Missoula is dubbed the Garden City for its mild winters relative to the rest of Montana. It’s no wonder we’re suffering some growing pains: Missoula is a pretty good place to live. Depending on the season, we hike, ski, fish, run rivers and ride mountain bikes. We talk politics and shoot pool. We’re also a literate town; it’s commonplace to chat with a local author about his or her latest book. (John Updike dubbed Missoula the “Paris of the 90’s,” a flattering but somewhat gross exaggeration.)
Missoula is located in an old, glacial lake bed, which is now cut by Clark Fork River. The Bitterroot River feeds into the Clark Fork on the Southwest edge of town; the famed Big Blackfoot River meets the Clark Fork just east of town.
The University of Montana is here, as is the Northern Region headquarters for the U.S. Forest Service. Retail trade is way up, extractive industries like logging are waning.
Just as the university students leave each year, the tourists arrive. Missoula is 3 hours south of Glacier National Park and 3-and-a-half hours west of Yellowstone National Park. It is surrounded by national forests and a handful of wilderness areas. In short, it’s not a bad place to hang out in the summer or (if you like the snow) winter.