Montana Fly Fishing
Floating the Bitterroot River

Bitterroot River

Floating the Bitterroot River

Floating on the Bitterroot River
Photo Use Guidelines

The Bitterroot River offers the rafter or floater an enjoyable trip down one of the more scenic rivers in Montana. The Bitterroot Valley is wide and lush, offering the floater excellent views into the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains.

The best floating on the Bitterroot River begins at the confluence of the East and West Forks, near Connor. From Connor, the river flows for more than 80 miles to its confluence with the Clark Fork near Missoula. Except for several in-stream obstacles, the river has no whitewater stretches, allowing for anyone to float the river safely, whether it be by raft, drift boat or canoe.

The upper stretch of the river has moderate flows. Several diversion dams are found in the upper stretches of the river near Hamilton that can be either easily portaged or floated through during higher water.

The Bitterroot River continues with a moderate flow until it nears Corvallis. In late summer during low-water years, the section of river between Corvallis and Stevensville can become very slow due to irrigation demands. This stretch of the Bitterroot River may not even be floatable during very low water periods. Before floating this stretch of the river in late-summer, be sure to check current river flows and inquire at local guide shops for the latest river conditions.

Below Stevensville, the Bitterroot River picks up more flow and floating can resume without any problems. Just below Stevensville, the river flows through the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Sanctuary, providing great opportunities for wildlife viewing.

After several miles, the Bitterroot River leaves the wildlife refuge and continues on towards the Clark Fork without interruption, with slightly slower current flows found during the last ten-mile stretch.

Bitterroot River : Selected River Miles

Listed below are selected river miles for the Bitterroot River in Montana. Clicking on any of the links will provide more detailed information about each fishing access site (FAS).

Confluence of West and East Forks Bitterroot River: 83
Hannon Memorial FAS: 81.8
Wally Crawford FAS: 67
Demmons FAS: 57.4
Woodside Bridge FAS: 54
Tucker Crossing West FAS: 47.3
Bell Crossing FAS: 40.6
Bass Creek FAS: 30.2
Florence Bridge FAS: 23.4
Chief Looking Glass FAS: 21.4
Lolo: 10
Highway 93 Bridge: 5
Confluence with Clark Fork: 0

Next Page : Bitterroot River Photographs

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