Missoula, Montana / Part 1: Big Sky Country

Click image to see full article (Copyright Mabuhay Calgary)

 Published by:  Mabuhay Calgary

February 2012, 5th Edition Volume III

Copyright: Mabuhay Calgary

Perhaps because of its wide, vast, open land, Montana is known as Big Sky Country.

When I heard the famous and talented editorial and com­mercial photographer Zack Arias would be teaching in a town called Missoula I immediately jumped at the chance to take an eight-hour road trip to Missoula to learn from him.

Missoula is in the centre of a few mountain ranges so it is sometimes described as the “Hub of Five Valleys.”

The photography school, Rocky Mountain School of Photography (RMSP) holds many weeklong photography workshops and my chance to learn from the best was com­bined with the desire to hit the road and enjoy the beau­tiful landscapes.

The best time to drive to Missoula from Calgary is dur­ing the summer. The most scenic of routes is the Going-to-the-Sun Road which is only accessible during the spring and summer. The Going-to-the-Sun Road lets you drive through the heart of Glacier National Park.

From Calgary, drive south on Queen Elizabeth Highway to Fort MacLeod. From Fort MacLeod, cross the US-Can­ada border to US 89. After crossing the border, St. Mary Resort is about an hour away which is the entrance to the Going-to-the-Sun-Road.

After driving through Gla­cier National Park (careful you’ll spend hours driving through the park just taking pictures) keep driving south on Highway 2 then Mon­tana Highway 206. Stay on a southern heading through various highways and you’ll be in Missoula after about three or four more hours.

Missoula is a nice quaint town with a vibrant arts cul­ture. While I was in Missoula I noticed a big gap in age differ­ence amongst the people. The two major age groups looked to be in their 20s and 60s.

Another very noticeable trait was the more than usual number of Subaru cars. About every third or fourth car on the road was a Subaru. I was told by the locals that the Subaru all wheel drive cars are a staple for commuters during the winter snowfalls.

During the summer another major mode of transportation around Missoula is the bicy­cle. For every car on the road it looked like there were three bikes just around the corner.

Because Missoula is a Uni­versity town I quickly saw why there was no shortage of nightlife. The streets are usu­ally alive with people in pubs enjoying live music till the wee hours of the morning.

During the day there are many things to do. If you like to shop, there are many in­teresting and odd gifts found at the local Army & Navy or the Import Market on West Broadway Street.

Sightseeing and hiking is just a short car ride away as the town is nestled in many valleys and mountain ranges.

There are many choices of restaurants from fine dining to the quick sandwiches and subs at Jimmy John’s Gour­met Sandwiches. To top off a good meal, visit the famous Big Dipper homemade ice cream shop on South Hig­gins. Try their chai shake and you will fall in love.

A week in Missoula made me realize that the people are what makes Missoula spe­cial. Missoula offers much more than flashy theme parks, slick tourist traps and corporate attractions. There is no better place than Mis­soula for exploring who you are and growing as a person.


More of Jeff’s pictures:


Missoula Visitor’s Bureau


Import Market Store

www. theimportmarket.com

Big Dipper Ice Cream


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