The Swan River
Detailed Floating Information

Swan River

Floating the Swan River

Swan River at Porcupine Bridge 
Photo Use Guidelines

The Swan River can be a challenging but rewarding float. Flowing through beautiful and remote country, the floater is likely to have the river to themselves. Only a handful of bridges cross the Swan River above Swan Lake, allowing for a secluded and quiet float. The brushy and forested banks also limit the range of river walkers, thus keeping most of the river quite isolated.

The challenge floaters face lies in the form of numerous logjams that frequently block the entire river. Portaging around these logjams is frequently difficult due to the thick foliage along the bank. Additionally, they are often difficult to spot due to the vegetation and the frequent twists and turns of the river. Slamming into one of these logjams is not an infrequent occurrence for floaters.

Above Swan Lake to Lindbergh Lake, there are no serious rapids to worry about, just fast moving water with lots of riffles. During high water, some of these logjams disappear under the water. However, during high water the river can move very quickly, allowing for little time to maneuver around the jams that do exist.

During low water, parts of the Swan can become difficult to float, as the low water exposes ever more downed trees and stumps that are covered in high water.

Below Swan Lake, the river slows considerably, and comes to a crawl almost completely for several miles above the Bigfork Dam. Because of this, canoes and kayaks, as well as motorboats of various kinds, are the most popular boats for this section, unless you enjoy rowing an inflatable raft. Bigfork Dam itself can be relatively easily portaged to the right. The dam itself is hard to miss - big orange balls float across the entire river above the dam.

Below the dam, the whitewater section of the river kicks in. Called the "wild mile", this mile of river is essentially a continual series of Class II-Class V rapids, depending on river flows. Only experienced kayakers and rafters should consider floating this section.

Below the whitewater section the river flattens out for another mile as it runs through the town of Bigfork to the confluence with Flathead Lake.

Swan River : River Miles

Gray Wolf Lake (origin): 100
Lindbergh Lake: 84
Kraft Bridge: 71
Condon Bridge: 64
Cold Creek Bridge: 59
Piper Creek Bridge: 50
Fatty Creek Bridge: 43
Point Pleasant: 37
Porcupine Bridge: 29
Swan Lake Inlet: 23
Swan Lake Outlet: 15
Reservoir Bridge: 3
Bigfork Dam: 1.8
Flathead Lake: 0

Next Page : Photos of the Swan River


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