15 Free Things to Do in Missoula, MT
Welcome to Missoula, a charming city in the heart of the Rocky Mountains!
In Montana County, Missoula is surrounded by towering mountains, verdant forests, and crystal-clear streams, located at the confluence of three rivers, the Clark Fork, Bitterroot, and Blackfoot.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do here, from hiking and mountain biking to fly fishing and skiing.
Easy access to the nature reserves and trails nearby makes Missoula a perfect base camp for exploring some of the country's most breathtaking landscapes.
However, Missoula is more than just a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
Its thriving arts community gives the city a vibrant cultural scene, with great art galleries, museums, and live performances you can catch.
Whether you're seeking adventure, culture, or a relaxing getaway, Missoula has something for everyone.
Here’s a list of free things to do in Missoula, Montana.
Start Your Trip at Destination Missoula
Located at 101 East Main Street, the heart of downtown Missoula is Destination Missoula.
It is the city's premier tourist information center and a great place to start your trip to Missoula.
This comprehensive resource offers information about the city's top attractions, events, and activities.
It is staffed by knowledgeable locals passionate about sharing their love of the area with visitors.
The center offers maps, brochures, and other resources to help you get the most out of your trip, as well as insider tips and recommendations from local experts.
In addition to its helpful staff and comprehensive resources, Destination Missoula hosts various events and activities throughout the year.
See live music performances, art exhibits, and community festivals.
Whether you're a first-time visitor to Missoula or a seasoned traveler looking to explore a new corner of the West, stop by Destination Missoula and start your adventure on the right foot.
Hike the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area & Wilderness
Rattlesnake National Recreation Area & Wilderness is a natural paradise north of Missoula at Rattlesnake drive.
It has miles of hiking trails, rugged mountain peaks, and pristine wilderness areas.
At Rattlesnake, you can explore the area's stunning natural beauty and immerse yourself in the rugged Montana wilderness.
One of the most popular hiking destinations in the Rattlesnake is the Rattlesnake Trail.
This 14-mile out-and-back trail winds through the heart of the wilderness area, where you will encounter towering mountains, cascading waterfalls, and crystal-clear streams.
Visitors can explore the shorter but equally stunning trails leading to popular destinations such as Rattlesnake Creek, Stuart Peak, and Franklin Bridge for a shorter hike.
The Rattlesnake is also home to various wildlife, including deer, elk, black bears, and mountain lions, providing visitors a unique opportunity to experience Montana's wild side up close.
For birdwatching, the area is home to a diverse array of bird species, including bald eagles, ospreys, and great blue herons.
Whether looking for a peaceful retreat or an excellent and challenging hike, the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area & Wilderness is the perfect destination for anyone exploring Montana's stunning natural beauty.
Learn to Fight Fire at the Aerial Fire Depot and Smokejumper Center
The Aerial Fire Depot and Smokejumper Center is a unique attraction that offers visitors a fascinating look at the history and technology of firefighting.
The center is located at 5765 West Broadway Street.
It is home to various exhibits, displays, and interactive experiences that showcase the bravery and skill of the men and women who protect forests and wilderness areas.
Here you can find the famous smokejumper exhibit, which features a replica of a smokejumper aircraft and displays that explain the history and training of smokejumpers.
You can also learn about the tools and techniques used to fight wildfires, and the different types of aircraft and equipment firefighting crews use.
Aside from that, the Aerial Fire Depot and Smokejumper Center also feature exhibits and displays that showcase the evolution of firefighting technology.
Check out early hand tools and equipment for modern aircraft and communication systems.
You can even explore a historic lookout tower that offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests.
For a unique and fun educational experience, stop by the Aerial Fire Depot and Smokejumper Center in Missoula.
Tour the University of Montana
While the University of Montana in Missoula is best known for its academic excellence, the campus is also a hidden gem for visitors seeking to explore the city's vibrant cultural scene.
The campus is located at 32 Campus Drive and has several attractions, making it a must-see destination.
You can visit the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, which features a diverse collection of artworks and exhibits that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Montana and the American West.
Another popular attraction on campus is the Payne Family Native American Center, a state-of-the-art facility that celebrates the cultural contributions of Montana's Native American communities.
