Flathead River, Main Stem

Paradise, Montana 59856

Flathead River, Main Stem

Flathead River, Main Stem Professional Review and Guide

"This wide river with aquamarine waters flows tranquilly past the spectacular Mission Mountains. Its almost all Class I water except for a whitewater section (Buffalo Rapids) with Class III and IV rapids immediately below where the river exits Flathead Lake.

Most of the river flows through the Flathead Indian Reservation; floaters age 12 and older need a tribal recreational use permit on the section of river within the reservation. No motors on the reservation (Kerr Dam to 7 miles downstream from Perma Bridge) March 15 to June 30. Motors over 15 horsepower prohibited at all times. No camping on islands within the Flathead Reservation."

Nearby Trails

Flathead River, Main Stem Reviews

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We put in at Buffalo Bridge in the early afternoon on May 9. The water was running about 22.5K cfs the last time we checked before put in, so we opted for the three of us on a raft for this trip. The weather was great when we put in and the river was cooperating enough that we made about 7 miles on the first afternoon and camped upstream from Sloan bridge for the night. We has a bald eagle across the river watching our every move from high in a tree, it was very cool to see that on our first morning. The next morning, our fourth party member silently paddled his kayak into camp. He had been delayed and missed us at put in, but did arrive just at sundown the night before, camped overnight there and got an early start on Wednesday morning and met up with us at the perfect time. Our second day on the river was another outstanding day, clear skies, mild temperatures and the river moving along well enough to allow us to just enjoy the view, relax and do as much fishing as we cared to on our way down the river. Camp on our second night was another beautiful evening and campsi

Flathead River, Main Stem Photos

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Trail Information

Nearby City
158 miles
Easy to Difficult
Skill Level
Class I-IV
Fluctuating water levels caused by dam releases. Occasional big standing waves.
Fishing, Camping, Birding
Additional Use
Flathead Raft Company, Polson; FWP, Kalispell; Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Pablo; Ronan Sports and Western, Ronan.
Local Contacts
USFS: Flathead, Lolo; USGS: Kalispell, MT; Wallace, ID.
Local Maps