Missoula is home to Adventure Cycling Association (adventurecycling.org), which maps and maintains multiple cross-country road-bike routes. Glacier's three hours away and Yellowstone's about five, and the town is a mecca for fly-fishermen, where brook and rainbow trout thrive in the Rock Creek, Bitterroot, Clark Fork, and Blackfoot Rivers, all within a short drive of town.

Your Turn: Tell us about your favorite Missoula adventures, restaurants, and hotels in the comments section below.

PLAY
You cannot come to Missoula without going mountain biking. There are countless trails to choose from (check out a great listing here), but for starters our pick is the Sam Braxton National Recreation Trail, a 3.4-mile beginner route. If you really want to see what Missoula has to offer, take on the Sheep Mountain trail, a remote 18.7-mile stretch across high ridgelines to the highest peaks in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area. Missoula Bicycle Works can outfit you with a bike ($25 a day; missoulabicycleworks.com).

EAT
The Keep Restaurant has a cozy stone fireplace, panoramic views of the Missoula Valley, and a delicious grilled buffalo steak topped with Gorgonzola butter (thekeeprestaurant.com).

SLEEP
Goldsmith's Bed and Breakfast is a gorgeous 1911 brick mansion right on the banks of the Clark Fork River (doubles from $89; goldsmithsinn.com).

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  • I can't say enough about the city as a base for adventure. With the Rattlesnake Wilderness area minu…
  • This is an absolutely wonderful place to live and visit. My wife and I lived there for three years.…
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