Considering Missoula's nickname is the "Garden City," it is no surprise this city's population of roughly 67,000 has been growing at a steady rate for the past several years. Its relatively mild weather, proximity to well-known natural attractions, and family atmosphere make it a popular city for settling down. Its rich history also attracts visitors; among its many claims to fame, Missoula was a stop on the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805. It has come a long way since its original settlement in 1860, when it was a simple trading post known as Hellgate Village. The development of major roadways, along with the foundation of the University of Montana in 1895, helped make Missoula the proud city it is today.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
The median age in Missoula is 30, and the median household income is less than state median income. The unemployment rate of Missoula is around 7.5 percent.
In spite of a recent increase in median income levels in the city, roughly 21 percent of Missoula residents are considered to be living below the poverty line.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Missoula's residential neighborhoods include:
- University District: Just south of the Clark Fork River at the base of Mt. Sentinel, this residential neighborhood features tree-lines streets, historic craftsman homes, and small yards. The University District boasts several recreational areas, including the river trail system to the north, the famous "M" trail on Mt. Sentinel to the east, and the University Golf Course to the south. The neighborhood accommodates a mix of families, young professionals, and retirees.
- Lower Rattlesnake: This neighborhood comprises nearly 20 blocks of craftsman-style homes, cottages and turn-of-the century architecture.
- Upper Rattlesnake: This area features larger, rural homes on the edge of the 32,000-acre Rattlesnake Recreation and Wilderness areas.
- Other prominent neighborhoods include Captain John Mullan, Emma Dickinson/Orchard Homes, Farviews/Pattee Canyon, Franklin to Fort, Grant Creek, Heart of Missoula, Lewis and Clark, Miller Creek, Moose Can Gully, Northside/Westside, Riverfront, Rose Park, South 39th St. and Southgate Triangle.
The walkability of Missoula is excellent. You can find many hotels, bars, coffee shops, grocery stores, movie theatres, coffee shops, parks and schools within one mile of the city center.
The city features Southgate Mall, which is one of the most popular shopping destinations. The mall hosts various events during the year.
The University of Montana, Missoula is the main campus of the school and is the largest of five in Montana. It encompasses roughly 200 acres, and even has its own ZIP code. The campus is known for being the most scenic in the country, according to Rolling Stone magazine, attracting students in search of a balance between academics and the great outdoors. The school is located at the base of Mount Sentinel and along the banks of the Clark Fork River, allowing students easy access to popular hiking trails.
The University of Montana-Missoula College of Technology is another educational institution in Missoula, focusing on technical schooling in a two-year degree program. This campus offers numerous concentrations that are taught with hands-on training, from cooking and computer sciences to medical care and business.
- Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness: This large natural area is located four miles north of Missoula and is accessible by several trailheads. Home to an assortment of wild animals, including grizzly bears and mountain lions, the remote Rattlesnake Wilderness encompasses almost 33,000 acres, allowing plenty of space for camping, hunting, and fishing. The Rattlesnake National Recreation Area is popular for hiking, and the view from the 8,620-foot-high McLeod Peak is supreme.
- Lolo National Forest: Tucked between the western side of the Continental Divide and the Bitterroot Mountains, this forest includes two million acres of sharp cliffs, lush mountains, raging waters, and more than 20 species of trees. Nearby cabin rentals make it easy for visitors to spend a weekend climbing one of the many peaks, skiing in the winter, or fishing in one of many lakes tucked away in the forest.
- Biking and Walking: Considering this city's myriad outdoor activities, it is no surprise that many in Missoula choose to walk or ride bicycles to get around. The high number of walking and biking paths that wind throughout the city make this easy. The Bike/Walk Alliance for Missoula promotes such transportation by striving to improve the safety and health of those who choose to ride their bikes or walk through the city.
- Public Transportation: The Mountain Line is a bus that operates via roughly a dozen routes throughout Missoula. University students and faculty ride free.
- Highways: Several important highways wind through Missoula. U.S. Route 93 runs south through Idaho and as far north as the Canadian border, while Montana Highway 200 runs east-west through the entire state. Interstate 90 is the longest interstate highway in the country, running all the way from Seattle on the West Coast to Boston on the East, and U.S. Route 12 runs nearly as long, beginning in the state of Washington and ending in Detroit.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Missoula was nicknamed the "Paris of the '90s" by author John Updike, referring to the large number of writers who live in the city. Tourists and locals alike are attracted to the many events and venues celebrating art in Missoula. In fact, this city has been mentioned in several famous books, such as A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean. Other authors who mention Missoula include Chuck Palahniuk, Ernest Hemingway, and James Crumley, to name a few.
- Missoula Art Museum: Established in 1975 and recently expanded, this museum displays a large selection of contemporary art. It is free to the public and provides educational tours, art classes, and an opportunity for young artists to meet with peers monthly and discuss their artistic ideas.
- International Wildlife Film Festival: This yearly event brings together wildlife filmmakers and is the longest running festival of its kind. Approximately 10,000 people attend this event each year, which is considered both an entertaining and educational experience. Those concerned for the planet and those looking to delve further into the world of filmmaking are often attendees at the International Wildlife Film Festival.
- Missoula Children's Theatre: This international touring theatre offers opportunities for young people to get on stage in both plays and musicals. Day camps, classes, and auditions are held frequently.
- The Missoula Osprey are a minor league baseball affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. They play in the Pioneer League.
- The Missoula Phoenix are a semi-pro football team in the AAA Rocky Mountain Football League.
- The 12 University of Montana athletic teams also have a large fan base in Missoula. Men's teams are called the Grizzlies, while women's teams are referred to as the Lady Griz.