Missoula Trip | Missoula, Montana

Early last week, I packed all of the kids, including the four-legged one, and we took a little trip! Since our move to Montana last year, we have been trying to experience more within this huge amazing state. For our trip, I looked into some AirBnB availabilities that were easily within driving distance, offered some cool “kid” experiences, and were dog friendly. We got very lucky when we found a place just 20 minutes south of Missoula. So I booked it, and off we went!

On our way out there, we drove up to Garnet, Montana to visit the Garnet Ghost Town. The road on the way up there was a little dicey. At one point, I definitely had my doubts we would make it, even though I drove an all-wheel-drive SUV. The reviews for the ghost town said it was worth it, so we pushed on. I’m glad we did.

Once at the top around 6000 ft, we enjoyed a picnic lunch. It was a little (very) chilly, so we all had to wrap in blankets and change into long pants to be somewhat comfortable. It certainly wasn’t ideal, but we made it work.

The historic buildings were very well preserved! Garnet formed from the gold rush in the late 1800s and grew to an approximately 1000 person town in the early 1900s. We walked through the original general store, hotel, and saloon. My favorite, however, was the school just up the hill. It is hard to imagine being a student in Garnet, MT!

We sadly did not get to enjoy all that Garnet had to offer. It started raining and snowing on us, so we decided it would be best to pack up and hit the road again. Luckily, the ranger at the town gave us instructions on a much smoother way back into civilization. It wasn’t nearly as scary driving into Missoula.

Once taking our things to the AirBnB, we had some time to kill. We hopped back in the car and went just a few minutes down the road to Traveler’s Rest State Park just inside Lolo, Montana. This park is recognized as the only known location where Lewis and Clark stopped twice during their expedition. There are a few signs at the park that mark where their camp set up from 1806. We almost had the whole place to ourselves. It was a nice time to relax and enjoy the sounds of the Clark Fork River. The kids of course wanted to stop and throw rocks, so we did. Luckily, no one fell in.

The littles were pretty exhausted by the end of the day. It was time for bed so we could get up and have some fun again the next day!

The next day, we left the dog behind and explored Missoula, Montana. We started at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and learned about elk preservation and the animals found throughout Montana. There was a short nature trail outside of the main building where the kids trotted along pretending to be elk. It was very informative and the staff at the foundation were very friendly. Best of all, it was free–except for the souvenirs I bought!

Moving on, we ate at a local brewery which had some really good pizza and wraps. It conveniently was also right outside of a children’s park, Caras Park. This park is right along the Clark Fork River that runs straight through town. It is also known for its carousel full of hand carved wooden horses. We, of course, had to take a ride on the carousel! The carousel was so much fun! The kids got an extra ride, naturally, so I could take photographs.

While at Caras Park, we watched kayakers and surfers play in the rapids and walked along the trail along the river. We saw lots of other families out enjoying the beautiful afternoon in Missoula as well. Again, the kids wanted to throw rocks into the water. We made a deal: kids can throw rocks in the water as long as they go with mommy to get ice cream and cookies afterwards. It was a win-win for everybody!

From our walk, we saw the “M” trail and decided that would be our last event before heading out of town the following day. We went back, got some rest, and hit the trail bright and early the next morning!

I should also mention the amazing views I witnessed from our AirBnB. We were up a 2.5 mile dirt road that overlooked the mountains. It was a breathtaking way to sip and enjoy coffee while hearing the chime of screaming children argue in the background.

There is an “M” trail where we are in Bozeman, Montana too; apparently multiple cities around the state have one. The Missoula “M” trail was right on University of Montana campus and offered amazing views of the entire city. It was much steeper than our “M” trail, and I think a bit shorter. Even though we are MSU Bobcats fans, it was fun to drive through Grizzly country and see the home of our nemesis.

The kids did great hiking up to the M. I was so impressed and honestly quite relieved. It was a good way to burn off some energy before getting back into the car to head back to Bozeman. Overall, I would say we had a great trip! Of course at times it was stressful, but the good definitely outweighed the bad. If you’re looking for a cool hip town, take a drive to Missoula!

June 26, 2023

  1. Debbie says:

    A great summary of your Missoula experience. Thanks for sharing

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