In the heart of downtown Missoula is a literal dream come true: A Carousel for Missoula. The carousel was created by a local woodworker who agreed to carve ponies for a carousel so long as the town promised that no one would ever take it away. So to this day, the carousel continues to surprise and delight visitors.
Over the course of four years, woodworker Chuck Kaparich and a team of wood carvers, painters, and restorers built a full carousel with 38 permanent ponies, two chariots, 14 gargoyles, and the largest band organ in continuous use in the United States.
The carousel has been operational since 1995. As you go around, each pass affords riders the chance to grab a ring from a dragon’s mouth. The person who snatches the brass ring wins a free ride.
Connected to the carousel is a handful of other attractions as well. The wood shops where craftsmen work on carving new ponies are available for live demonstrations. If you want a few wood chips to take home as a unique souvenir, they are even available in the gift shop, labeled “Pony Droppings.” There’s also a fantasy-styled playground attached called Dragon Hollow. These classic attractions are keeping the magic of old-school fun fairs alive.
Know Before You Go
Rides are $0.75 for children and seniors, $2.25 for adults, and $1.50 for an adult and child sharing a seat. You can ride the carousel from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from September through May and from at least 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from June through August.
It is free to look at the carousel and play in the park. Parking is in a garage across the street, or street parking. The cost depends on where you park.