Montana Fly Fishing
Floating the Stillwater River

Boulder River

The Stillwater River : Floating Information

Stillwater River as it leaves the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness
Photo Use Guidelines

Floating the Stillwater River is not for the faint of heart. The wilderness section of the river has extensive whitewater that is Class V or greater, depending on flows. Since no roads go into the wilderness area, the only way to get a boat (in this case, a hardshell whitewater kayak) to the river is to pack it in. It should be noted that most of the wilderness section of the Stillwater River is not floatable - the river is just too narrow, shallow and wild for floating.

Once the river leaves the wilderness area, the Stillwater River still has extensive rapids all the way down to the town of Nye, eight miles downstream from the wilderness area boundary. Above Nye, the river is frequently quite narrow, shallow later in the summer and very rocky. Anyone who doesn't know how to maneuver a kayak or whitewater canoe should shy away from this section.

Rocks everywhere in the Stillwater River at Moraine
Photo Use Guidelines

Below Nye, the Stillwater River mellows out somewhat. While the current is quite quick and many Class II and Class III rapids will be found, the river is floatable by skilled floaters in kayaks, canoes or rafts in all but the highest water.

Rocks are a constatant on the Stillwater River. Later in the summer during low water flows, rocks are found sprinkled throughout the river, requiring some skill in avoiding them.

Late summer rafting can also present problems for parties in large rafts between Buffalo Jump and Cliff Swallow Fishing Access sites. The water is quite shallow in many sections and rocks will be found littering the entire width of the river - especially around Castle Rock and Moraine Fishing Access Sites. Large rafts will likely have a difficult time avoiding them - which is why a small inflatable raft or inflatable kayak is a good choice for late summer rafting on the Stillwater River.

Beyond that, other than a diversion dam that can be avoided near the Johnson Creek Bridge, the river has no obstacles all the way down to the Yellowstone River.

Stillwater River : River Miles

Origin: 68
Wilderness Area Boundary: 46
Buffalo Jump FAS: 35.2
Moraine FAS: 32.1
Castle Rock FAS: 30.8
Cliff Swallow FAS: 23.4
Absaroka FAS: 13.7
White Bird FAS: 5.8
Swinging Bridge FAS: 5
Fireman's Point FAS: 1.9
Confluence with Yellowstone River: 0

Next Page : Stillwater River Photographs

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