Plan Your River Day In Missoula

Plan Your River Day In Missoula

There is no better way to beat the summer heat in Montana than taking to the beautiful rivers that run around (and through) Missoula. Snowmelt waters provide crisp and cool relief from the beautifully blazing summer sunshine, and the views of the surrounding mountains and forests are perhaps most stunning from the water. Whether you are looking for fast thrills or low-key chills, reel adventures or real relaxation, there is a water activity for everyone in Missoula.


Locals and visitors alike flock to the waters of the Clark Fork River for a relaxing and exhilarating day of tubing on the water. Tubing is the perfect activity for those looking to enjoy the scenic beauty of the area as it is very affordable and requires little to no skill when compared to other water activities. Floats can be bought at Ace Hardware or rented locally through Love Boat Paddle Company (don't forget a pump, too). In terms of getting to and from your put-in spot, many chose to station a car in Missoula and drive another to the starting point, while some prefer taking a shuttle from town to the various launching spots upriver through shuttle services like Love Boat, Clark Fork Yacht Club and Mountain Line, Missoula's public transportation service. Check out our Pro Tips for Floating the River to get a better feel for what you may need or want to bring with you on your floating adventure.


Anglers flock to western Montana to cast a line in our blue-ribbon rivers, and Missoula is certainly no different. In fact, Norman Maclean's famous book-turned-movie A River Runs Through It takes place here (and a river really does run through it). Missoula is nestled in the heart of five river valleys, making it the perfect place to launch your big sky fishing adventure. Fly-fishing is the name of the game here, and whether you are an experienced or novice angler you may want to consider hiring one of Missoula's many local guides to show you the ropes of the sport or show you the best fishing holes to reel in your biggest catch. If you are looking to recreate without a guide, that is fine too! No matter your experience level, please come prepared with the appropriate fishing licenses and knowledge of river safety and regulations while on the water.

River Surfing

No ocean? No problem! When live gives you water, you surf it. At least, that is the case in Missoula. Home to Brennan's Wave, one of the nation's most famous river surfing spots, is a unique and thrilling way to recreate on the water. Experienced surfers take on the endless wave, located in the heart of downtown Missoula. Thanks to the prime location, many people make a day of watching the surfing from the observation deck, accessed via the Riverfront Walking Trail and Caras Park.

Whitewater Rafting

Photo Courtesy of Zoo Town Surfers

If you are looking for a thrill, look no further than white-water rafting in Missoula. We strongly recommend using a guide service for your rafting adventure, but luckily for you there are many options to chose from including Zoo Town Surfers. You will get the chance to take on class II and III rapids in one of the three rivers surrounding town, the Blackfoot, the Bitterroot or the Clark Fork. Perhaps the most popular whitewater spot is nearby Alberton Gorge, considered by many to be the best summer rapids in Western Montana.

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

For those who haven't heard, the SUP craze is here to stay! This challenging and fun pastime is a fantastic way to get some exercise in while enjoying the rivers this summer in Missoula. Paddle boards can be rented locally through Love Boat Paddle Co. or The Trailhead so you can take to the waters (we recommend the calmer parts, especially for beginners) and ride the water like a local! If you are up for it, consider tryin your hand at SUP Yoga, hosted by Hot House Yoga (boards included).

Safety First

As you make plans for your epic adventures on the rivers, remember to consult local guides and conditions before recreating. Depending on the time of the year, some activities are not recommended for safety, in particular during late spring with winter runoff is at its peak. As always, recreate responsibly and safely.

If you're giving dry a try this month, Missoula has plenty of spots for mocktails. Check out some of our favorites

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