It has a stunning art gallery, a research library, and a performance space that hosts events and workshops throughout the year.
You can also catch a football game at the historic Washington-Grizzly Stadium, which boasts stunning views of the surrounding mountains and is consistently ranked as one of the best college football venues in the country.
To learn more about the surrounding area while catching a thrilling football game, visit the University of Montana in Missoula.
Climb the Blue Mountain Trailhead
The Blue Mountain Trailhead is a popular outdoor destination just a few miles south of Missoula, Montana.
This stunning natural area offers miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through western Montana's rugged mountains and valleys.
It provides a panoramic view of the vistas of the surrounding mountains.
The entrance is at the parking lot at Forest Hill Lane.
Then, you can hike or bike to the top of Blue Mountain and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding wilderness and the city below.
One of the best things about the Blue Mountain Trailhead is that it suits hikers and bikers of all skill levels, with various routes and loops.
If you want to explore the natural beauty of western Montana, then go to the Blue Mountain Trailhead.
See the Elk at Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
To learn more about the state's natural beauty and wildlife, visit the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The RMEF is a nonprofit organization founded in 1984.
It is dedicated to conserving elk populations and their habitats throughout North America, and its headquarters in Missoula offers a wealth of information and exhibits for visitors to enjoy.
Their museum offers an immersive experience that allows visitors to learn about the history and ecology of elk and the organization's conservation efforts.
Exhibits include interactive displays showcasing the different habitats and ecosystems where elk live and the various hunting and conservation practices used to manage elk populations.
If you’re looking for an educational and enriching experience, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a must-see at 5705 Grant Creek Road in Missoula.
Enjoy a Quiet Picnic at the Pattee Canyon Recreation Area
Nestled in a wooded canyon near Southeast Missoula, the Pattee Canyon Recreation Area is a beautiful park with many outdoor activities and natural beauty.
Standing at an elevation of 4,100 feet, this stunning area was named after David Pattee, an early settler who claimed some land near the mouth of the canyon.
The Pattee Canyon Recreation Area trails wind through a stunning landscape of dense forests, rocky outcroppings, and pristine streams.
Hikers and bikers can choose from various routes and loops, ranging from strolls to challenging mountain climbs.
One of the fun things you can do at the Pattee Canyon Recreation Area is to enjoy a picnic or campout in the shaded groves of the canyon or try fishing in the cool streams that run through the area.
The Pattee Canyon Recreation Area is great for discovering Missoula's natural beauty and outdoor adventure.
Take the Kids to the Playground at Caras Park
Caras Park is one of the most popular destinations for families in Missoula.
Located in the heart of downtown, at 123 Carousel Drive, this charming park offers many activities and attractions, making it a must-see destination for tourists.
One of the highlights of Caras Park is the Clark Fork River, which runs alongside the park and provides a stunning backdrop for picnics, strolls, and other outdoor activities.
You can also rent kayaks and canoes and explore the river alone or join one of the many guided tours from the park.
The park is also home to various events and festivals throughout the year, including concerts, art shows, and the famous Missoula Farmers Market.
Caras Park is an ideal destination for families and children with the playground, carousel, and splash pad that offer endless hours of fun for kids of all ages.
Stop by Caras Park to soak up some sunshine, enjoy a scenic stroll, or join one of Missoula's many exciting events.
Revisit Past Wars at the Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History
The Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History is a historic museum that showcases military history from the Civil War to the present.
They have an impressive collection of artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia from World War I to the Vietnam War.
One of the museum's highlights is the collection of military vehicles, from tanks and armored vehicles to jeeps and motorcycles.
It also has a replica of a World War I trench, with sandbags and barbed wire, giving visitors a sense of what it was like to fight in the trenches.
Another fascinating exhibit is the POW display, featuring artifacts and memorabilia from prisoners of war.
It tells the stories of prisoners from different wars and conflicts and shows their conditions in captivity.
If you want to know about life during wartime, visit the Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History in Missoula.
Reflect at the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church
The St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church is a historic landmark in Missoula, Montana.
Built in the early 1900s, this stunning cathedral is a testament to the rich history and culture of the area and is a must-see destination for visitors to the city.
The church's beautiful Gothic architecture is a marvel, with intricate stone carvings and stained glass windows that tell the story of the Catholic faith.
