When summer comes to the Missouri Headwaters region of Montana, that means floating season is here. You can’t go wrong with a little river time, especially when the lazy waters of the Jefferson, Gallatin and Madison come together at the confluence of the Missouri River in the heart of Three Forks to give you plenty of floating and boating options.
Floating is a part of Montana culture in and of itself, and any culture involving warm water and cold microbrews over the course of a long summer afternoon deserves to be explored! Here’s everything you need to know for a day of floating fun.
You don’t need to bring your own canoe to experience the wilds of Montana the way Lewis and Clark did. All it takes is a quick trip to The Canoeing House—just down the road from the Sacajawea Hotel—to get totally outfitted, with everything from canoes to kayaks, paddles and more on offer. All you need to bring is your sense of adventure, plus cold beverages and gourmet bites for the time on the water.
Spend two hours, four hours, seven hours or even longer camping trips out on the river, all coordinated by The Canoeing House so you don’t even have to consider shuttling and logistics. It’s all taken care of for you.
The Canoeing House offers guided canoe trips too, letting you take a deep dive into history, fly fishing, photography, or just the nuts and bolts of paddling. These trips will keep everyone entertained, with options galore to get you immersed in the area.
Floating is a real way of life in Montana, and that makes it easy to get tubes wherever you go. Whether at the local hardware store or the corner gas station, you can find what you need, blow it up, and get splashing around.
Put-ins are around every corner in this region of Montana’s river system, so it’s up to you where you want the water to take you. Just be sure to use designated public access points to get down to the water. No need to fret—you can’t go far without finding one.
On the Jefferson River, experience dramatic limestone canyons as you meander down the slow-moving river. Head out to Cardwell and enjoy the scenic float to the fishing access at Lewis & Clark Caverns, or start there and continue down to Sappington Bridge. With convenient stops all the way to the Headwaters of the Missouri, the Jeff has a route for any floater.
The Madison’s famed Bikini Hatch is a great place to make new (scantily clad) friends, especially if you bring a few extra cold ones. Or the hike up Bear Trap Canyon can make a simple float into a rugged wilderness adventure with the sore muscles to prove it.
Shuttling is best done with friends (and a designated driver, of course), but visitors to the area should check out Shuttlesnap for shuttle reservations. The simple-to-use service connects floaters with shuttle operators all throughout the northwest. It just goes to show that really, nothing should keep you off the river.
If you enjoyed this blog, take a look at some of our other related articles:
- Sacajawea: Better than a Bed and Breakfast
- The 4 Best Historic Hotels Of Montana
- Why a Sacajawea Cottage Makes for a Perfect Weekend Retreat
- Uncovering The Lewis & Clark Caverns: Exploring Beneath The Earth