Bureau of Land Management National Park Service U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service U.S. Forest Service

Flathead River, Montana

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Managing Agency:

National Park Service, Glacier National Park
U.S. Forest Service, Flathead National Forest


Designated Reach:

October 12, 1976. The North Fork from the Canadian border downstream to its confluence with the Middle Fork. The Middle Fork from its headwaters to its confluence with the South Fork. The South Fork from its origin to the Hungry Horse Reservoir.


Classification/Mileage:

Wild — 97.9 miles; Scenic — 40.7 miles; Recreational — 80.4 miles; Total — 219.0 miles.

Flathead River

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Glacier National Park

Photo Credit: Tim Palmer

Flathead River

The designated river includes the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork above Hungry Horse Reservoir and features recreation, scenery, historic sites, unique fisheries and wildlife such as grizzly bears and wolves. The rugged area includes the landscapes of Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall and Great Bear Wilderness areas.

No permits are required for river use; however, there are regulations for human waste, campfires, stay limits, motorized watercraft, vehicle use, proper bear attractant storage and other site-specific rules on national forest lands. Please contact the Hungry Horse or Spotted Bear Ranger Districts for more information. Additionally, the lower Middle Fork and entire North Fork are boundaries to Glacier National Park, and those segments of river are managed cooperatively by both agencies. Specific rules and regulations for activities in Glacier National Park, including camping, campfires, bear attractant storage and other approved activities apply on Park Service lands and, in some cases, are different than the National Forest regulations. Please contact Glacier National Park for more information.

There are several commercial outfitters that offer float trips. Details on these commercial rafting companies can be found at the Flathead Convention and Visitor Bureau or at any of the Flathead National Forest offices.