Missoula, Montana – a hip and vibrant town where all roads lead to the great outdoors. Nestled in the heart of the northern Rocky Mountains, Missoula bustles with vibrancy year-round. It is a town that is culturally diverse, rich with intellectualism and offers world-class outdoor recreation. It is also the gateway to several national parks and forests (if you have a 4th grader in the mix, don’t forget the Every Kid in the Park pass).
Summer is peak tourist season for obvious reasons; kids are out of school, the weather is warmer, and activities are in abundance. But can I let you in on a little secret? Fall is actually the best time of year to visit. Besides having less tourists, lodging will be less expensive and the weather is usually incredible!
5 Reasons to Visit Missoula, Montana in the Fall
Missoulians collectively heave a sigh of relief when autumnal equinox arrives. Fall brings the best weather of the entire year. Missoula blossoms with crisp cool mornings and comfortable warm afternoons which is always a welcome relief from the hot summer. An added bonus is smoke from any surrounding forest fires has usually dissipated allowing clean mountain air to fill your lungs and magnificent views to be on full display.
Insider Advice: Always bring a jacket. You never know when the snow will fly (even in summer). After all, Missoula is in the Rocky Mountains and it’s not uncommon to experience all four-seasons within a 24-hour period!
Outdoor activities certainly don’t slow down in fall around these parts. In fact, you will find just as many if not more in autumn. The cooler weather allows you to comfortably enjoy more outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and fishing. River waters are lower so it is an optimal time to take younger children out rafting without fear of huge rapids (always wear a life jacket!). Fishing is still popular during this time and numerous guides are still available to give you casting tips!
Insider Advice: Always carry bear spray when hiking around Missoula. Fall is the best time for spotting wildlife as they are out hunting and gathering food for winter. Never, ever approach any wildlife no matter how docile the animal appears.
Because homecoming is revered in Missoula, it definitely is worth giving its own spotlight. Want to see the Missoula community in action? Then you will have to be in town for the University of Montana’s Homecoming week. This festive week which celebrates the University of Montana, is bigger than any holiday I can think of – it’s all things Griz and should not to be taken lightly. Alum from near and far arrive in droves and the week culminates in a two-hour morning parade followed by an afternoon homecoming football game.
Warning: You will be hugely outnumbered if you are a bobcat fan…just sayin’
Missoula is surrounded by deciduous tress, and they turn vibrant colors before dropping completely by mid-fall. It certainly is eye-candy to see the brilliant reds, yellows and orange showcased on the many aspen, oak, maple, poplar and elm trees lining the streets and hills. Take a drive into the mountains and the color patterns will simply take your breath away.
Craft Beer and Local Restaurants
Craft beer is all the rage and is no different in Missoula. In fact, Missoulians take just as much pride in their craft beer as they do in outdoor activities. After a day of exploring the wide-open spaces, tantalize your palette with a local brew while enjoying a fresh meal. Wandering the hip-strip, you will find numerous restaurants offering a wide-selection of international and local epicurean delights. Everyone from vegans to steak-lovers will find something to satisfy them and most restaurants proudly use locally sourced ingredients. Missoula has it all!
Have you been to Missoula in the fall? What are your thoughts and favorite activities?