Best Rafting in Montana
Trying to find the best rafting in Montana? Bivy has great hiking, biking, paddling, climbing, skiing, riding and more, with hand-curated trail maps, as well as detailed driving directions.
Montana, Missoula County
10 :26 hrs
Some of the river’s most difficult rapids lie in this section of the Blackfoot River. About 3 miles downstream from Russell Gates Memorial watch for a few drops with big rocks and high waves. Most of the drops are followed by big pools for recovery in case of problems. During high water these rapids are fierce and only strong paddlers should attempt this section. A big rock garden that lasts for several hundred yards lies further downstream followed by continuous rapids with little time for recovery in some areas. The last 6 miles is quiet and a nice stretch to catch your breath.
Montana, Mineral County
04 :45 hrs
Alberton Gorge is known for its whitewater and is sometimes referred to as Cyr Canyon. The whitewater begins quickly with a few minor Class II rapids. Watch for steep cliffs to warn you before the solid Class III waves known as the “Ledge Rapids”. Expect big waves, a narrow passage and some jagged rocks. Shortly after are the Cliffside rapids that are bigger and steeper with lower flows. When the canyon narrows the gorge’s most difficult rapids are approaching. There is a pullout to scout out the “Tumbleweed Rapids”. At low flows it’s a Class III and with high flows it becomes a difficult Class IV. It is best to stay left. A few more exciting, but not too challenging, rapids follow. Alberton Gorge changes dramatically based on the water flow, so be sure check with local stations for current conditions. Average conditions can be found between 2,000 and 10,000 cfs.
Montana, Beaverhead County
07 :00 hrs
This section is the most heavily recreated part of the Big Hole River. The fishing pressure is high but the sheer beauty of this portion of the river is spectacular. The river flows through a scenic canyon where bighorn sheep graze along the shorelines and eagles soar high above the cliffs. If you are searching for solitude, avoid floating from mid June through July when the outfitters are in their peak. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks designate specific days for residents, nonresidents and outfitters to float and fish. During high flows this section may be too rough for intermediate canoeists. Watch out for downed trees and logjams.
Idaho, Shoshone County
08 :23 hrs
The put-in location is at Heller Creek & Recreation area off Forest Road 320, and the trip heads through Shoshone County to Spruce Tree Campground. This scenic waterway flows on the St. Joe Schist Gneiss Zone ecological region of Idaho with wonderful scenery of the densely forested Bitterroot Range and Clearwater Mountains. It is a fairly small river with some rock gardens, blind corners, and a whitewater drops. The take-out will be at Spruce Tree Campground near Forest Road 218.
Idaho, Shoshone County
05 :16 hrs
This outing starts at Spruce Tree Campground off Forest Road 218 in Shoshone County. The St. Joe is a relatively small river with a very swift current creating really fun whitewater. The water runs on the St. Joe Schist Gneiss Zone through a beautiful forested canyon in between the Clearwater Mountains and Bitterroot Range. The trip passes by Red Ives Ranger Station, Beaver Creek Campground, and Fly Flat Campground before taking out at Gold Creek. Watch out for possible log hazards.
Idaho, Idaho County
05 :57 hrs
The Main Salmon River navigates through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness from east to west through Idaho. A permit is required between Corn Creek and Vinegar Creek (mile 79), from June 20 - September 7. It’s a scenic, big water river with rolling rapids and excellent surfing opportunities for kayakers. James Ranch and Petes Rock Rapids are the only main sections of whitewater during this peaceful run. The trip also passes by numerous campgrounds, tributaries, beaches and swimming areas. This waterway is perfect for family trips because of the beaches and pools for kids to swim in, plus it happens to be less challenging than the Middle Fork.
Idaho, Lemhi County
06 :20 hrs
The put-in is located at Corn Creek Boat Ramp off Forest Road 30 in Idaho County. From there, the Main Salmon River navigates through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness from east to west through Idaho. A permit is required between Corn Creek and Vinegar Creek (mile 79), from June 20 - September 7.It’s a scenic, big water river with rolling rapids and excellent surfing opportunities for kayakers. The rapids in order are Killum Rapid, Gun-barrel Rapid, Stub Creek Rapid, Rainier Rapid, Lantz Rapid and Devils Teeth Rapid. The trip also passes by Hand Spring Beach, Horse Creek Camp, Bridge Beach Camp, Stub Creek Outfitter Camp, Legen Creek Pictographs, Legend Creek Camp, Spindle Creek Camp, Phantom Camp, Alder Creek Camp, Fawn Creek Camp, and Lantz Camp. This waterway is perfect for family trips because of the beaches and pools for kids to swim in, plus it happens to be less challenging than the Middle Fork.
Montana, Lewis and Clark County
09 :26 hrs
Floating this section of the Dearborn offers a very scenic paddle through many sharp and twisty turns down a canyon with rock walls that tower hundreds of feet high above the River. This is the most popular trip to float and you’ll know why. There are a few rock gardens and exciting rapids that become more difficult when flows are low.
Montana, Madison County
04 :36 hrs
Just below the dam is the rugged and scenic Bear Trap Canyon. This section of the river offers exciting whitewater for experts. There are four sets of rapids with calm scenic waters in between and unmarked portage routes around each rapid. The first rapid known as Double Drop comes up quickly. Then the big set of waves named White Horse Rapids is about 2 miles downstream. After White Horse is the Kitchen Sink, which is the most challenging and dangerous section of whitewater, it is rated a Class IV during normal flows. It has large waves, big drops, lots of rocks and two turns. During high waters this can be a Class V and should only be attempted by experts. The last rapid is a series of huge rocks and is about 4 miles before the takeout. Other hazards in the canyon are rattlesnakes and bears. The BLM manages this section and offers a good map and photos of each rapid.
Montana, Flathead County
09 :19 hrs
The float between Essex Bridge and Cascadilla Creek is scenic and offers great opportunity for wildlife and bird viewing. The forest service limits the number of commercial outfitters but not private floaters so don’t expect the river to yourself. There are a few good rapids that are Class II and a drop called Brown’s Hole that is difficult in high water. Watch for snags and logjams.
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