It seems many people preferred Missoula in its past iterations more than the 2023 version of the Garden City. The complaints I hear are too many people, too many out-of-staters (specifically Californians), too much traffic, etc.

It seems many people want the old Missoula back. I don't think that's happening anytime soon, but a user on Reddit asked the Missoula Sub Reddit page "What city is most like Missoula was ten years ago?"

To be considered Missoula-like ten years ago, I think a city has to hit a few requirements.

  • College town
  • Located in a gorgeous setting
  • Can escape "city" life in a short drive
  • Not overly crowded
  • Hippy-dippy vibes

Keep those requirements in mind as we dive into what cities are most like Missoula 10 years ago.

What Reddit is saying

The top answers were Bloomington, Indiana and Corvallis, Oregon. Both are relatively small college towns with Division 1 athletics.

My first reaction to Bloomington was "What the heck? How is a city in the flat Midwest similar to Missoula?" but I can see some similarities. Bloomington's setting is more rolling hills-ish rather than mountainous but still holds beauty to it. Located in Southwest Indiana, Bloomington is nestled between a number of state forests and not too far from Hoosier National Forest. The population is 79 thousand, comparable to Missoula ten years ago (69,000).

Bloomington and Indiana have similar sports allegiances to Missoula and Montana. Just like how we love the Griz, Bloomington loves the Indiana Hoosiers. Specifically, the Hoosiers Men's Basketball team.

Credit: Andy Lyons, Getty Images
Credit: Andy Lyons, Getty Images

A Reddit user named r/kh406 stated "Bloomington is the Missoula of Indiana - been there and loved it. But there are some serious tradeoffs living in Indiana too."

Another user, r/FancyBeast2000, said "Great people and good times in IN, too.... Just flatter than a damned sheet of paper."

Corvallis was the other mention.

I'd check out Corvallis, Oregon. When I go there it reminds me of Missoula of my childhood, in a good way. - r/MtJack45

A population of 60 thousand people, located on the Willamette River and adjacent to Siuslaw National Forest and home of Division 1's Oregon State Beavers. The similarities are present between Corvallis and Missoula.

"Once you get to downtown Corvallis, you forget where you are because all you see is trees," said Corvallis-born, Townsquare online content director Ashley Warren.

Cred: Visit Corallis, Oregon on YouTube
Cred: Visit Corallis, Oregon on YouTube

Other cities similar to Missoula ten years ago?

Ogden, Utah has the mountains and college town vibes. Ogden is slightly more populated than Missoula was, with over 86 thousand people in 2023, and the culture may be a stark contrast. Missoula loves its bar/brewery scene, whereas Ogden... doesn't. Fun fact, beers can't be above 5% ABV in Utah. But there are some similarities. Both are Big Sky college towns located at the base of the mountains. Both areas are exceptional for outdoor sports.

Portland, Maine seemed like it could be a coastal Missoula, but then it transformed into a touristy hot spot.

Bellingham, Washington has mountains and water. A mix between Portland, Maine and Missoula. Like Missoula, Bellingham is growing, so it may be more like present-day Missoula rather than 2013 Missoula.

St. George, Utah (see Ogden explanation but add a desert to it)

Flagstaff, Arizona reminded me a ton of Missoula when I visited it last year. Just a lot more elevation in Northern Arizona.

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