Located three hours south of Glacier National Park and less than four hours west of Yellowstone National Park, Missoula is a natural playground beckoning children of all ages. In addition to Mother Nature’s bounty, area leaders have ensured Missoula offers plenty of recreational opportunities for residents and visitors. Splash Montana, with its new, 50-meter pool for example, offers three-story water slides, a lazy river and floating play structures. In cooler months, swimmers seek fun at Splash’s sister offering, the indoor Currents Aquatic Center. Cycling opportunities abound in and around the Missoula area, including the family-friendly Clark Fork Riverfront Trail, a downtown venue shared with pedestrians. The area’s green initiative encourages commuting via two wheels rather than four with 200 bike racks and new and improved bike paths.
On the water
With 200 rivers and streams for fishing, Missoula is ready for novice and dyed-in-the-bait anglers who can choose from wetting a line in roadside waters or making the commitment to a multi-day outing. Just look out for screams of joy when more active waters are populated by those seeking the exhilaration of river rafting. Glacier National Park gives hikers and backpackers the opportunity to stand on the continental divide. The renowned park and others in the region showcase the bountiful wildlife, lakes and tranquility nestled in the area’s extensive trail system.
When summer gives way to snow, skiers head for the Montana Snowbowl, built on two peaks with 2,600 feet of adventure. With 700 acres of extreme skiing, daredevils find plenty of thrills while the other side of the bowl offers family-friendly slopes. Winter sports also include cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in an area boasting some of America’s longest snowmobiling trails. Even the experienced outdoor enthusiast might feel a twinge or two after all this activity. Missoula offers just the remedy in the form of a soak in the Lolo Hot Springs, the same waters that soothed American Indians and, later, members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.