Missoula Locals Understand The Challenge These Streets Can Cause
Driving across town in Missoula is an adventure that is not for the weak of heart. There is mental and sometimes physical preparation to make a successful journey. When I was a younger passenger with my father, he would teach me all kinds of colorful language while trying to navigate this town. But there was one thing he would say over and over and that is "it is impossible to make a left hand turn in this town".
Driving in Missoula is a Challenge
I have found, as I have gotten older, and being a driver myself, that he had a point decades ago. It is still difficult to make a left hand turn in this town unless you have a traffic light. It is also hard to navigate this town when certain roads either dead end or change to an entirely different road. Locals know what I am talking about. We aren't talking about small little side streets either, these are main roads that just magically change at an intersection. Here are some roads that some may find confusing. Hopefully this will help you in your future travels.
Orange Street- Stephens Avenue- Orange Street is a major artery that exits off 1-90 into town heading south. As you head south you go around a bend and not only are you now on Stephens Avenue, but Stephens is also known as "Old Highway 93" to add even more confusion.
Mount- 14th Street- An east to west street that abruptly changes at Russell street from Mount Ave, to 14th Street. Then as an added bonus 14th Street changes back into Mount right before Reserve Street.
Russell Street- Hillview Way- The south side of Missoula can be a maze. Russell Street is a major north and south street that changes to another street right when you hit a hill, thus Hillview Way.
South Higgins- 39th- The intersection where Russell St. and Hillview Way change, also sees the change of South Higgins and 39th going east and west. Yes, we have 4 different roads all in one intersection.
Brooks- South Higgins- Brooks cuts right through town and merges with South Higgins right by Hellgate High School. This street has helped to make our "Slant Street Neighborhood" to exist and then just ends.
Madison-Arthur-5th Street- There is a river, a bridge and a one way street involved in this one. Arthur turn into Madison Street as it goes over the bridge. Add in 5th Street which is a one way street and you have the makings of a confusing intersection.
North Higgins- This can be confusing because North Higgins doesn't just end, it circles back on itself or you can turn off onto East Alder, Railroad street, which is split in two because of North Higgins or on West Alder. Are you confused yet.
East Beckwith- Campus Drive- The University of Montana Campus is a smaller maze within a bigger maze. As you head east on East Beckwith you will run into Mount Sentinel. The road suddenly changes at the mountain to Campus Drive.
Dore Lane- 23rd- Dore Lane isn't a major road, but 23rd is a major road that goes up into the South Hills neighborhood. Dore Lane switches to 23rd at the 39th Street intersection.
We also have streets that just end.
South Avenue- South Avenue used to be a major east and west route through Missoula and it was part of the infamous "Malfunction Junction". With the changes in the intersection it is no longer a continuous route through Missoula. If you head east on South Avenue the road eventually will end in the University of Montana neighborhood and you will have to take Maurice Avenue.
South Reserve Street- South Reserve Street ends. One of the biggest and most busy streets ends. Of course most people don't take it to the end of the street, most people will exit South Reserve at Brooks Street, but if you were to continue you will see that it ends, but not where you may think. Most people think South Reserve Street ends at 39th street, but it doesn't. If you go to Meadow Hill School you will still be on Reserve Street, the street actually ends at Briggs.
These are not all of the streets that can cause you problems navigating Missoula. I haven't even touched on the streets that run into the Southgate Mall, ditches or railroad tracks. Safe travels and good luck finding your way around Missoula.