Kayaker's paradise

A kayaker enjoys a calm section of the Blackfoot River. Whether you crave the thrill of white water or the serenity of still water, Missoula's rivers have something for everyone.

photo by Nelson Kenter Kenterphotography.com

Canoeing, Kayaking, Rafting

For a landlocked state, Montana’s water sports scene is second to none. World-class rafting, kayaking and canoeing can all be found within close proximity to Missoula.

Practice makes perfect at Brennan’s Wave, a man-made practice rapid on the Clark Fork River underneath the Higgins Bridge that opened in 2006. The US Freestyle Kayaking team trials were held here this summer on June 30-July 2.

Fly fishermen aren’t the only ones celebrating when the Blackfoot, Bitterroot, Rock Creek and Clark Fork Rivers yield plentiful results. During the early summer months, these waterways are a kayakers paradise.

For serious white water fun, check out the Alberton Gorge just 30 miles west of Missoula, or the Lochsa River just over the Idaho state line.  Meryl Streep may have conquered “The River Wild” but she wouldn’t stand a chance in this high altitude chop. Local raft companies and guides and kayak shops are prevalent in Missoula—making a great day on the river easy to find and prepare for.

See our listings of Missoula Area Canoeing, Kayaking and Rafting Companies and check out Jason Shreder’s “Go With the Flow” kayaking blog.


Reminder for Boaters: Stop at AIS Inspection Stations

By JOLEEN TADEJ - As the summer recreation season gets underway, water ... more

Is Spring Early or Late?

By BRUCE AUCHLY - The warm weather of February and early March could l... more

Missoula – A River Runs Through It

Missoula - a river does indeed run through it. In 1992, the Oscar-winn... more

Whitewater Kayaking – Taking That Next Step

by JASON SHREDER. It’s crazy but as many kayakers as there are in Missoula one would think that it would be easier to find people to paddle with, but it’s a struggle for people that start out on their own. ... more

Reports of Swimmer’s Itch Prompts Fish, Wildlife and Parks Advisory

By BRUCE AUCHLY - Reports of swimmer’s itch in reservoirs on the Rocky Mountain Front have prompted Fish, Wildlife and Parks to issue an advisory. What is swimmer's itch anyway?... more

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Summer Workshop August 7-9

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' popular Becoming an Outdoors-Woman summer workshop is set for Aug. 7-9 at Lubrecht Forest, east of Missoula.... more

Summer Forecast has FWP Keeping Close Watch on Streams

By JOLEEN TADEJ - With high temperatures and depleted snowpack runoff, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is gearing up now to protect fish from stress of low flows and elevated water temperatures.... more

Manners Matter – How to Share Western Montana Rivers

By JOLEEN TADEJ - It's still easy to have a great summer experience on Montana's rivers. The key is river etiquette, a mix of common sense, courtesy, and respect.... more

Park Service to Open Iconic Sun Road On Glacier’s West Side

By DILLON TABISH - Summer is Here! The National Park Service announced Wednesday that the Going-to-the-Sun Road, is expected to fully open on the west side on Thurs., June 11.... more

Motorists Hauling Watercraft Must Stop at AIS Inspection Stations

FWP officials remind private and commercial boaters that state law requires all motorists hauling watercraft to stop at inspection stations.... more

Keeping Safe On The Water This Summer

By JOLEEN TADEJ - Summer days on the water with family and friends are ahead. Here’s a primer on how to keep those days safe and fun for the entire crew.... more

Western Montana’s River Lovers Brace for Early Runoff

Rivers throughout western Montana could get lower than normal this summer, as an unusually low snowpack has melted away two or three weeks earlier than usual.... more

Pasternak is the 2015 Northern Rockies Physical Therapy Scholarship Recipient

Northern Rockies Physical Therapy (NRPT) is proud to announce Sentinel High School Graduate, Sydney Pasternak, as the 2015 Northern Rockies Physical Therapy Scholarship recipient.... more

