Missoula, Montana, is located halfway between Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. This college town of approximately 70,000 people is nicknamed Zootown (for both loving and not-so-affectionate reasons). Missoula is considered a whitewater mecca by kayakers, by summer, and a ski haven for winter sporters. For our family of Montana lovers, we appreciate Missoula for its vast offering of nearby outdoor recreation and natural resources, and for its history. (plus, it’s where we get our RV warranty work done 😉 )
Fort Missoula is a great destination to visit in Missoula!
Missoula is the location of an 1800s military fort, of which 3 buildings remain. Visitors can tour these buildings, as well as learn about the history of the fort and the surrounding areas, and walk the beautiful grounds that are dotted with interesting exhibits.The fort grounds are open all day, every day, and are free. Visiting the indoor museum is very inexpensive with entrance fees being just $1 for students (under 6 are free), $2 for seniors, and $3 for adults, with a max of $10 per family.The main museum building offers 5 different galleries, and a film about the history of the area. Our family always tries to take in any informational footage first as it gives even the youngest kids some background on the location.
The kids enjoyed learning about the timber industry and its role in the growth of Missoula…The museum grounds are filled with a vast assortment of exhibits. With 20 different stops to the tour, some of which are museum buildings filled with displays, a visit to the museum can take just a quick hour’s walk through, or all day if you love to read the accompanying information!
The grounds offer a look into Missoula’s rich history, and visitor’s can self-tour the campus at any time. If you will be visiting when the main museum is closed, you can still have a great self-guided tour! A downloadable brochure, including a grounds map is available here, and you can either print the 2 pages out, or simply access them digitally while you are walking the site. There is also an additional map and exhibit explanation page here.
Any visitor to the region is sure to find the western Montana landscape breathtaking with its untamed vast forests. Timber management plays an important role in Missoula’s past, as well as its present and future, and visitors will learn about the early timber industry at the sawmill display in the Forestry Interpretive Area…
Nestled among the various outdoor exhibits, the fort grounds include one of our favorite exhibits… a military museum!The RMMMH is located in 2 historic buildings that were constructed by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) during the Great Depression. The military museum buildings belong to the Montana National Guard, and the museum displays focus on local military efforts from the Civil War through Vietnam.Of course the military gun collection was of interest to the tribe!
Is there anyone that has never before seen the iconic photo, Raising of the Flag, of the American flag being raised on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima on February 25, 1945? Did you know that, as celebrated as that photo is, that flag was not the first American flag to be raised, that day, in that same place?
The first, smaller flag, had been brought to shore from the attack transport ship, the USS Missoula. Visitors can learn more about that first flag raising, in the military museum’s WWII exhibit…
To learn more about the military museum located at Fort Missoula, you can visit the military museum’s site at FortMissoula.org.
The outdoor exhibits on the museum grounds are open for the public to enter. Including climbing the historic SlideRock Lookout tower…This 1930s Montana-sourced lookout tower was moved to the museum gorunds in 1983, and visitors today can still climb its stairway and peer out from the lookout platform.
Fort Missoula proved to be a great family-friendly destination for our tribe while we were waiting on RV repairs!
While the grounds are always open, the museum is generally open 7 days a week through the summer, and closed on Mondays through the school year. The military museum is open 7 days a week during the summer months but only on the weekends from Labor Day through Memorial Day.
If you would like to look into Fort Missoula more, you can find their main website here. And don’t forget to check out all the other intriguing stops and activities that make Missoula a great destination for travelers; you can find some ideas at the Missoula visitor’s bureau website at destinationmissoula.org.