Fort Missoula Regional Park


Missoula, MT
United States

Project Size
156 acres
Project type
Open space - Park
Site Context
Former Land Use
Previously Developed
Terrestrial Biome
Temperate grasslands, savanna and shrublands
Project overview

Fort Missoula Regional Park was envisioned as a destination park, to serve the greater Missoula area, county and region. The park, which opened in 2018, is the first SITES-certified project in Montana and the largest SITES certified developed park to date, March 2022. The character and programming reflect community-driven values and interests that were carried forward through schematic/master planning (2001), design development (Phase 1 - 2008 & Phase 2- 2012) and park construction (2015-2019). 

  • Protect and enhance unique historic values
  • Encompass as many diverse activities as possible
  • Serve people of all abilities, ages and income groups
  • Park plan and construction must be done with environmental sensitivity
  • Balance developed parkland and undeveloped parkland to support wildlife & open space
  • Maintain natural views and vistas
  • Sensitive to surrounding neighborhoods

The project is located within the Fort Missoula Historic District and adjacent to the original Fort Missoula that was established in 1877 by the U.S. Army.  There are five major historic periods for Fort Missoula; four are relevant to park history, Original Fort Missoula 1877-1900, Fort Reconstruction 1900-1912, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Era 1933-1941 and World War II Internment Camp 1941-1947. As a design guiding principle, the CCC era was integrated into park architecture, material and historic interpretation.  Fort Missoula’s history is preserved for future generations by Fort Missoula Museums and throughout Fort Missoula Regional Park, including a .5-mile interpretive loop with trail connections to the Historic Fort Missoula Museum. The park fosters a strong sense of stewardship, sustainability and quality of life through the preservation and education of a historic and cultural landscape.

Fort Missoula Regional Park features a large events pavilion and three picnic shelters, 10 multi-sport turf fields, a synthetic multi-use turf field, seven softball diamonds, full-service concessions, eight tennis courts and 22 pickleball courts. The park includes three playgrounds, an outdoor fitness center with nine workout stations, over 5 miles of trails, restrooms, parking and a commons area with basketball courts, lawn volleyball, hammocks and oversized yard games.

Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler said FMRP was constructed using nationally recognized standards for safety and environmental sustainability, from energy-efficient lighting, resource-saving irrigation systems, soil restoration and innovative stormwater treatment to the use of local contractors and locally sourced materials. FMRP’s SITES recognition demonstrates the City and County’s commitment to a sustainable system of parks, trails and open space that protects diverse habitats and accessible open space.

Key Project areas:

  • Water: Efficient irrigation system to conserve water by automatically adjusting irrigation rates with the use of rain and soil sensors. Use of bioswales instead of concrete gutters and storm sewers to filter stormwater runoff.
  • Soils:  Soil restoration is the parks’ foundation for sustainability, resiliency and on-going operations and maintenance. The park includes 30 acres of revegetated soils, 24.7 acres of restored soils, 40.2 acres of athletic and sport fields and .8 acres of bioswales.
  • Local contractors and locally sourced materials: Park construction supported approximately 350 construction jobs, and nearly all 150 subcontractors were based in Western Montana. Many of the materials for construction were locally sourced including: recycled plastic bottles from Yellowstone National Park for the synthetic turf, locally salvaged timber for park shelters and local river stones.
  • Park design and construction were based on community-defined values: Through an extensive public process, local residents and the design team developed the following guiding principles: protect and enhance unique historic values, encompass diverse activities, serve people of all abilities, ages and income groups, environmental sensitivity should drive design and construction, balance developed parkland and undeveloped parkland to support wildlife and open space, maintain natural views and vistas, be sensitive to surrounding neighborhoods.

The mission behind the City of Missoula Parks and Recreation is to ensure every Missoula neighborhood is well-served with parks and open space, recreation facilities and bicycle and pedestrian access to the great outdoors. A cornerstone of quality recreation and open space is stewardship of the built and natural environment.    

“SITES principles provided a comprehensive framework for park design, construction, operations and management that will continue to benefit the environment, our local and regional economies, and our community’s health and wellbeing by connecting people to nature, to their communities and to each other,”  Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler said.

Project Team

  • Owner: City of Missoula & Missoula County
  • Construction Manager: Jackson Contractor Group, Inc.
  • Landscape Architect / Civil Engineer: The Land Group, Inc.
  • Civil Engineer | Survey: DJ & A, PC
  • Architect: Oz Architecture
  • Electrical | Mechanical |Plumbing: Associate Construction Engineering, Inc.
  • Irrigation: Baer Design Group, LLC.