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) Spring Workshops Offered by FWP

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' Becoming an Outdoors Woman Program (BOW) is sponsoring several workshops: Firearms Shooting, Muzzle Loading & Primitive Skills, and Nature Journaling.... more

2 Rivers + 2 Hours = Missoula Fun

By JASON SHREDER - Many towns, such as Boise, Asheville, and Bend boast great river opportunities in or close to town--but here's why Missoula trumps them all when it comes to river fun.... more

My Most Spectacular Failure Was a Gift

By SHELLI JOHNSON - Former Lady Griz hoopster, Shelli Johsnon tells how getting cut from the team and losing her scholarship was a game changer that led her to an Epic Life! ... more

Milestone Season Comes to a Close

By DILLON TABISH - More than a century after it was established, Glacier National Park is more popular than ever.... more

Sailing the Flathead

BY XAVIER FLORY - An evening race with the North Flathead Yacht Club, which was founded in 1976 and currently has 132 members. ... more

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Summer Workshop August 1-3

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' popular Becoming an Outdoors-Woman summer workshop is set for August 1-3 at Boulder Hot Springs near Boulder.... more

High Water is Dangerous For All Boaters–Be Prepared or Don’t Go!

It can be hard to put safety ahead of adventure but sometimes the only safe choice is to stay off the water. Here are some tips for navigating dangerously high waters in western Montana:... more

Still Water Season

By ROB BREEDING - If you don’t know what you’re doing, stay away from moving water in Montana for the next month or so. There are western Montana rivers no one has any business floating this time of year. ... more

Return of the Dragons

By ISABEL MAKMAN - Over the weekend of Sept. 7 and 8, the Flathead Valley will be inundated with participants and spectators for the second annual Montana Dragon Boat Festival.... more

Max Wave Fundraiser at Flathead Lake Brewery

The Max Wave will have a fundraiser tomorrow (June 25, 2013) at Flathead Lake Brewery. $1 of every pint sold between 6pm and 8pm will be donated to Max Wave. ... more

Missoula – A River Runs Through It

Missoula - a river does indeed run through it. In 1992, the Oscar-winning feature film A River Runs Through It brought notoriety to a town in the Pacific Northwest and the world was introduced to Missoula, Mon... more

Signs and Signals of Summertime in Missoula

By JASON SHREDER - The Best in the West Kayaking Championship marks the beginning of the summer for me and the guides here at Zoo Town Surfers. What marks the beginning of summer for you?... more

Rivers Are On The Rise In Western Montana

By JASON SHREDER - The local river users are bursting with joy as the water levels continue to rise. Here are some safety tips that will assure you of a memorable yet safe experience.... more

5 Things to Include in Your Personal Flotation Device

By JASON SHREDER - Here are the 5 "must have" items I make sure are either in or on my personal flotation device (PFD) when I hit the river.... more

Missoula Story of the Week: Restoring Brennan’s Wave

By TOM DIDDEL - One of Missoula’s best downtown spots for outdoor and water-sports enthusiasts is in need of donations in order to make necessary repairs.... more

The Life and Artistry of Boat Builder Stu Williams

By BRIAN D'AMBROSIO - Missoula boat builder Stu Williams believes in the sentiment of peace and paddling. He also believes that there are few things designed well.... more

Exploring the Teller National Wildlife Refuge

By BRIAN D'AMBROSIO - Teller National Wildlife Refuge, with its 1,200 acres of tranquil beauty in the Bitterroot Valley near Corvallis, is Montana’s only private refuge. ... more

Kayaking and Creating Community at Brennan’s Wave

By JASON SHREDER - Thanks to lots of hard work, Caras Park and Brennan’s Wave have become a place where the community can gather and enjoy the sport of kayaking.... more

Photo Gallery: Montana Whitewater Championship Finals

By AUSTIN SMITH - The final round of the Montana Whitewater Championships were held at Brennan’s Wave in Missoula’s Caras Park on Wednesday.... more

