Missoula’s high season is summer, with scores of tourists filling the town to capacity, especially on weekends. The weather is pleasantly warm, with ample opportunities to cool off by sitting in the shade, tubing down a river, or grabbing ice cream at the Big Dipper. And the calendar is nonstop: Garden City River Rod Run, River City Roots Festival, and Missoula Symphony in the Park. Daily and weekly events include farmers’ markets, concerts in Caras Park, Movies in the Park, Shakespeare in the Park, and Osprey baseball games.
In early fall, the days are crisp, the leaves are turn gold, and the students return ready for events like German Fest, Hempfest, and Maverick Brewfest.
Of course, there’s nothing like winter in Montana, especially if you love the snow. With Snowbowl Ski Area only miles away—not to mention sledding, cross-country skiing, and hot springs right in town—this may be Missoula’s signature season. The New Year’s Eve Fist Night celebration kicks off the year with more than a hundred cultural events, and February sees the arrival of the 10-day Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, which screens more than 100 films at the Wilma Theatre.
Spring is perhaps the most underrated season in Missoula: The surrounding mountains and open spaces become lush and green, flowers and trees bloom, and the valley gets bathed in sun again, often warming into the 60s. It makes for a perfect setting for events like the Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival, Garden City Brewfest (yes, Missoulians like their beer), and the International Wildlife Film Festival.