North Fork Flathead River
The North Fork, considering the rugged and mountainous terrain it flows
through, is a relatively tame river for floating. The entire river in
Montana is essentially floatable, although the area above Ford access
site can have some slow floating and some dragging of the raft during
low water. Canoes, rafts and kayaks all work well for a float down the
North Fork of the Flathead River.
Below Ford river access, the river can be floated pretty much all year.
There are no major rapids from Ford until reaching the Glacier Northern
Flats area, where several small Class II and one Class III rapid exist.
Beyond these rapids, it is smooth, quick flowing water until the confluence
with the Flathead River at Blakenship Bridge.
That said, there are a couple of things to watch out for when floating
the North Fork Flathead River. During high water is not the time to float
this river. As there are no dams on the North Fork Flathead River to
regulate its flow, it runs fast during high water, with huge trees floating
down like little twigs. With the passing of the Moose Fire, which burnt
both sides of the river in the vicinity of Big Creek in the summer of
2001 and then the Robert Fire and Wedge Canyon Fire elsewhere on the
river in 2003, floating trees and downfall are likely to be even more
of a hazard than it has in the past.
Additionally, logjams on the river form each year, in various places.
Currently, several log jams on the North Fork can be found between Polebridge
downstream to the Camar Road Bridge. Always be on the lookout for a logjam
partially blocking the river. As the river makes a lot of twists and
turns, and in a few places becomes quite narrow, surprise logjams can
at times pose a real hazard.
The rapids in the North Fork Flathead River are far from severe, certainly
nothing like on the Middle
Fork Flathead River. That said, the North
Fork twists and turns extensively, and small rapids can be found behind
most curves. These rapids have scattered large waves with lots of conflicting
and swirling currents. While a raft should have absolutely no problems,
inexperienced canoeists may run into problems. An inexperienced canoeist
may have difficulty at times keeping the boat pointed down river in some
of these rapids and waves.
Other than those words of caution, the North Fork Flathead River is
a wonderful river to float. Access is easy, with numerous designated
access sites, and countless unofficial access sites. One excellent float
is between Big Creek and Glacier Rim, a float of about 13 miles. Another
longer float is between Polebridge and Big Creek - just be prepared for
a long, bumpy ride up to Polebridge, as the road is not paved for much
of its length and not very well maintained.
Excellent boats for a float down the North Fork include inflatable
kayaks, canoes and inflatable
rafts of varying sizes.
North Fork Flathead River : River Miles
Canadian Border: 58.3
Kintla Creek: 49
Camas Bridge: 17.4
Big Creek: 15.1
Great Northern Flats: 12
Glacier Rim: 4
Blakenship Bridge (confluence of the Flathead
Next Page : Photos
the North Fork Flathead River
Big Sky Fishing.Com
Top of Page