Photo Gallery: Montana Whitewater Championship Pre-Comp

By AUSTIN SMITH - The Montana Whitewater Championships will culminate in the final round of competition at Brennan’s Wave in Missoula’s Caras Park on Wednesday.... more

2012 Whitewater Championships at Brennan’s Wave

F.Y.I. - Zoo Town Surfers and Strongwater will host the 2012 Montana Whitewater Championship June 26th-28; Presented by First Interstate Bank and Community Medical Center. ... more

Kayaking is FUN!

By JASON SHREDER - Whether you paddle casually or attack the biggest rapids in the world, just make sure you're kayaking for the right reason: To have fun.... more

A Sunday Afternoon Yard Sale on the Lochsa River

By JASON SHREDER - It’s that time of year where flocks of Missoulians head over Lolo Pass to run the Lochsa River. Just remember: Don't cheer 'til both feet are dry.... more

Spring River Buzz: Early Season Kayaking Tips

By JASON SHREDER - Spring is just around the corner and the river community is buzzing with joy, eagerness, and excitement. Here are a few tips to get you geared up.... more

Whitewater Kayaking Essentials: The Roll, Part 2

By JASON SHREDER - The roll significantly affects your safety, skill progression (both mentally and physically), and the amount of fun you can have on the water.... more

Whitewater Kayaking Essentials: The Roll, Part 1

By JASON SHREDER - One of the things I love about whitewater kayaking is that’s its constantly challenging. One of the biggest challenges beginners face is learning how to roll (AKA: The Combat Roll).... more

Holiday Gift Ideas for River Rats (aka Kayakers)

By JASON SHREDER - Just in time for Christmas, here are my top 11 gift ideas that are sure to please that river runner in your family and guaranteed to get some use!... more

Winter Kayaking Motivation: Don’t Hesitate, Just Go!

By JASON SHREDER - The ultimate winter day is going to Snowbowl in the morning and surfing Brennan’s Wave in the afternoon. How many places can you do that?... more

Kayaking’s Best: The Rider of the Year and Whitewater Grand Prix

By JASON SHREDER - There are many different platforms to showcase the sport of whitewater kayaking. Whether it's big wave surfing in remote places or whitewater parks nestled in the heart of town, they all cont... more

Lower Salmon River Float: A Great Weekend Adventure

by JASON SHREDER. This past weekend, some friends and I decided to float the Lower Salmon River. This is a great last minute, spur-of-the-moment river trip because logistics are fairly easy. That’s exactly ho... more

River Fun and Kayaking in the Fall

by JASON SHREDER. Summer is almost over. That doesn’t mean you have to stop paddling or enjoying the river. This is actually one of my favorite times of the year to paddle. We have been kayaking, stand up pad... more

Whitewater Kayaking – Taking That Next Step

by JASON SHREDER. It’s crazy but as many kayakers as there are in Missoula one would think that it would be easier to find people to paddle with, but it’s a struggle for people that start out on their own. ... more

Whitewater Kayaking and Learning to Roll

by JASON SHREDER. I remember back to my first days kayaking. I was thinking to myself “what options do I have besides pulling my skirt and swimming if I can’t roll my kayak?”... more

Maiden Missoula Review: Zootown Surfers

By LEAH LEWIS. This summer some of the rivers are a little too high and fast for me to be comfortable navigating the Alberton Gorge without some expert advice. So I turned to fellow Make It Missoula blogger a... more

Blackfoot River Kayaking Challenge

by JASON SHREDER. This weekend the 3rd Annual Blackfoot River Challenge will take place on the Blackfoot River. The event will include clinics, downriver race/sprints, and a whitewater slalom event. Brandon, ... more

Top 10 Characteristics of a Dirt Bag Boater

by JASON SHREDER. What is a dirt bag kayaker? Am I one? Do I know any? What characteristics define the role of a true dirt bag kayaker? Trust me, I have absolutely nothing against dirt bag kayakers because if I... more

