Years ago, my in-laws gave me a GoPro, and I’ve brought it along on a lot of paddling trips. I’m not great at editing video and GoPro footage is notoriously mediocre. That being said, I hope these videos provide some value for folks wondering what some of these spots are like at a certain level.
Big Hole River – Fishtrap Ck. to Dickie Bridge and George Grant to Maiden Rock
I had a blast running a couple sections of the Big Hole back in 2018. What a neat river. Fun whitewater, scenic setting, great access and easy camping. Flow in video: ~ 5,550 CFS at Melrose (Wise River is a closer gauging station for the runs in this video, but historical flow data wasn’t available; I’d recommend checking that station if you’re planning a Big Hole float. This was during pretty high water in Mid-June 2018).
The Blackfoot River – Russell Gates to Roundup
Man…I LOVE the Blackfoot River. Slow and meandering (and woody!!!) up high in the drainage, it picks up speed as it heads towards Missoula. The section from Russell Gates to Roundup is particularly fun and culminates with the Class III Roundup Rapid. Flow in video: 1,290 CFS @ Roundup
Blackfoot River – Thibodeau Rapid
Thibodeau is the last major rapid on the Blackfoot. It’s a fun Class II/III that’s not super hard, though I’ve fallen in a few times. This particular run included an impromptu 360, but I ran it clean. It was mid-October and we wore wetsuits. Mostly, it was shallow. I actually nailed a rock and super-manned off the board at a different rapid on this stretch. I’m super glad I was wearing a helmet and pads. Flow in video: 600 CFS @ Bonner
Clark Fork –> Blackfoot River Confluence
The Clark Fork meets the Blackfoot in Miltown State Park. It’s a cool restoration success story and a fun paddle. As the river flows through the old reservoir site, a series of rock structures and boulders add habitat for fish and waves and drops for paddlers. It all culminates just above the confluence proper. It’s easier at high water but there’s a line all season. Flow in video: ~1,750+- CFS @ Turah
Clark Fork River – The Alberton Gorge
The Gorge is Missoula’s premier whitewater run. I typically wait until later in the season for the water to drop and have a blast with the Class III rapids scattered throughout this challenging and fun run. Flow in video: ~1800 CFS @ Below Missoula
The Dearborn River – Hwy 287 to Missouri River
The Dearborn…What a river. You have to hit the Dearborn early in the year, ideally before mid-June when water withdrawals dewater it. With the right gear and willingness to spend a long day paddling, it is a world-class run. Gorgeous scenery, fun Class I and II paddling, tight slot canyons and more make this an awesome paddle. Just be aware that most of the land bordering the river is private. Don’t trespass and always pack out what you pack in. Flow in video: 290 CFS
Middle Fork Flathead River – Paola to Cascadilla
I got so mesmerized by the amazing rocks under the water that I didn’t keep my eyes downriver, got hung up on some cobbles and slipped off the board on this short clip from a Middle Fork of the Flathead run in mid-August 2018. We ran from Paola Creek to Cascadilla. Flow in video: ~ 2,700 CFS @ S. Fork Flathead Near Columbia Falls
Rock Creek – The Dalles
Rock Creek is only 25 miles from Missoula. It’s primarily known as a wade-fishing stream and fishing from boats is prohibited from July 1 through November 30. But that doesn’t mean boats (or boards) are prohibited! The Dalles is a fun whitewater run in the middle stretch of the river. The upper river is fast but pretty smooth, and the lower river is fast with some sharp turns, logs and wave trains. Be sure to watch for rocks just under the surface, log jams and wade anglers. Flow in video: 560 CFS
Yellowstone River – Yankee Jim Canyon
The Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in the Lower 48. More than 700 miles of it runs through Montana and it gets its start in Yellowstone National Park. Shortly after exiting the Park near Gardiner, MT, the river squeezes through Yankee Jim Canyon. A handful of exciting Class II/III rapids punctuate the run, though at lower water, none are that scary. Definitely wait until lower water later in the summer. Flow in video: 2,400 CFS @ Corwin Springs
Mineral Peak Bike-SUP Adventure
One August, I packed up my board and rode my bike from my house up through the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and the Lolo National Forest down to the Blackfoot River. I broke down my bike and paddled all the way home, taking off the Clark Fork just a few blocks from my house. It was a fun adventure and I made a goofy video about it. I love combining different sports, in this case, light-weight camping, biking, and paddling. Motor-free too!