Situated in the heart of the northern Rocky Mountains, Missoula is one of America's most unique towns. Known as the Garden City for its dense trees and lush green landscape, its approximately 85,000 residents are sophisticated, sporty, down-to-earth, and welcoming in their mountain forest setting. This little-known community boasts plenty of national travel deals.
Billings International Airport (BIL) is Montana's largest and busiest airport, but flights also serve Missoula International Airport with connections to major hubs like Denver, Salt Lake City and Minneapolis-St. Paul from where frequent connections to destinations throughout the US are available. While Amtrak does not serve Missoula directly, its Chicago-Seattle line crosses the northern portion of the state. The Missoula bus terminal is served by Greyhound for national travel and Rimrock Trailways for intrastate travellers. National travel deals for all of the above transportation methods are easily available.
Several highways converge in the area making Missoula an ideal hub for car rental trips to other parts of Western Montana, including both Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. I-90 leads into town from the west (Washington State and Idaho) and the east (Billings and Bozeman). From Salt Lake City, I-15 leads up through Idaho and intersects with I-90 at Butte.
Missoula sits at the junction of five valleys. The town boasts a ballet company, live theater, a symphony orchestra, and the University of Montana campus. The Art Museum of Missoula, Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, St. Francis Xavier Church, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Wildlife Visitor Center, and The Smokejumper Visitor Center are also worth mentioning. Popular craft and produce markets take place on weekends.
After a long day of play, you can drive your car rental to Missoula's historic downtown area where, in addition to early twentieth century buildings, you'll find unique shops, galleries, fine dining, coffee houses, historic bars, nightlife, and early 20th century buildings. The city is easy to navigate by rental car to Missoula and its and maintains its small-town feel.
Many believe the natural landscapes beyond Missoula's city limits contain the area's true allure. Most of these natural treasures, however, can only be accessed with a rental car in Missoula. Surrounded by millions of acres of National Forest, wilderness, and recreation areas, Missoula is a perfect base for outdoor enthusiasts. The plentiful hiking trails are also suitable for biking. With three major rivers running through the area, fly fishermen, rafters, kayakers and canoers have plenty to explore. In the winter, four ski resorts are nearby, and snowmobile rentals are plentiful.
Mount Sentinel's scenic trail network begins at the University of Montana and ends at a signature big white M on the mountain's west slope. Reaching the actual summit of Mount Sentinel requires additional climbing. Mount Jumbo and the Rattlesnake Wilderness can be easily seen from both views. A jagged trail down Mount Sentinel's back end leads back to the M trails base. The less strenuous, but equally scenic, Riverfront Trail travels through the family-friendly Caras Park.
Missoula, and the rest of Montana, is very safe apart from hazardous winter driving conditions. Special precautions should be taken on winding mountain roads. Travel insurance is strongly recommended for all visitors, especially those planning to spend a lot of time in the wilderness or who arrive during the winter.