2011 US Freestyle Kayaking Championships in Missoula June 30

Jason interviews Kevin "KB" Brown, owner of Strongwater Paddle Sports, about the 2011 USA Freestyle Kayaking Championships in Missoula, Thursday, June 30.... more

Kayaking Safety Gear – River Shoes and More

by JASON SHREDER. A few people have asked me “what is the right kayaking safety gear” and “why are river shoes so important?”. The gear really depends on what type of boating your doing. ... more

10 Safety Tips for Kayaking & Rafting in High Water

by JASON SHREDER. Even though Missoula rivers are still running high in mid-June, there are still some great recreational opportunities out there. ... more

Preventing Shoulder Injuries When Kayaking

By JASON SHREDER. Kayaking is a demanding sport regardless of how hard you paddle. Whether you paddle everyday or you’re just a weekend warrior, we have to take care of our shoulders. The kayakers that are ... more

Time to Lose It On the Lochsa River

By JASON SHREDER. The Lochsa hands down is one of the best rivers in the world and I don’t know of anyone out there that would disagree. It has miles and miles of class III-IV rapids, epic surf waves, sweet ... more

Memorial Day Self-Support Kayaking

By JASON SHREDER. Early last week, I got a group email about someone looking do to a self-support kayak trip. Self-Support kayak trips bring out the minimalist in kayakers because you can only bring what you c... more

Paddle Boarding Versus Kayaking

By JASON SHREDER. Don’t worry, I still love kayaking but I’m having fun stinking at a new sport. Recently, I have been Stand Up Paddle Boarding quite a bit and I’m loving it.... more

Go with the Flow and Get in the Know

By JASON SHREDER. Water is powerful and is many times underestimated by people. The river is constantly changing and sometimes is unforgiving and demanding. Please remember to be prepared this season. Get ... more

12th Annual Best in the West Freestyle Kayak Competition

MAKE IT MISSOULA MOMENT: 12th Annual Best in the West Freestyle Kayak Competition--a fundraiser for the MAX WAVE.... more

Kayakers – One Big Family

By JASON SHREDER. No matter where you’re from, what you’ve been through, who you’re with, or how good you are, the river is a common ground. We all kayak for different reasons and that’s ok. ... more

The Selway River: A Preseason Kayaking Treat

By JASON SHREDER. The Selway is an epic river trip. It’s a wild and scenic river and is considered by many to be one of the premier wilderness floats in the lower 48. It’s a tough river to get a permit fo... more

Youth Kayaking

By JASON SHREDER. The future of whitewater kayaking, and most other sports lies in the hands of the youth. The younger generation of kayakers keep pushing the limits of kayaking and are discovering what is pos... more

Old Dawgs, New Tricks

By JASON SHREDER. Last weekend I drove over to the Lochsa River, one of my all time favorites. It was a classic Lochsa weekend, rainy, snowy, with an occasional beam of sunshine. The crowd, mostly from Misso... more

Kayaking Essentials

By JASON SHREDER. I remember when I first started I had an old paddle, a spray skirt with a hole in it, a nerdy looking Pro-Tec helmet, nose plugs so tight I could barely talk, and some other pieces of gear t... more

Making Waves in Missoula

Brennan’s Wave has turned the heart of Downtown Missoula into kayaking paradise. Built to create a play spot for local kayakers, Brennan’s Wave is an engineered whitewater masterpiece right next to Caras Pa... more

Are You Drawn or Driven?

By JASON SHREDER. I have been kayaking for 10 years now. In those 10 years I have spent a lot of time on the water. 8 out of those 10 years I have spent over 200 plus days each year on the river. To say the ... more

Montana Natural History Center

The Montana Natural History Center helps cultivate the understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of nature through education. With a variety of programs for all ages, the Center helps both children a... more