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Floating the Whitefish River | Whitefish, Montana

Outdoor Adventures, Canoe or Flatwater Kayaking Area
Whitefish River Trail

The Whitefish River, the outlet to Montana's Whitefish Lake, is a flat stretch of river that makes it a perfect float for the entire family.

For a full afternoon excursion, this calm boat ride encompasses 15 miles of natural beauty that begins at the head of Whitefish Lake and ends where the river intersects the Highway 40 bridge. An afternoon trip provides opportunities for swimming, birdwatching, fishing or just floating. Launch a canoe, kayak or paddleboard from City Beach on Whitefish Lake and paddle to the mouth of the river. Leave a shuttle vehicle at the hwy 40 bridge.

For a shorter paddle, multiple boat launch points along the river allow for varied lengths, and the river is mellow enough to paddle both up and downstream. A popular float is to put in at Riverside Park and paddle upstream to Whitefish Lake. After a rest at City Beach, turn your craft around and have a easy float back to the park.

The bike path parallels much of the river allowing for easy tubing as well.

Northern pike and the occasional cutthroat trout are in the river for fishing. Buy your fishing license at Sportsman Ski Haus.

Lifejackets are required to be on board any watercraft.

Best Access Points

City Beach on Edgewood Drive. Riverside Park on Baker Avenue

Take Highway 93 to Whitefish. Turn right on to Baker Avenue and head north over the viaduct. Turn left at the light onto Edgewood Drive. Follow signs to City Beach.

To put in at Riverside Park, turn left onto Baker Avenue. Pull into the parking lot just past the Post Office on the right.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO- Prevent Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

Whitefish Lake Aquatic Invasive Species Management Program
There are two public boat launch locations on Whitefish Lake; City Beach Boat Launch and at Whitefish Lake State Park. To access the Whitefish Lake State Park, take Highway 93 west out of town towards Eureka. Take a right on State Park Road after the golf course. Follow this road over the railroad tracks. The park entrance will be on your left.

Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination
As of spring 2017, it is mandatory to have all motorized and non-motorized watercraft inspected prior to launching in Whitefish Lake. High risk watercraft must also be decontaminated (Section 13-5-3 of the Whitefish City Code). Whitefish City Beach Watercraft Inspection Station Hours:

Whitefish Lake

Whitefish City Beach Watercraft Inspection Station Hours
May & September 6:00 AM - 9:00 PM
June - August 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM

Whitefish Lake State Park Watercraft Inspection Station Hours
May - September 7:00 AM - 10:00 PM

*Online Self-Certification programs available for Non-Motorized, Hand-Launched Watercraft and Early Anglers.

Whitefish Decontamination Station Hours The Prevention & Decontamination Station has moved to the west side of Hwy 93, across from Don "K" Chevrolet, just north of JP Road.
May & September 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
June - August 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM

*Decontamination must be performed prior to launching in Whitefish Lake—whether or not you have been inspected at another inspection station—on all the following watercraft:

  • with ballast tanks or bags

  • that have been in a mussel infested waterway in the last 30 days

  • with standing water

  • that inspectors deem are too dirty to inspect

    City of Whitefish/Whitefish Lake Institute: