4 Day Great Bear Wilderness Whitewater

great bear wilderness, white water rafting montana

Rafting the Great Bear Wilderness (Montana’s Last Best Place)

If the idea of paddling through rapids, casting for Native Trout, and camping in beautiful Montana backcountry makes your heart beat faster, then do we ever have a trip for you! Join us on a 4-day Great Bear Wilderness whitewater rafting adventure this summer. You’ll see magnificent scenery, experience fishing at its finest, dine on gourmet meals and enjoy sitting around a campfire under a blanket of twinkling stars.

The Great Bear Wilderness Area was established as a corridor linking the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park. Together, these two remote parts of Northwest Montana form the largest tract of wilderness lands in the lower contiguous United States. Flowing through the heart of this rugged and awe-inspiring landscape, the Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River carves its way through glacial valleys and lush forests. This upper section of the river is one of the most protected and pristine waterways in the United States. We are proud to be the only Montana outfitter permitted to operate float trips on this portion of the Upper Middle Fork.

What to Expect

Our premier whitewater experience happens during June. Until the winter snowpack clears (usually around July 1st), we fly in by commuter plane. We take you on a panoramic flight over the wilderness and then land at Schafer Meadows, a remote, grass airstrip along the headwaters of the Flathead River. The next 3½ days and 27 river miles are spent paddle rafting and camping along the Upper Middle Fork. You’ll experience exciting whitewater and terrific alpine lake fishing (if you choose). The rapids of “Three Forks,” “Spruce Park Gorge,” “Lunch Creek” and “25-Mile Creek” make this a real adventure (class II-V).

During July and August, the trip becomes less of a big whitewater experience and more of a backcountry rafting and wilderness adventure. The days heat up and the river recedes near the headwaters and instead of flying into Schafer Meadows, we access the Great Bear Wilderness at a point where it is navigable via an easy trail. This scenic 2-hour hike takes you through the gorgeous Granite Creek Valley. The remaining 17 river miles of rapids are still fun and exciting though more moderate than in June (class II-III+) and more technical. We use smaller rafts where everyone is paddling and in some cases, can use inflatable kayaks if your group is comfortable with your own watercraft. In addition to rafting, there is also the opportunity at world class Cutthroat trout fly fishing and various side hikes to complete the backcountry wilderness adventure.

great bear wilderness, montana whitewater rafting

Wildlife, wildflowers, wild everything

The Upper Middle Fork home to native Westslope cutthroat trout as do the high mountain lakes in this area. We may take a short hike into one of these mountain-cradled, crystal blue lakes. Wildlife is all around you here. You may see mountain goats perched precariously on rock cliffs, bald eagles soaring overhead, a mother deer and her fawn drinking from a stream and blooming wildflowers in meadows along the river.

Please keep in mind this is mainly a river rafting trip and not a fishing trip, although there are opportunities to fish in camp and during lunch stops. If you’re interested in an exclusive fly fishing trip, we can customize the trip for your group. We’ll focus on your interests – whether it be rafting, fishing, hiking or exploring the great natural wonder of the Montana wilderness. Our agenda is subject to change due to trail conditions, weather, water levels and group interests.

Mother Nature is Calling

You’ll love the thrill and excitement of the rapids and you’ll appreciate the serenity of the calm stretches of river amid Mother Nature and all her splendor. It should not be forgotten that this is a “wild” river, and as its classification implies, it should not be taken lightly. We recommend you be in good physical condition for this trip.

Trip meets at 8:30 am at the Glacier Outdoor Center. Time varies depending on the hike/flight schedule.

Due to the constraints involved with wilderness travel, we ask that you limit your baggage to 40 pounds per person. This trip is limited to adults over 16 years of age only prior to July 1 and 12 years of age after July 1.

Departs 8:30am
Trip Length 4 Days
Departure Dates Rafting Only from June  20th- 27th
Fishing Only from July to Mid-August (Depending on water levels)
River Rating Class III-IV
River Miles 17-27 (27 in June high water when access is from Schafer Meadows; 17 later in the season when access is from Granite Creek)
Age Limit 16 in June high water; mature 12 rest of season
(dependent on weather and water conditions)
Rates Please call for pricing
*prices do not include 8% service fee
Waiver Download Waiver Here
License Montana fishing license is required and available at Glacier Outdoor Center:
$42.50 for 2-day license.
$73.50 for 10 day license.


Or, contact us to learn more about the Great Bear trip: