Missoula, Montana

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Missoula whitewater

Missoula whitewater     Photo: Woods Wheatcroft

At first glance, Missoula might strike you as just another sports-obsessed burg like Boulder. Which is not untrue: there are no fewer than three dozen cycling, paddling, skiing, and fly-fishing shops inside city limits (pop. 66,800). But the former lumber town is in close enough contact with its industrial past to have retained its old grit. The University of Montana has outsize influence, adding intellectual vibrancy the city might lack otherwise. At local institution Charlie B's, you can catch a glimpse of what Missoula used to be, lumberjacks and Forest Service employees, doing their best to crowd out today's ubiquitous species: college girls in GO GRIZ T-shirts.

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