Rafting the flathead river

Rafting the flathead river
Video Rafting the flathead river

Wondering what the best season for rafting here in Northwest Montana is? The time of year you book your trip will have a dramatic impact on what your rafting trip is like. The Wild and Scenic Middle Fork of the Flathead changes drastically from spring to fall. Choosing the right time, will help give the trip you are looking for.

Mid-May through the beginning of July is an incredible time of year for white-water rafting here in Glacier Country. Through July, the river clears up into its Glacial Blue color. The fly fishing is amazing which makes it a beautiful time of year in Glacier National Park.

Spring Season River Rafting

In May through June, you’ll find the blooming flowers, bear grass, and cooler temperatures. This will make for a very fun and splashy scenic trip along the southern border to Glacier National Park. As the season rolls into July the water is amazingly clear and the warmer temperatures lend themselves to pleasant camping along the river.

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The Middle Fork of the Flathead River is a free-flowing river, meaning there are no dam controls so the amount of water in the river is dependent on the snowpack. The river rises as the snow melts, and the volume of water in the river becomes lower as the season goes on.

The Free Flowing Middle Fork of the Flathead

The other consideration when booking early season trips is the higher spring water levels typically mean a more thrilling white-water adventure. The Wild and Scenic Middle Fork of the Flathead River has several stretches of flat water, but also many fun splashy sections with many big challenging rapids. Water levels are typically peaking around the first week or two of June.

Due to the free-flowing nature of the Middle Fork, gauging how big the rapids will be, is truly dependent on the snowpack. The snow accumulating in Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex mountains fills the river in the spring. More snowpack in the mountains equates to more water in the river, more water in the river means bigger rapids, and the bigger rapids mean a more thrilling white water rafting ride.

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If you are yearning for an exciting river adventure with thrilling whitewater rapids along Glacier National Park, aim for an early June trip.

Mid-Season River Rafting

As the season goes on, the water levels will start to taper off in July and the river becomes a more family-friendly experience. July and August are great mid-level rafting trip on the Flathead River. This is when we start to offer our youth white water camps. The river flows are friendly enough to let the thrill-seekers try their luck on one of our inflatable kayaks in the whitewater. The warmer summer air temperatures make the cold river water refreshing.

The rapids through the John F. Stevens Canyon are thrilling, fun and splashy. The lower water opens up more gravel beaches for kids to play on and enjoy swimming during our full day and dinner trips. If you are looking for a trip for you and your family, late June, July, and August are the perfect time of year.

Late Season River Rafting

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September rafting season is a spectacular time of year to spend in Glacier Country. You’ll enjoy blue skies, warm days and cool nights. This time of year is great for inflatable kayaks and smaller rafts. The river flows have dropped from the spring runoff and guests experience the true crystal blue waters. The fly fishing for native cutthroat and rainbow trout is exciting. The clarity of the river makes for a fun day of watching the trout come up and hit the files.

Ultimately the time you choose to book your river trip depends on what you are looking for. The river corridor along the southern boundary of Glacier Park is beautiful no matter the time of year. Therefore, late teens and adult groups have a great time with the early season high water flows. Families with kids along with those looking to relax typically have more fun later in the season. There is truly a season for everyone!

Looking to book a whitewater raft trip, dinner trip, or scenic raft trip? Check out all the options available to you here, and no matter the season, be assured you’ll have a wonderful time at Great Northern Resort Glacier Park Rafting!

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