Johnsrud Park is an 18-acre state fishing access site (FAS) on river-left of the Blackfoot River 13 miles above its confluence with the Clark Fork in Bonner, east of Missoula. Amenities include drinking water; vault toilets; sheltered picnic facilities; horseshoe, volleyball, and baseball fields; parking; and a concrete boat ramp.
Johnsrud consists of two distinct but connected areas. The downstream portion is for picnicking and sports, and the upstream portion, where the boat ramp is, is where seemingly all of Missoula congregates on hot summer days, loading and unloading rafts and kayaks and canoes, drinking too much, and stirring up dust with the near-constant parade of trailer-toting pickups.
If the Blackfoot is Missoula's most popular summer-rec river, Johnsrud is Missoula's most popular access to the Blackfoot. The Whittaker Bridge launch is 7 miles upstream, past Thibodeau Rapid and the rock garden of Sheep Flats, making a float down to Johnsrud ideal for kayakers, canoeists and tubers. More sedate floaters can put-in at Johnsrud and drift 5 miles to the Angevine access, 6 miles to Wisherd Bridge, 9 miles to Marco Flats, or 11 miles to Weigh Station.
The appeal of so many options can turn Johnsrud into a summertime madhouse, and in recent years Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has considered ways to relief pressure on the site, and on the Blackfoot generally. For now the river remains permit-free and open to all comers, though please note that glass containers and bottles are prohibited. If you're going to drink on the river—just about everyone does—use aluminum cans or Nalgenes. And even if you're conscientious about packing your empties out, consider dedicating one of your sparkling summer days to the annual Blackfoot River Cleanup, held in late July each year. A river that gets used this hard can use a little help to keep it in the shape that draws so many admirers in the first place.
And not to scold, but one last word of advise: the turnoff from Highway 200 onto Johnsrud Park Road is notoriously hairy in the high-summer months, with anxious revelers headed up from Missoula and sunstroked river-partyers headed back toward town. There have been fatalities, and there have been accidents that escaped fatality by bald luck. Whether you're coming or going, be careful out there.