9 Perfect Spots In and Around Missoula for Plein Air Painting

If you love plein air painting, Missoula is an outdoor painting paradise. From picturesque rivers and rolling hills to big sky views, there’s something for everyone. In fact, Missoula, Montana, is completely filled to the brim with natural landscapes, so you’ll never run out of things to paint.

What is Plein Air Painting? 

Plein air painting is the art of painting outdoors and in the presence of nature. It allows you to connect with nature and create your own interpretation of the environment around you. This type of painting provides a unique experience that can help you build your skills of observation. 

Plus, it is often said that plein air painting helps to improve your painting composition, color, and light interpretation skills. All of these skills will inevitably turn you into a better overall artist.

If you want to feel more inspired, we recommend buying and shipping out paintings created by other artists. For example, you can get your abstract painting delivered overseas via Singulart. 

9 Perfect Spots for Plein Air Painting in and Around Missoula

You’re interested in plein art painting in Missoula, but you don’t know where to start. Don’t worry; we have you covered. Here are 10 great spots around Missoula, Montana, for plein air painting. 

1. Mount Sentinel

The view from Mount Sentinel is breathtaking, making it a great spot for plein air painting. Bring your paints and brush up on your shading with the contrast of Mount Jumbo and the Bitterroot mountain range below. The lush forest backdrop adds to the beauty of this perfect spot. 

2. Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot River is an ideal spot for plein air painting. Whether you’re capturing the setting sun reflecting off the water or the peacefulness of a summer day, the natural beauty of the river is sure to inspire you. Try to visit when an ice fog is blanketing the National Wildlife Refuge.

3. University of Montana

The University of Montana has some of the best plein air painting spots in the area. With the majestic mountain backdrop and historic buildings, it’s easy to get lost in the beauty of the university’s campus. With permission, you could even paint some of the students or faculty. 

4. Caras Park

The lights of Caras Park make it perfect for plein air painting. The park’s path is filled with art galleries, sculptures, and fountains, so there’s something new to capture each time you sit down to paint. If you’re lucky, you may be able to paint one of the 150 community-wide festivals.

5. Riverfront Trail

A natural beauty, the Riverfront Trail is a peaceful place for plein air painting. Whether it’s the views of the Clark Fork River from downtown or its rolling hills, the Riverfront Trail is a perfect setting for painting. We recommend painting the Missoula carousel or the suspension bridge.

6. Lolo Pass

Lolo Pass is just a short drive from Missoula, making it an ideal spot for plein air painting. With views of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, you’ll spend hours admiring the natural beauty of the area. Take the time to paint the Lolo Pass Visitor Center if you’re fond of wood cottages.

7. Pattee Canyon

If you’re looking for a tranquil setting to paint, Pattee Canyon is the spot. Shady picnic spots, wildflowers, and lush mountain views make Pattee Canyon one of the best in the area. If you’re already in Pattee Canyon, you can take a short trip to Lolo Pass or Lolo National Forest.

8. Horse Haven

With its wide-open meadows and rolling hills, Horse Haven is a great spot for plein air painting. The Montana Wildlife Sanctuary nearby also offers plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife in its natural habitat. It’s also the best way to paint horses that aren’t likely to run too far or fast.

9. Seeley Lake

Known as one of the top spots in the state for plein air painting, Seeley Lake is a must-see. With beautiful mountain vistas and crystal clear waters, this is the ideal place for a relaxing day of painting. It’s the location that’s the farthest away from Missoula, so prepare for an hour’s drive.