Rivers We Run

Flathead River, Fly Fishing Montana

The Flathead River system is a fragile environment of clear mountain streams, vast forests and a variety of threatened and endangered species. The river possesses such outstanding qualities that in 1976 Congress added 219 miles of the Flathead to the nation’s Wild and Scenic River System. Glacier Raft Company is proud to offer guided trips on the Middle Fork (including the Upper Middle Fork) and North Fork of the Flathead.

Middle Fork of the Flathead River (Recreation Section)

The Middle Fork originates in the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness and flows northwesterly to form the southern border of Glacier National Park in northwest Montana. The Middle Fork offers a unique way to experience the Park’s majestic beauty. In the spring and early summer there is good whitewater on the Middle Fork. At this time of year the whitewater is at its peak with Class III rapids. By late July the rapids have moderated to fun-filled Class II-III. The Middle Fork has excellent fishing with the unique Westslope cutthroat trout (a native fish of the Flathead River System) being the primary fish. The Flathead is one of the few fisheries for this type of fish. There are also some rainbow trout, lake trout and whitefish in the rivers.

North Fork of the Flathead River

The North Fork originates in Canada, and as the river flows southerly into Montana, Glacier National Park lies to the east and the Flathead National Forest, state lands and private lands border the west side. The river flows 58 miles through Montana before its confluence with the Middle Fork. Floaters find the views scenic and the water clear. Peak water is in early June, with low water by mid-August. Whitewater ratings range from I-II.

The North Fork provides prime habitat for the fish and invites you to drop your line in a variety of water conditions, be it drifting a fly across a deep slow moving pool or laying your line out along the tail of a fast moving riffle. The North Fork has good fishing with the unique Westslope cutthroat trout (a native fish of the Flathead River System) being the primary fish. The Flathead is one of the few fisheries for this type of fish. There are also some rainbow trout, lake trout and whitefish in the rivers.

The North Fork is famous for its spectacular views, crystal clear waters and an abundance and variety of wildlife and is an excellent place to spot wildlife. Bald eagles and osprey are common and floaters often spot black bear, moose, grizzly bear, elk and deer.

Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River (Great Bear Wilderness Section)

In 1978, the Great Bear Wilderness Area was established as a corridor linking the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park. Combined, these wilderness areas total approximately 3 million acres, the largest tract of wilderness lands in the lower contiguous United States. Flowing for nearly 50 miles through the heart of this rugged and beautiful landscape, the Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River carves its way through the glacial valleys and lush forests of Northwest Montana. Known as Montana’s mightiest river, this upper section of the river is one of the most protected rivers in the United States. Years of hard fought conservation efforts have kept this the most pristine river in the United States. While being renowned for its exciting whitewater, the Middle Fork also boasts of excellent fishing, spectacular beauty and abundant wildlife. Glacier Raft Company is proud to be the only Montana outfitter permitted to operate float trips on this portion of the Upper Middle Fork. This is truly some of the best fly fishing Montana, and the country has to offer!

The Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River is accessible only by air, horse or foot. In a country where so many of our great rivers are dammed and their flow regulated by government rather than nature, there’s a special magic about the Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River, part of the nation’s Wild and Scenic River System, and all its natural free-flowing splendor.