Sunset to list Missoula among “best places” in the American West in February issue

Missoula residents support local food growers at the city’s farmers markets during the summer event. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Second place isn’t bad when it’s decided by a well-read national magazine and involves the best places to live in the American West.

In its February magazine, Sunset will publish its “20 game changers that are redefining the West” as part of its annual “Best Places” issue.

While the magazine’s editors selected Salida, Colorado, as the best place to live in the Rocky Mountain West, Missoula took home runner-up status, along with Cochrane, Alberta, and Reno, Nevada.

“Every year, Sunset embarks on a search for the best places in the West,” said Lauren Ladoceour, the magazine’s executive editor. “This year, our search began by identifying maverick towns and cities beyond perennial centers of change, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.”

While the write-up on Missoula is short, it’s also to the point, featuring an overview of Brennan’s Wave on a summer day at low flow with the iconic Milwaukee Railroad depot rising in the background.

It lists the city’s population at 72,364 and its median home price at $232,700, both relatively accurate.

“The cargo-clad wax poetic about the single-track trails and paddling waters, but Missoula’s also got a geeky side: The new Big Sky Code Academy offers software development boot camps, and the city ranked ninth in the nation for start-up activity in 2017,” the feature states.

For the mountain region, it described Reno as the “Biggest Little City,” one that also features a water park on the Truckee River. The city boasts a population of 245,000 and a median home price of $300,500.

As for the mountain region’s top honor, it noted Salida’s “big city ideas in a rural playground.” With a population of just 5,581, the rural Colorado community boasts a median home price of $322,800.

“Think Northern Exposure, but farther south,” the magazine wrote. “That’s Salida, a one zip-code town that was nearly abandoned back when molybdenum mining dried up – that is, until people realized they could buy a Victorian for a steal, and artists could spend their time creating instead of working an office job.”

The February issue also features “Best Places” in both northern and southern California (Sacramento and Carlsbad, respectively), and it names Albuquerque and Taos as the best places to live in the Southwest, along with Flagstaff and Tempe, Arizona.

Top honors in the Northwest go to Tacoma, followed by Corvallis and Sisters, Oregon, and Spokane.

“The West was founded by pioneers and continues to evolve thanks to that same pioneering spirit as forward-thinking opportunity seekers transform cities and towns into hubs of innovation, big and small,” wrote Irene Edwards, the magazine’s editor-in-chief. “This year’s Best Places to Live list celebrates the places that are thinking smart about their futures, from innovative community leaders to futuristic tech and small business incubators.”