NewsMissoula County


Input sought for interpretive sign project along Missoula’s downtown riverfront

Public open house planned for Friday, March 3
downtown missoula air
Posted at 1:26 PM, Mar 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-06 10:47:02-05

MISSOULA - The newly designed Caras Park in downtown Missoula isn't quite finished yet and the next phase involves you.

Missoula Parks and Recreation wants to know what you think are the important stories to share as people enjoy our downtown parks — and the time to talk is now.

“Most people would probably be surprised by how many requests we get to put signs in parks,” noted Missoula Parks and Recreation administrator Donna Gaulker.

They are the three most visited parks in town — Caras Park, East Caras Park and Bess Reed Park along Ron’s River Trail — with the river, the mountains, and Missoula as backdrops.

Bess Reed Park
Bess Reed Park in downtown Missoula is among the areas where interpretive signs will be installed.

Imagine all the things that happened here over the centuries.

“The desire to tell our community’s stories in those parks is really high,” Gaulker told MTN News.

Missoula Parks and Recreation, the Downtown Missoula Partnership, and Destination Missoula are working to develop a Media Implementation Plan.

The idea is to create interpretive signs along the riverfront, to tell the stories of our past or future.

Downtown Missoula air
Missoula Parks and Recreation wants to know what you think are the important stories to share as people enjoy our downtown parks. People can offer up public comment until March 17, 2023,

The possibilities are so vast that they need your help to narrow it down.

“What part of history should we tell? And are we going to tell stories about human history?” Gaulker said. “Or are we going to talk more about natural history and processes? Are we going to talk about our present as we look into our future? Are we going to talk about science and how ecosystems work in Missoula?”

Historical Research Associates is also on board with the project.

“My favorite part about interpretation is helping people connect with physical spaces that they’re in. And so, if you’re looking at Beartracks Bridge, I want you to understand where its name comes from and how this is the third, fourth, fifth iteration of how people crossed the river and what does that mean for us. And so, it’s really understanding where we are based on where we’ve been." - Kayla Blackman, Historical Research Associates.

A public meeting is set to take place on Friday, March 3, 2023, to gather ideas on what this community wants the world to know about Missoula and the things we find important. All ideas are welcome because as Gaulker told us, this is your place.

“We are embarking on a public process because we want residents to tell us what they want to learn about when they visit these parks.”

People can share their ideas for interpretive signage to be installed in Missoula's downtown riverfront parks through Friday, March 17, 2023 at

Comments are also being accepted during the March 3 open house which will take place from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the Unseen Missoula Pop-Up Museum in the Hammond Arcade basement at 101. South Higgins Avenue.