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Lakes & Rivers in Montana

In Montana, A River Really Does Run Through It

As Normal Maclean wrote, in Montana there is no clear line between religion and fly fishing. Maclean’s Montana may have been in the 1940s, but its spirit lives on today, as the state is home to wild rivers, gleaming lakes, and healthy native fisheries.

Montana’s rivers are the stuff dreams are made of. The Flathead sends glacial silty waters to meet the Clark Fork while the Blackfoot offers rocky-bottom traction for shore-bound dry fly fishers. In southwest Montana, the Big Hole is famous for its trout fishing, while the Gallatin pours from the high country just beyond Yellowstone National Park’s gates.

Those wielding a standup paddleboard find excellent paddling on the Madison, while anglers from all over come to cast into the upper Missouri.

Water Sports in Montana

Summer Fishing, Rafting & Water Parks
It’s not summer until swimsuits are put into use – and that’s easily done in Montana. Water parks, whitewater rafting excursions, and fly-fishing adventures are rampant in Big Sky Country.

Kids love a waterslide, so why not head to Missoula for a day at Splash Montana Water Park? Open for summer in early June, Splash Montana features three giant waterslides, a lazy river, and The Lake – the Olympic-sized pool offering 50-meter and 25-yard lap lanes.

Grab lunch at the Crazy Creek Café, or let the kids loose in the children’s play area.

If you’re looking to get your feet wet – literally – Montana is home to some of the best fishing spots in the country. Anglers, head to Three Forks – just 30 miles northwest of Bozeman – for great fishing at Missouri Headwaters State Park.

Set at the confluence of the Jefferson, Gallatin, and Madison rivers, the 532-acre Missouri Headwaters State Park is open year-round, and features boat ramps and nearby bait and tackle shops.

The park is also on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places thanks to an 1805 visit by Lewis & Clark, so enjoy casting out for trout at this U.S. National Historic Landmark.

Ready to take your aquatic adventure on to the next level? Visit Gardiner – a gateway city to some of the best whitewater rafting around. Head down the Yellowstone River with local adventure businesses like Yellowstone Raft Company, Montana Whitewater Rafting Company, and Flying Pig Adventure Company.

Flathead Lake

Head to northwest Montana and visit Flathead Lake. A wonderful destination at any time of year, Flathead Lake is situated between Polson and Kalispell. Spring and summer visitors to Polson will have an array of choices in how to experience Flathead Lake. Fishing, boating, swimming in designated areas, and even bird watchers can get their fill when visiting Flathead Lake.

During the winter, area anglers have been known to have success ice fishing at Flathead Lake. Many visitors find themselves at the Flathead Lake State Park, found at the northern end of the lake. Polson, in comparison, is found at the direct southern most point of the lake. With 197 square miles of surface area and an average depth of 164 feet, Flathead Lake is a choice destination for your visit to Polson.