Floating down a river has always been a dream of mine. It’s that quintessential American summer activity that’s always sounded (and looked) so incredibly appealing to me. Just a tube, some beers, the warm summer sun, and a cool, rolling river… What could be better than that?! Imagine my joy when I found out that my dream was about to become a reality. I literally couldn’t sleep the night before!
Missoula’s Clark Fork River is gorgeous. It’s exactly the kind of river I’d imagined floating on, with a slow (yet steady) current, and even a few quicker spots (they’re calm enough that you won’t even spill your beer) - but are fun nonetheless! From start to finish, our floating adventure was about 3 hours long, and it was the most tranquil, relaxing, and enjoyable three hours I’ve had in a long time. We sipped our local Missoula beers, made friends with fellow rafters, and admired the incredible scenery we passed through. And the combination of the warm summer sun and the crisp river water made the afternoon absolutely heavenly. Just one look at our faces, and it’s easy to see that we’re on top of the world!
We ended the float at the Missoula Doubletree, where we enjoyed cold drinks and woodfired pizza at their riverfront restaurant, Finn. Talk about a perfect way to end a perfect day! I’ll never forget my first float down the Clark Fork River - and you better believe it won’t be my last!
*Visitors can purchase rafts at Ace Hardware, Walmart, Gas Stations, or any sporting goods store. They also have plenty of options on Amazon, we used this double float (with a cooler!!) - and it’s under $40!
I’ve always been a thrill seeker.
From surfing exotic reefs to pole vaulting through college, I love a good adrenaline pump. Having river rafted 3 or 4 times, I have just enough inexperience that it always feels brand new and exhilarating. And our trip to Missoula definitely allowed me to take it up a notch when I went on river rafting adventure - in a tandem kayak!
We were planning on doing a half day rafting adventure with Adventure Missoula in the famed Alberton Gorge. When the other couple on the reservation canceled at the last minute, and Alli wasn’t feeling great, I was left with the decision of canceling, rafting the river in the raft by myself (with a guide), or tandem kayaking with a guide. The river was calling my name, so of course I signed up for the kayak adventure.
My guide was Steve, and we hit it off instantly. I was thankful that he likes to chat, since it would just be the two of us floating down the river. We started off by practicing paddling and getting in sync for when we hit some real rapids. Note - the Clark Fork River is considered world class for white water rafting, but also is very safe for families. So while you can totally get a rush, you won’t be putting yourself or your family in danger (not too much at least, hehe).
Over the course of the trip we hit multiple class III rapids, with my favorites being Triple Bridges, Tumbleweed, and Fang. On Triple Bridges I was engulfed by a massive wall of water. Tumbleweed nearly launched me out. And Fang had our Kayak headed sideways until we somehow straightened out. SO. FUN.
Along the way there were ospreys and eagles soaring overhead, we had the chance for some small cliff jumps, and we even stopped at a beach to stretch our legs. If you do a full day trip, you stop at the beach for lunch.
I can’t really say much more other than it was an amazing trip. I did it solo, but I can’t wait to do it again with Alli. Or someday with our family. You feel such a sense of accomplishment as you conquer each rapid, and you will surely form a bond with your guide and fellow rafters.
In conclusion, we both had the time of our lives on the Clark Fork River. Floating the river is relaxing, serene, and allows you to get your tan on. Rafting the river is adrenaline-pumping, scenic, and you’ll most likely get drenched by walls of water.
Our two take-aways: both adventures are very unique and different from one another, and both need to be on your list of to-do’s when you visit Missoula. While we’re building your to-do list, we should mention that the Clark Fork River is only one of the three rivers that run through Missoula. There are SO many adventures to be had!
Let us know when you go - we just might tag along! ;)