Located nearly 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) to the north of Missoula, this breathtaking natural area can be easily accessed from the city's main limits. Wander along the area's dramatic topography, where Douglas-lined pathways and slopes dotted with ponderosa pine trees blend beautifully with cascading waterfalls and babbling brooks. Keep your eyes peeled for the white-tailed deer that drinks its fill from the Rattlesnake Creek, as well as for mountain goats and grizzly bears that can be seen meandering along the dense thicket of wilderness. Nearly 73 miles (117.48 kilometers) of trails snake their way through the pristine wilderness of the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area, providing incredible opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of every stripe - be it hiking, mountain biking, skiing, or horseback riding. Those who love fishing will also delight at the fact that Rattlesnake Creek is teeming with native species of fish, such as bull trout, mountain whitefish, and cutthroat trout, to name a few.
Not far from the University of Montana, Mount Sentinel, also known as Mount Woody, watches guard over the charming city of Missoula. At a height of 1,958 feet (596.79 meters), this majestic mountain is most famous for featuring one of the city's most iconic landmarks, the letter M, on its western face. Marked to signify the end of a trail, now known as the 'M Trail', by the students of the University of Montana, this concrete structure has seen several transformations since it was first secured into the mountain's side in 1908. Today, it is commonly used as a lookout point by avid trekkers and provides panoramic views of the sparkling Clark Fork River, the valley, and the city spread out below. If you ascend further up the trail until you reach the summit of Mount Sentinel, the views get even more rewarding. Witness the magnificence of Mount Jumbo, across the Hellgate Canyon toward the north, while the south blesses you with views of the Bitterroot Mountains.
The Montana Natural History Center in Missoula strives to promote awareness about nature, paying particular attention to western Montana's natural history. Fun for kids and adults alike, it hosts community programs that include educational outreach and entertaining events like trivia night and nature walks. The museum offers naturalist programs and field days for adults, as well as summer camps and a slew of exhibits designed to catch the eye of your little ones. The natural landscape is such an integral part of what makes "The Treasure State" so special, so anyone traveling through Missoula would be remiss to skip the informative and entertaining Montana Natural History Center.
Caras Park is tucked away in downtown Missoula on the banks of the Clark Fork River. While its a lovely spot for a peaceful stroll, the Park Pavilion is also known for the local events it hosts throughout the year, which range from casual weekend markets to lively brew fests. Come to see live music or enjoy a rest after meandering along the Riverfront Walking trail. There's always something to do at Caras Park.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was founded by the four hunters Bob Munson, Bill Munson, Dan Bull and Charlie Decker in 1984. The foundation focuses on conservation and restoration of natural habitation. At the museum, you will find interesting wildlife exhibits, ranging from information about elk to photographs, as well as exhibits that illustrate and explain the foundation's conservation efforts and steps taken for the protection of future wildlife population. The foundation has programs where the children and all the visitors are also educated about the values and ethics of hunting.
St. Francis Xavier Church is the tallest church of Missoula built-in 1892 by the architecture, Mr. Blanchard, under the observation of the priest Father Diomedi. The interiors are of the church as much as mesmerizing as the exteriors. There are beautiful paintings that are more than 100 years old, the paintings were painted by the brother of the Society of Jesus and a kitchen helper when they had free time. So if you are in the city do not miss out on visiting this church and seek some blessing.
Low-lying mountains, undulating grasslands, scenic meadows, and a meandering river paint the perfect picture of idyllic beauty, elevating the natural splendor of the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. This veritable sanctuary is a marvelous mosaic of diverse habitats, inviting nature lovers to explore its picturesque environs and document the flora and fauna that abound here. Keep your eyes peeled for the varied bird species that flit about the area's expanse. The scenery is a delight to behold, making for fantastic photography sessions. Along with hiking and fishing, visitors can also partake in interpretative programs designed to illustrate the refuge's natural features.
Sprawling across 4,900 acres, Blue Mountain Recreation Area is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Here, you can indulge in several activities like mountain biking, horse riding and hiking. You will also come across an interpretive trail and be treated to panoramic views of the Sapphire and Rattlesnake mountains as well as breathtaking views of the Missoula valley.