Healthy minds have led to a vibrant and healthy community surrounding the university.
In addition to being the setting of “A River Runs Through It,” Missoula is known nationally as the home of the University of Montana. Tailgating for Griz home football games is a Saturday tradition in the fall, as are springtime days of sun illuminating the newly greened trees. Throughout the year, the university brings in cultural events, historic exhibits, major entertainment, and world-class athletics. UM also brings a diverse population to this Northern Rocky Mountain town. Among the beautiful tree-lined streets of the University Neighborhood, residents are happy to share their home with the city’s center of activity. Longtime residents, families, professors, and students inhabit the blocks around the campus proper. It is truly a melting pot of the community. The proximity to UM’s activities is a definite benefit to these neighbors. From evening lectures to concerts to basketball games, if you’re looking for something to do it’s all right there. There’s an open-minded attitude among the neighborhood. Perhaps it’s all of the higher learning taking place nearby, but the inquisitive nature permeates. And each new season brings fresh delight and a different energy to the neighborhood, from the colorful autumn foliage to the peaceful snow swirls of winter.
- The University Neighborhood is served by Mountain Line Route 8.
- Free Park and Ride Shuttle service runs from East Broadway and South Avenue to the University during Fall and Spring semesters.
- The Riverfront Trail and pedestrian bridges intersect the campus on the north side.
- To find the public schools in this neighborhood, visit the Missoula County Public Schools website and view the Attendance Boundary Maps.
City of Missoula
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The University Neighborhood is the perfect arena to exercise your mind and your body.
You don’t have to be a student to take part in the college experience. In fact, you don’t even need a car or RV to tailgate. Walk to and from the game and fire up your own grill at halftime. From home, you’ll still be able to hear the roar of the fans at Washington Grizzly Stadium, the seventh largest city in Montana on football Saturdays with upwards of 25,000 fans. If you’re not into waving a foam finger, raising your hand in class might be your thing. UM offers many continuing education classes, including the increasingly popular MOLLI program for students over 50. There are also plentiful attractions for just about everyone, including kids’ events and summer programs, special exhibits at the Montana Museum of Art & Culture, theatrical productions at the Masquer Theatre, and concerts at the University Theater, UC, and the Adams Center. In 2006, the Rolling Stones performed to a sold out crowd in the football stadium.
Campus itself is extremely recreation friendly. Bikes and skateboards intermingle with pedestrians. Just behind the historic Prescott House on Campus Drive, Missoulians and visitors from all over can access the popular trail to the “M” on Mount Sentinel. The “M” trail’s 11 switchbacks leading to the white stone “M” were constructed by UM’s Forestry Club students in 1908. One University Neighborhood resident has even been spotted riding a unicycle down the switchbacks of the “M” Trail. Just off campus, outdoor activity abounds.
The Riverfront Trail intersects with the pedestrian bridge on the north side of campus. Nearby on Jacobs Island is the Missoula Bark Park, where dog owners can unleash their hounds and let them swim in the river, run the trails, and meet and greet other dogs. The trail is also a major transportation artery for University residents to access the Clark Fork Market under the Higgins Street Bridge, Caras Park, McCormick Park, and the ball fields.
On the south side of the University Neighborhood, residents flock to Bonner Park, a sprawling green space covering two full neighborhood blocks. Large shade trees create a cool respite for picnickers and audiences of the weekly Wednesday summertime concerts in the park’s band shell. Playtime in the park is for everyone – there’s a baseball diamond, volleyball court, and horseshoe pit. Griz basketball players have even been known to start a pick up game on the park’s basketball court. Kids can cool off in the splash deck, complete with sprinkler fountains and squirt guns. In addition, Missoula’s REALTOR® community helped fund the construction of a play structure for special needs children in Bonner Park.
The university isn’t the only school in this neighborhood. Missoula’s oldest high school, Hellgate High is also located here. Hellgate brings students from throughout Missoula and adds another youthful element to the area. Often you will see Hellgate football and soccer players practicing in the fields along the river or the cross country team out for a run in the neighborhood.
Because of its central locale, the University Neighborhood is within walking distance of many Missoula mainstays, including the Hip Strip and downtown. Mountain Line operates a free old-fashioned wood-paneled trolley that picks folks up at Dornblaser Field and gives them an open-air lift to the Farmers’ Market during the growing season. While the neighborhood itself is primarily residential, there are some commercial businesses within its boundaries. Breakfast at Food for Thought on Arthur is a student and neighbor favorite. Along the east side of Higgins, Ear Candy is among Missoula’s best places for vintage vinyl. Edge of the World also sells great wax of the snowboarding variety. The nearby historic Roxy Theater plays host to the annual International Wildlife Film Festival every year as well as other cinema and theatrical productions.
While living so close to a major college campus has its distinct challenges, like traffic and parking during the semesters, the energy of the university more than makes up for it. Whether it’s the annual University Neighborhood ice cream social on University Avenue in the summer or the grand Christmas bizarre at the Episcopal Church in the winter, neighbors gather year-round to share in the community that they love.
Several blocks of the University Neighborhood are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but the history goes beyond the homes. Higgins Avenue is named for Missoula founding father, C.P. Higgins–and what a father he was! The streets east of Higgins in the University Neighborhood are named for some of the Higgins’ children, including Gerald, Ronald, Hilda, Helen, Arthur, and Maurice.
Missoula children today owe a great deal of gratitude to University neighbor Rosie Buzzas, a well-known advocate of education within the Missoula community and founder of the Flagship Program. For 30 years she has been the backbone of the program that provides education activities for thousands of local students during non-school hours. Read more about Flagship and Buzzas’ contribution to the Missoula community here.
The University Neighborhood is a place of varying perspectives and it all just depends on how you look at it.
One of the more unusual ways is quite literally from above. The Missoula Hang Gliders’ Association has been launching flights from atop Mount Sentinel for over three decades with a brief hiatus in 2007 due to safety concerns with airline flight patterns. The colorful gliders can be seen soaring over the University Neighborhood in the summer months and often land on the University Golf Course across South Avenue. Read more about the flights of fancy taking place above the neighborhood here.
Many of us remember the various ways we kept up on the comings and goings of our hometowns and neighborhoods. Whether it was through the grapevine, a community group, or the weekly newspaper, we had a resource for information and an outlet to share our thoughts. The LiveMissoula! neighborhood blogs revisit that concept in a new way by providing an open, online destination where neighborhood stories can be posted and shared. To contribute to the discussion, we encourage you to add your comments. If you have an idea for a story, contact the Neighborhood Volunteer Advocate listed under each neighborhood’s Fast Facts pages.