If you haven’t been to Caras Park in downtown Missoula recently, you’ll find the area greatly changed and improved.

We spoke to Linda McCarthy, Executive Director of the Downtown Missoula partnership about the newest improvements to Caras Park.

“We are in the process of completing our Phase One improvements of the North Riverside Parks and Trails Plan that was completed and fully adopted in 2020, in the middle of the pandemic,” began McCarthy. “This is the community's vision for the parks and trails north of the river from Russell Street to Missoula College. Our organization has partnered with the city of Missoula to implement Phase One.”

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McCarthy spoke of the park’s central location and its importance to the downtown area.

“Caras Park is the city center Park,” she said. “We do a significant number of events in the park; between 80 and 100 events per year. As we've seen more residents are moving into downtown. Over 3,000 new housing units have been built downtown over the last 12 years. More people are using our parks and trails as their play space and their community space, so we're working to diversify the activities that happen in the river corridor.”

McCarthy described the latest improvements coming to Caras Park.

“What we're doing this week is installing a shade structure over the amphitheater seating,” she said. “This is what we would call ‘the ribbon on the gift to Missoula’. We're working with Dick Anderson Construction who is using their apprenticeship program to install the shade canopy. So we'll have six galvanized steel arms that will be put up on Friday, and we have 10 shade sails that will be installed on those structures.”

McCarthy said a celebration is planned for the improvements at Caras Park.

“We should have it completely done by the 19th of August,” she said. “And then on the season finale of Out to Lunch at Caras Park on August 31st, we will be celebrating the completion of this phase and all of the donors, individuals, and businesses that contributed financing to make the project happen this year.”

Click here to see details of the North Riverside Parks and Trails Plan.

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