Glacier country, the northwestern portion of Montana, is great for vacations, partly because of all the rivers here that allow for excellent Montana fishing, rafting and other activities. The water here, whether it is flowing through Glacier National Park, or the miles of state forest in this part of Montana, is clean and pristine, just what you’d expect from Montana. Below you’ll find info on the main rivers in this part of the state. Access these areas from Kalispell, Whitefish, or Columbia Falls.
The Flathead River is a pristine glacial river with three different branches: the North, South, and Middle Forks. These rivers combine to form the Flathead River. Originating from glacial run-off, the rivers run extremely cold, especially the South and Middle Forks.
North Fork of the Flathead River
The North Fork gets its start just north of Glacier National Park, in Canada, then flows southward along the western border of the park, right past the town of Polebridge. This medium size river is clear and cold, great for floating and fly fishing. There are special regulations that apply to this river, so check in with local authorities.
South Fork of Flathead River
Originating from deep in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Glacier National Park’s twin to the south, the South Fork of the Flathead River is one of the most pristine rivers in Montana. Because it starts so deep in the wilderness, 40 miles to be exact, you’ll need to backpack, fly or ride in by horseback. Guides for fishing or rafting this river are recommended.
Middle Fork of Flathead River
This river also originates in the Bob Marshall (Great Bear section) Wilderness flowing approximately 60 miles northwest. When it exits the wilderness it forms the southwest boundary of Glacier National Park. What better place for a river to be?
Rafting here can be very exciting. The Middle Fork is one of the most challenging, and sometimes dangerous of the Flathead’s three forks with rapids classified from 3 to 5. Guides are highly recommenced here due to tight turns, crashing and tumbling white water, and several dangerous chutes. Although it may seem too much to bother with, it is one of the most popular of the three forks for both fisherman and adventure seekers. The Middle Fork like the North Fork — is very beautiful and runs clear with outstanding scenery. Special Regulations and Wilderness Regulations apply to this river.
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- Columbia Falls, Montana Vacations