SADDLE UP, PADDLE OUT, AND SOAK IT IN
Summertime is in full swing; time to saddle up, paddle out, and soak it in. It’s hard to think of Missoula as anything other than the perfect year-round town but the height of this season in particular brings a certain sweetness to the air. Ripe and ready for the taking. It’s the perfect time to take some steeds out on the trail or grab a tube and some friends and head down to the river. It might even be time for some rest and recovery after that wild family vacation or romantic getaway. No matter your reason, this community has you covered.
There are more than 22 miles of trails in the city, and that’s not including the well-trodden paths at Flying H Stables where experienced guides take riders through fields and streams on a daily basis. Expert or beginner, your level of expertise won’t keep you away from their 120-acre farm. There are horses of all calibers to ensure your ride is safe and enjoyable.
While most local riders head down into the Bitterroot Valley for gaming and trail riding, there is also a running list of events for riders at the Missoula Equestrian Park located on North Avenue. Have your own horse and looking for a place to put that spring training to use? From cross-country to dressage to stadium jumping, the park is a horse haven as well as being a treasured addition to the Missoula County Parks and Trails program. On July 26-27 the park welcomes National Barrel Horse Association District 6 racers and Open Buckle Show competitors. Updates and more information can be found at MissoulaEquestrianPark.org.
One of the best—and most popular—activities in the area is river tubing and rafting. It’s a downright delicacy this time of year. During a two-month window, Missoulians and visitors can rent tubes and rafts just a stone’s throw from the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers. Local outfitters like The Trail Head and Outdoor Supply & Rental are old hat by the time July rolls around. They’re gearing up and keeping their eyes on the water levels, stacking up rental tubes the night before.
“We get up to about 100 rentals. Sometimes they’re all gone before 9:30 a.m.,” says Toby McGuirl, the owner at Outdoor Supply & Rental. He’s talking 100 rentals per day during July and August. Our advice? Get there when they open or invest in a high-quality tube or raft for yourself. River accesses are every few miles along the Bitterroot, Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers but a favorite local stretch is Whittaker Bridge to Johnsrud Park. The river will wind you through Thibodeau Falls, which are the Blackfoot’s most popular rapids, and is best enjoyed in small parties of two or three. For larger parties and a slower pace, the Clark Fork is hands down the best lazy river around. Brochures and maps are supplied at most local outfitters.
Soak It In
Finding a peaceful place to rejuvenate doesn’t prove too difficult with the inescapable mountain views as a backdrop, but maintaining inner balance can be challenging at times. Hot House Yoga on North Higgins Avenue believes that summoning your inner yogi atop a paddleboard might just do the trick if you’re looking to refresh and recharge in the July heat. They offer hour-and-a-half-long sessions that take place just beyond their studio location near Brennan’s Wave. A small group of six people will join the instructor in a paddle warm-up before anchoring out and testing their balance against the slow slaps of the Clark Fork River. The water acts as a truth teller, indicating where your body is applying more pressure and forcing small shifts in weight to achieve perfectly balanced positions. Mind, body, spirit, and a bathing suit is all you’ll need.
Known for its colorful community and love of local artistry, Missoula is the perfect one-stop shop. With a 360-degree view and temperatures rising high into the 80s and 90s, the valley is singing the song of summer and it’s music to our ears. Join your neighbors on July 18 as the city participates in the fourth annual Northside/Westside Block Party, an event hosted by Zootown Arts Community Center, at 3 p.m. on North First Street. Play, eat, drink and savor this sweet spot while the sun is high and the water is low.