In addition to its stunning beauty, the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church is also a hub of community activity in Missoula, hosting various events and activities throughout the year.
If you're of the faith, you can attend mass at the church.
Otherwise, you can experience the vibrant faith and culture of the Missoula Catholic community.
The St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church is at 420 West Pine Street.
Ride a Bike along the Trails at Fort Missoula Regional Park
The Fort Missoula Regional Park is a park rich in cultural heritage here in Missoula.
This expansive park has various historical and cultural attractions located on the city's outskirts at 3401 South Avenue West.
It also has some of the area's most scenic hiking trails and outdoor recreation opportunities.
Explore a restored frontier fort, a museum dedicated to the history of the U.S. Army in the West, and several historic buildings and structures that offer a glimpse into the region's past.
The park is also home to several sports fields, playgrounds, and picnic areas, making it a popular destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts.
One of the highlights of the Fort Missoula Regional Park is its extensive network of hiking and biking trails, which wind through lush forests, open meadows, and scenic overlooks.
See Fabulous Art at the Missoula Art Museum
Located in the heart of downtown Missoula, at 355 North Pattee Street, the Missoula Art Museum is a must-see destination for art lovers.
Founded in 1975, the museum has a rich history of showcasing contemporary art from Montana and beyond, focusing on promoting emerging local artists.
The Missoula Art Museum's permanent collection includes over 4,000 works of art, from paintings and sculptures to prints, photographs, and multimedia installations.
The Missoula Art Museum also hosts various events and educational programs throughout the year, including lectures, workshops, and artist talks.
You can also browse the museum's gift shop, which features a wide selection of unique art books, gifts, and souvenirs, which are excellent exhibits.
Whether you're an art enthusiast or an admirer of culture, add the Missoula Art Museum to your itinerary.
Catch the Sunset at Van Buren Street Footbridge
The Van Buren Street Footbridge is a stunning pedestrian bridge over the Clark Fork River on Van Buren Street, offering unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape.
The bridge spans the Clark Fork River and offers visitors a unique vantage point to watch the sunset over the surrounding mountains.
One of the highlights of the Van Buren Street Footbridge is its stunning architecture.
The bridge features a distinctive curved design that is both elegant and functional.
It also offers visitors a unique perspective on the river and the surrounding landscape.
The best reason to visit the Van Buren Street Footbridge is to catch a sunset.
As the sun sets over the surrounding mountains, the sky is bathed in stunning colors, from deep oranges and reds to soft pinks and purples.
Whether you're a photographer or an admirer of nature, the Van Buren Street Footbridge is the perfect place to catch a sunset in Missoula.
Fish for Trout at Greenough Park
Greenough Park is one of the most stunning natural areas in Missoula.
This expansive 42-acre park is situated along the banks of Rattlesnake Creek at 1001 Monroe Street and offers visitors a unique mix of cottonwood bottomlands and coniferous forest habitats.
Here you can explore various hiking trails and paths through lush forests, past sparkling streams, and along the creek banks.
Greenough Park is also home to several picnic areas, benches, and a rich wildlife habitat.
See a diverse range of species, including deer, coyotes, foxes, and various bird species.
The park is also a popular destination for anglers, with Rattlesnake Creek offering some of the best trout fishing in the area.
Practice Your Tricks at Mobash Skate Park
Mobash Skate Park is a popular park that offers skaters of all skill levels a chance to practice their moves and test their limits on various ramps, rails, and obstacles.
It is located at 15 South Orange Street in a beautiful natural setting, with views of the surrounding mountains and plenty of green space for picnics and relaxation.
The skate park was designed to be accessible to skaters of all ages and abilities.
It has different areas for beginners, intermediate skaters, and more advanced riders.
However, the Mobash Skate Park isn't just about skating.
The park is also great for hanging out and enjoying fresh air and sunshine.
Whether you're just starting or looking to master new tricks, the Mobash Skate Park is the perfect place to hone your skills and meet other skaters in the area.
Missoula is a fantastic place for those looking for a place rich in culture and beautiful scenery.
The city has so much outdoor adventure, stunning scenery, and friendly locals.
The best thing is that these attractions are free!
Check out the free things to do in Missoula, Montana!