Montana Fly Fishing
Floating the Gallatin River

Bitterroot River

Floating the Gallatin River

Gallatin River near Big Sky
Photo Use Guidelines

The Gallatin River is closed to float fishing from the Yellowstone National Park boundary down to the rivers confluence with the East Fork Gallatin River, at the Gallatin Forks Access Site. As a result, floating pressure on the river for most of its length is quite low. Except for the whitewater enthusiasts that race down through the canyon stretch between Big Sky and Spanish Creek Access Site in whitewater kayaks and canoes, floating on the Gallatin River is not exceptionally popular.

A float down the Gallatin River provides beautiful scenery, constantly changing landscapes and some challenging whitewater for those who want to try their luck in the canyon stretch.

A float on the upper stretch of the Gallatin River, between the Yellowstone National Park boundary and Big Sky provides for a very scenic float. No rapids are found. The river moves relatively quickly through forested mountains, providing wonderful views.

The whitewater stretch on the Gallatin River is found between Big Sky and Squaw Creek Bridge. A number of Class III and Class IV rapids, along with numerous Class II rapids, big waves, and some big drops all combine to provide for a very wild ride. Experienced paddlers in high quality rafts, whitewater canoes or kayaks should only consider attempting this stretch of the river.

The lower stretch of the Gallatin River, particularly between Stubbs Bridge and Gallatin Forks Access Site, can provide for frustrating floating. A number of diversion dams need to be portaged and the water is frequently quite low in the summer, keeping both the current and the depth of the river very low.

Float fishing becomes legal on the river at the Gallatin Forks Access Site, located twelve miles upstream from Three Forks.

Gallatin River : River Miles

Gallatin River Origin in Yellowstone National Park: 115
Taylor Creek Access Site: 85
Red Cliff Access Site: 77
Shady Rest Access Site (Big Sky): 69
Deer Creek Access Site (above the whitewater): 66
Moose Creek Flat Access Site: 61
Squaw Creek Access Site (end whitewater): 53
Kirk Wildlife Refuge FAS: 46.3
Williams Bridge Access Site: 43
Axtell Bridge FAS: 36.8
Shed's Bridge FAS: 32.5
Cameron Bridge FAS: 26.6
Erwin Bridge FAS: 24
Four Corners FAS: 16.1
Gallatin Forks FAS: 12.6

Next Page : Photographs of the Gallatin River

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