Location: From the Clark Fork River to South Sixth Street West (north-south) and from South Higgins Avenue to Russell Street (east-west)
Features: Missoula Osprey Baseball in Ogren Park at Allegiance Field
Parks: McCormick Park, Clark Fork Natural Park
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Missoula's Riverfront Neighborhood: Connected by the Clark Fork
By Melissa Fisher for Real Estate Marketplace
Missoula’s thriving Riverfront neighborhood offers something for everyone, including convenience, character and a strong sense of community. Riverfront is in the heart of town, bordered on the north by the Clark Fork River. The neighborhood stretches from Ogren and McCormick parks, through a thicket of houses and apartment buildings, ending at Higgins Avenue’s “Hip Strip” – a hodgepodge of local businesses, including bakeries, breweries and eclectic boutiques with distinct Missoula flair. All the while, running parallel to the Clark Fork, Riverfront boasts incredibly easy access to one of Missoula’s best features, the popular river trail system.
At Ogren Park at Allegiance Field, crowds go wild on Missoula’s perfect summer nights, cheering for Missoula’s minor league baseball team, the Osprey. The team is certainly growing in popularity – they set a new attendance record in 2010, with 87,345 fans attending 37 games throughout the season. And, yes, there is even an actual osprey living nearby, with a nest built atop a utility pole just beyond the ball field. “Ollie” is frequently spotted during the games swooping across the summer skyline.
Right next door to the baseball field, McCormick Park serves as a 26-acre playground for Missoula’s active community. With an indoor swimming pool, basketball, tennis and volleyball courts, a baseball diamond, a skateboard park, a fishing pond and the home of Missoula’s kickball league, it would be nearly impossible to spend a boring afternoon here. The city of Missoula also hosts community classes and workshops at the park. In the past, these courses have covered beginning map and compass skills, water safety instruction and geocaching, among many others. The Montana Natural History Center partnered with the city of Missoula to develop the Silver’s Lagoon Interpretive Trail, which provides visitors information about the animals living in and around the lagoon and river habitat.
With its close proximity to these amazing recreation opportunities, downtown and the University of Montana, it’s no wonder Riverfront is such a popular place to live. Housing here is made up primarily of single-family homes, with several small apartment complexes mixed in along the tree-lined streets. Rentals are popular with the younger crowd, who adorn their brick apartment porches with vintage bicycles, comfortable sofas and prayer flags. The often quaint and quirky houses are filled with families who like to get to know one another, host friendly barbecues, and take full advantage of the many conveniences in the area.
Many of Missoula’s most beloved hang-outs are found in the self-proclaimed “Hip Strip,” located at the eastern edge of Riverfront. Along with the wide array of unique shopping, eating and drinking opportunities, the Hip Strip also provides several ways to give back to the community through its local nonprofits. Some of these organizations include the Missoula Food Bank, where dedicated staff and volunteers collect and provide food for approximately 5,000 people each month, and, in the impressive Old Milwaukee Depot building, the Boone and Crocket Club, which promotes fair and ethical hunting, as well as wildlife and habitat conservation.
Even with all of these attractions, the real heart and soul of Riverfront is the Clark Fork River, continually pulsing alongside the neighborhood, keeping up with the steady rhythm of life for the lucky Missoulians who call this neighborhood home.
Melissa Fisher is a freelance writer for the Missoulian Advertising Department.