Several white-water companies are based in West Glacier. Float trips on the Middle Fork of the Flathead account for most of their scheduled outings, though arrangements can be made to float the South Fork (in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area) or the North Fork (in the northwest corner of Glacier Park).
Half-day and full-day trips along the lower stretch of the Middle Fork are good family floats, with great scenery and some white water. The river’s upper stretch is a wild four- to six-day trip (around $900).
Glacier Raft Co. (406/888-5454 or 800/ 235-6781, www.glacierraftco.com) gets good recommendations from local folks.
The Glacier Raft Co. and other operators offer similar trips and prices: Glacier Wilderness Guides (406/387-5555 or 800/521-7238, www.glacierguides.com); Great Northern Whitewater (406/387-5340 or 800/735- 7897, www.gnwhitewater.com); Wild River Adventures (406/387-9453 or 800/700-7056, www.riverwild.com). Daylong floats run $77–85; half days are $45–50. Each of these companies will provide longer trips, with the option of adding hikes and horseback rides to the river run.
The Middle Fork is a Wild and Scenic River, and this official designation is particularly apt in its upper reaches in the Bob Marshall and Great Bear Wilderness Areas. It’s possible to fly in to float this wilderness river; the Schaefer Meadows airstrip is near the river in the Bob Marshall.
The wilderness stretches of the river are not easy, and they can be dangerous for novices. Even the lower reaches are better floated in a raft or kayak than a canoe, and anyone with questionable skills should sign on with an outfitter. Early summer is the best time to float the Middle Fork; water levels are high, but not at flood stage, and some of the chill has gone out of the air.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition