North Fork & Middle Fork of Flathead River | Montana
North or Middle Fork of the Flathead River are good options for intermediate stand up paddle board skill levels. These waters are clear and cold, with peak water season in early June, and low water by mid-August. There are tons of put-ins and take-outs along this meandering river, which stretches from the Canadian border north of Polebridge all the way to the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Grab a guide or go online and pick your float! Pack a lunch, bring friends and family and hit the water. Plan for a shuttle vehicle.
There are several good maps for the local waterways, available at local fly and rafting shops. One of our go-tos is the Flathead National Forest Three Forks of the Flathead Wild & Scenic River Float Guide from the USDA Forest Service. Their intro says "the raw power and quiet beauty of the Flathead River system humbles visitors with the grandeur of the surrounding mountains, pure water, and abundant wildlife and fish..." we couldn't agree more. We suggest picking up a copy of one of these excellent Guides for yourself (which includes tips on Leave No Trace practices, how to store food in bear country, regulations & distance, time and class designations for each waterway) and start planning YOUR adventure!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO- Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species
Glacier National Park Some motorized use – non-motorized use permitted with inspection as per GNP requirements
Glacier National Park: https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/boating.htm
Lake McDonald (Across street from Public Boat Ramp)
May 12 – May 31, 2018
8:00 am to 4:00 pm
June 1 – October 31, 2018
7:00 am to 9:00 pm (Hours adjusted for waning daylight)
North Fork (Polebridge) There are no watercraft inspection stations in the North Fork region. Bowman or Kintla Lake boaters must stop at the Lake McDonald inspection station for a launch permit. After successful inspection, they must proceed directly to their North Fork launch destination.
*North Fork residents should contact the Polebridge Ranger Station for alternate inspection procedures.
Kalispell Region 1 FWP Office (Meridian Ave) Inspection Station *Check website for seasonal hours
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday - Friday
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/habitat/ais/watercraftInspection.html
Typical Class of Water
Middle Fork (West Glacier to Blankenship) I-II North Fork I-II