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White Water Rafting in Montana: Plan your Adventure Here

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 4/26/2010

White water rafting in Montana makes for a thrilling and treasured outing under the Big Sky. Here, we’ll discuss some of the best rivers to run, give you the proper incentives to make this adventure part of a future vacation plan, and the resources and links to plan a trip with reputable guides.

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    Rafting Montana White water rafting in Montana is bound to rekindle some of that joy and wonder you had as a kid, back when you were invincible, and full of adventurous yearnings. Rafting may not be generally considered an outdoor sport, but it is because it takes constant upper body strength and stamina to keep that raft on course, to avoid careening into rocks, or keep from being tossed over sideways on a rapid. White water doesn’t entail sitting back and lollygagging down a meandering river. Running rapids takes constant vigilance and paddling in synch with your fellow rafters, all at the behest of your guide. The guide is a rafting expert who knows a river inside and out: what is known as the ability to read a river. Therefore, he or she will command one, or both sides, to paddle hard, appropriately, in any given whitewater situation. A trip to Montana should also include some time spent hiking in the back country. Wilderness Backpacking Adventures in Montana will give you some great insights into that.

    Another good reason that it is an outdoor sport lies in the fact that it takes teamwork to shoot rapids and keep the vessel pointed in the right direction to keep from flipping. If someone isn’t doing their share of paddling, the raft will turn over and everybody is in for a chilling rendezvous with unforgiving water, which can either be dangerously terrifying or tremendously exciting, depending upon your perspective. So swimming could be a part of this too, although a move called the corkscrew is the best swimming technique to use if you do get thrown from the boat. That basically means you try your best to keep your arms and head out of the water (your life vest makes this possible) and spin around until you make it back to the raft or can exit the river safely.

    All this discussion about rafting being an outdoor sport, however; is actually moot. The point is that it is extremely fun. After all, amusement parks attempt to imitate this activity artificially with their rides. The experts, along with the safety equipment they provide (helmets, wet suits, life vests, and rescue throw ropes) keep you safe, and are their primary objective is to ensure that you’re having fun. There is no better way to explore the wet and wild wilderness. Any trip to Montana should have a day or two on whitewater, at the very least. After you’ve seen Montana, you’ll likely be a big fan and want to help keep it wild. Loss of Habitat in the Montana Rocky Mountains describes some key issues threatening the sanctity of areas out here, and gives you links to the organizations leading the charge in defending habitat.

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    Resources for White Water Rafting in Montana: Guides, Rafting Companies, and Lodges

    The Big Blackfoot Planning a trip is so much easier these days, thanks to all the readily available information on the internet, which in some cases, includes customer reviews and personal testimonies. All the rafting companies are competing for your business, so it greatly behooves them to provide you with a phenomenal experience. Repeat customers and referrals are what they seek.

    There are a bevy of excellent rivers to choose from, but I’ll highlight some of your best options. Since Yellowstone Park is such a popular vacation destination, the Yellowstone River, the Madison River, and the Gallatin River each offer great white water opportunities, plus they’re all in close proximity to the park. Remember that spring offers the most furious conditions due to melting snow pack. Montana White Water Raft Company provides great trips on all of those rivers. Since Glacier National Park, up on the northern tip of Montana, is another popular destination, you have three separate forks of the Flathead River offering varying degrees of Class II, IV, and V rapids. The Great Northern Whitewater Raft and Resort offers great trips and they also have outstanding lodging services to hook you up with any other Montana outback adventure you’re looking for.

    Over near the western gem of a town, Missoula, there are also some great rivers to run, including the Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork, and the legendary Blackfoot (which is a good choice for those seeking a less intense experience, since it has sporadic, Class III rapids). Montana River Guides will take care of all the details for you there. All this information and recommendations will help you get started on planning a terrific outing. Come see and experience the most picturesque rivers America has to offer, all from the adrenaline-packed vantage point of a raft.