What Bert Has To Say About Missoula Metro Area
Missoula, located in the extreme west-central part of the state, is a youthful and progressive college town with an unusual mix of students, ranchers, “jet setters,” and nature lovers. Set against a beautiful backdrop of mountains and scenic valleys, the city is home to the University of Montana. The area is an outdoor paradise, with national forests, ski areas, raging rivers, and excellent fishing and bicycling.
Missoula has become a sort of northerly Jackson Hole. Naturally, that brings relatively high costs of living and housing, but it is still reasonably attractive on a national scale. The university and a large National Forest Service office are economic mainstays; the decline of the forest products industry has left private employment hard to find but has also left cleaner skies. Those looking to Missoula should prepare to contend with long, cold winters and long trips to reach bigger city amenities; Spokane is closest at 200 miles away.
The town is situated in the heart of the Montana Rockies in the extreme north portion of the Bitterroot Valley. The Bitterroot Range rises 5,000 feet to 7,000 feet above the valley floor, 20 miles to the southwest. The main ridge of the Rockies and Continental Divide rise to the east and northeast. The climate is continental semiarid. Mountains to the southwest block moisture while those to the northeast block some arctic air in winter. Summers are dry with moderate temperatures and cool nights. Cold waves can produce blizzard conditions as air funnels through the narrow valleys. This cold air can settle in the valley for long periods, especially in December and January, and bring cloudy conditions. Most precipitation occurs in May and early June as showers and thundershowers. First freeze is late September, last is mid-May.