Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Portland, Oregon and SE Asia
Bikes: Waterford ST-22, Jamis Quest Elite, Jamis Dragon Pro
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My three all time favorite northwestern towns are Bend, Bozeman and Boise - all are killer mtn biking towns with great scenery, great riding, microbreweries, coffee houses, attractive people... I try to hit one or two of them every summer.
But as for your specific request - Missoula is a great small city, lots to do, university, close to National Forests. It does have some significant traffic due to the two major highways going through, and IMHO, not quite as eclectic and interesting as Bozeman, maybe because it is bigger, but still very nice overall. Weather is very good. It would be a really great place to spend a summer.
Boise is also a great town - the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods are clean, lively and fun, with great restaurants and coffeehouses, and really friendly people - I really like it and the biking is great . However, be aware that the greater metro area is somewhat sprawling suburbs, and dry, hot and sometimes smoggy in summer. There is great biking right through town along the river as well as up into the foothills. Paved or trails, both are great and easy access. An hour away by car is absolutely incredible country, either up hwy 55 through the canyon to McCall, or hwy 21 to Stanley, up into the Sawtooths. The scenery really is breathtaking with rivers and valleys and large animals. And access to the Eastern Oregon mtns is good also, and they are never crowded and smell like juniper. The only real drawback to Boise, other than it is getting big and sprawling, is it can be a long drive to any other major city like Portland, the Bay Area, or SLC. It is kind of just out there in the middle of nowhere, but that is fine if the town is a good fit and you are self-contained.
Reno is just not a favorite of mine so I won't comment either way. But it is close to Truckee and the Sierras and closer to the Bay Area than the others if you want that, otherwise I would go for one of the other two.
Just my two cents.