Unseen Missoula Historic Downtown Guided Walking Tours!

UNSEEN MISSOULA – Our exciting and new tour program! The Downtown Missoula Heritage Program (Unseen Missoula), a partnership of the Missoula Downtown Association, Historical Museum of Fort Missoula, City of Missoula’s Historic Preservation Office, and Historical Research Associates, began offering historical guided walking tours every Thursday and Saturday to the public in June 2018.

The Unseen Missoula Program is currently comprised of two tours: Basements & Back Alleys Tour and Secrets of the Clark Fork River Tour. These two tours promote the heritage and uniqueness of downtown Missoula and works to engage Missoulians, visitors, civic groups, downtown businesses, and property owners in fostering cultural identity and promoting heritage tourism. Check out the summaries below!

*Please contact us if someone in your party needs special accommodations*

Payment is Required Upon Reserving Your Spot!



  • Adult (18-64) – $10
  • Senior (65+) – $7
  • Youth (Under 18) – $7
  • Military (With ID) – $7

Reserve Your Spot Today!




Basements & Back Alleys Tour

September – November: Sat. @ 10:30am

Climb up, down, into and around parts unseen in Downtown Missoula. The tour will explore an assortment of nooks and crannies unseen – basements, 

the secret Bluebird Theater, an historic bomb shelter and barber shop, all located in the gems of Missoula. Tour stops include, but are not limited to, the Hammond Arcade, the Florence, the Montana Building, the Bluebird Building, the Elks Lodge, as well as the Unseen Missoula Museum filled with artifacts, maps, photos and documents from the Missoula Mercantile and more. The tour starts at Caras Park and lasts approximately 90 minutes. This tour is not ADA accessible and includes going up and down 5+ flights if stairs and elevators are not available in most buildings. Please refrain from bringing strollers. These less-accessible spaces remain hidden the majority of the year, so catch them while you can…

  • Please meet a few minutes before the tour start time (10:30am) at the base of the Higgins Bridge Staircase, by the bulletin board. There will be a large sandwich sign indicating where to meet.

Basements & Back Alleys Map



  • “The Elks Lodge building and history was very interesting, as was the Hammond Arcade. I actually found the entire tour interesting and learned new information, despite hav[ing] grown up in Missoula and lived here for years. I really enjoyed the tour.”
  • “I’ve lived here for 43 years and my partner for over 50 and we learned all sorts of things about our town. Also, loved the creepy bomb shelter part. Don’t clean it up!”
  • “Many other cities in Montana have been doing these downtown tours for years, glad to see Missoula catching up! It has great buildings and lots of stories to tell.”

Secrets of the Clark Fork River Tour

Only Offered June – August

Floods, Rails and Trails.   The history of a river flowing through Missoula.

The Clark Fork River has been a barrier, a sewer, a transportation corridor and a cornerstone of Missoula recreation.  On this walking tour you will learn about its history including the people, the opportunities and the oddities that made it what it is today.  The tour, which begins at Caras Park, will take a little over an hour and will cover a mile on flat, level surfaces.  Comfortable shoes should be worn, as well as weather appropriate clothing including hats.

Secrets of the Clark Fork Map



  • “Learning interesting things about Missoula that I never knew before. I also liked the fact that our guide had some specific knowledge about Fort Missoula’s Internment Camp which he shared with us.”
  • “I liked learning that the river walk was not always there and that a lot of people worked hard to bring about its existence. We take so many things for granted…”

Unseen Missoula // September 2017

In September 2017, during Missoula in Motion’s Walk & Roll Week, the Missoula Historic Preservation Commission hosted a one-time tour called the “Unseen Missoula” tour which featured three of Missoula’s historic locations – the Underground Steam Tunnels, a Cold War Era bomb shelter, and The Bluebird Theater. The Historic Preservation Commission expected a turn-out of approximately 75 participants however over one thousand Missoulians came out to take this tour. See what started it all below!


Unseen Missoula FAQ’s

  1. How many tours are there?
    • Luckily, we have TWO TOURS! One is focused on historic buildings (Basements & Back Alleys) while the other tour is centered around the history of the wonderful Clark Fork River. There has been some confusion about the two tours, so please make sure that you are signing up for the specific tour that you would like.
  2. Can I reserve a spot on the Unseen Missoula tours?
    • Absolutely! We ask that you reserve your spot in advance – online or by phone – by the end of the previous day. Go to missouladowntown.com/tours/unseen-missoula to reserve a spot online or call (406) 543-4238 to make a reservation.
  3. The Basements & Back Alley tours are all sold out! Will there be more tours offered later in the summer?
    • YES! We will be announcing new tour dates in August for the fall. This is a program that we are hoping will continue year-round.
  4. Where do we meet?
    • Both tours meet a few minutes before the tour start time (5:30 pm on Thursdays & 11:30 am on Saturdays) at the base of the Higgins Bridge Staircase, by the bulletin board. There will be a large sandwich sign indicating where to meet.
  5. Can I get something to eat or drink before, on, or after the tour?
  6. Where do I park?
  7. How many tickets can I buy?
    • You can buy as many as you’d like, depending on availability. Our capacity for these tours are 10-12, so if you have a group larger than 10 we can get scheduled for a private tour. Please contact (406) 543-4238 to schedule a private tour.
  8. What if I need to cancel? Can I get a refund?
    • We understand that things come up! We will refund the purchaser up to 24 hours before the tour. If there is an extreme circumstance, please call our offices at (406) 543-4238.
  9. What if my kid is under 2 – do they have to pay?
    • Kiddos under 2 years of age get to come along for free!
  10. I can’t find the date on my confirmation email! What happened?
    • Apologies! Since this is a brand new program we have been working through kinks like this. We will be switching over to a more user-friendly ticketing process very soon, but for the time being your confirmation emails will not have your specific tour date on them. If you do not remember your date, please email [email protected] and we will find your reservation for you. Also, feel free to call the MDA office at (406) 543-4238 for additional information.
  11. How long are the tours?
    • The tours are approximately 90 minutes long and cover about a mile and a half on foot.

Unseen Missoula Guidelines

  • Silence cell phones
  • No pets
  • Tell guide if you need to leave the tour
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes
  • Stay with the guide
  • Have the best time ever!

More Missoula Tours!

Montgomery Distillery Tasting and Tour
Lewis & Clark Trail Adventures – Trail Tours (River Pub)
Thirst Gear – Group Bike & Brewery Tour
MT Shuttle – Brewery Tours

Contact Unseen Missoula