Glacier Outdoor Center Blog

Rainy June has come and gone and that means that Summer is in full swing up here at Glacier Raft Company.

You may think that we spend our time up here at the raft company just rafting, fishing and playing in the Montana sunshine. And you may be right. However what you may not know is that some of the playing we do up at the raft center goes to a great cause!

This could be you!

On July 17th  the Glacier Raft Center will be teaming up with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation to help volunteer in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. We will be weeding and clearing trails to ensure fun and safe hiking in the wilderness. BMWF still has trips available for participation this summer. Check them out here!

Posted: June 4th, 2012 by OM

Northern Montana and Pac Northwest Enjoy Above Average Snowpack While Much of the West Braces for Record Drought

By Ryan Thompson

glacier national park

Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park

It’s no secret that Mother Nature is a fickle mistress.  Analogies for indecisiveness are born from her seasonal whims and even those that know her best can only guess at her long-term plans.  The Rocky Mountain West considers her more than an acquaintance, but in 2012 the region is still very much at the mercy of her idiosyncratic urges.

This spring, ol’ Ma Nature seems to be turning a particularly fond gaze toward the Northwest, the Treasure State in particular, while leaving much of the Rocky Mountain region in a very unenviable state of drought. The mountainous regions of Northern Washington, Idaho and Montana received a healthy, average winter snowpack in 2012 while many areas of the West experienced one of the slimmest winters on record.  According to the Snow – Precipitation Update provided by the US Natural Resource Conservation Service, the snowpack totals in the Flathead and Kootenai drainages in northwest Montana are still above 100% of average snow water equivalent while many major drainages in Colorado and Utah are down in the single digits.

If river-based recreation is part of your summer travel plan you may want to chart a course to Glacier National Park and its’ surrounding rivers.  “The impending summer season looks to be a good one for local outfitters, our snowpack is still a bit above normal.  Combine that with the healthy groundwater levels we have left from heavy precipitation last year and we’re looking at solid water levels this season,” said Darwon Stoneman, owner of Glacier Raft Company in West Glacier, MT.  Comparatively, outfitters across Colorado and Utah are bracing for some of the lowest summer water levels they’ve seen in ten years. According to the Associated Press, “A new [Colorado] state drought plan may require increased drought monitoring, followed by severe restrictions for communities facing the prospect of running out of water.”

Though her favor is often unpredictable and short lived, Big Sky Country and the Pacific Northwest seem to be Mother Nature’s chosen zones to quench this season.  Colorado and Utah will have to wait their turn, parched and thirsty until the rain and snow return next year.

It has shaped up to be a wicked whitewater season, and we’ve been doing a lot of writing about Glacier Raft Co.’s awesome float trips. But, perhaps this has left you wondering: where exactly does all of this floating take place?

Fret not, Glacier Raft grasshopper — here’s the lowdown on the rivers we run.

Every summer, all summer you’ll find us kicking it on the Middle Fork, Upper Middle Fork and North Fork of the Flathead River system.

Not only is the recreation section of the Middle Fork an angler’s heaven, it also churns up Class III rapids early in the summer and some rocking Class II-III rapids as the season progresses. If you’re looking for a unique fishing experience or a pulse-pounding adventure (or hey, why not both?) this is the water to be on.

Another favorite among floaters and fish-seekers is the North Fork. Made famous by its spectacular views, the whitewater in the North Fork checks in at a Class I-II rating. This fun float also provides some excellent wildlife watching — it’s not uncommon to spot black bear, grizzly bear, moose, deer and elk along the way!

Only one outfitter in Montana is permitted to operate float trips down the wilderness section of the Upper Middle Fork –deemed Montana’s mightiest river– and we’re it! The sparkling waters of the Upper Middle Fork curve and bend through 50 miles of the unbelievably gorgeous Great Bear Wilderness Area. And when we say this river is naturally stunning, we’re not kidding: the Upper Middle Fork is considered to be one of the most preserved and protected rivers in the nation.

… So, which one would you like to float first?

Today we are lending a helping hand. The North Fork Land Owners’ Association is hosting its river corridor weed roundup and Glacier Outdoor Center is lending an experienced guide and boat  to take volunteers down the river. These volunteers will be floating from Ford Station to Polebridge, stopping along the way to properly pull noxious weeds off the banks of the river.  The North Fork Land Owners’ Association floatilla wrangles weeds every year and we couldn’t be happier to be a part of this great effort!

The crew is meeting at 11:00 a.m. today and is open to the community.

Posted: May 17th, 2011 by OM

After a winter (and an ENTIRE spring) of powder days and headlines about La Nina here in Northwest Montana, we are ready for fun summer days on our rafts or along the shore with fly rod in hand. But snow that piles up must melt and flow down.  Reports show that the snowpack water content levels for the Flathead River basin are currently 200% of average. That’s some heavy H20!  We’re so excited to have plenty of water for a full summer of river adventures, including whitewater river rafting, fly fishing, wilderness camping and scenic floating.

Our friends at Quadrocopter took an FRV Hexakopter out for some video flights following the snowmelt east from the Continental Divide. There are some amazing shots of the Flathead River’s Middle Fork and South Fork converging.

The video is just a taste of how beautiful this area is. Book your river trip today.

So, yeah, we had a big snowstorm this morning, but here at GOC all we can think about is summer sun and whitewater trips. So while we wait impatiently for bluer skies and warmer water, we decided to team up with our pals from the Great Northern Resort to teach local kids some river safety skills.

Recently Glacier Raft Co marketing guru Rachel VandeVoort and Great Northern Resort GM Carl Motes-Conners brought the Glacier River Schools’ youth river safety course called The River Sense Program to sixth, seventh and eight-graders. Sixteen of Whitefish Middle School’s health enhancement classes learned basic skills regarding rafting equipment, self-rescue, risk awareness and navigation. Carl is an independent River Rescue Instructor for Rescue 3 International as well as an American Canoe Association Raft Guide Instructor, and is certified in First Aid/CPR.

Whitefish school administrators say river safety is an important part of their students’ overall education, especially as young people prepare to enjoy local waterways with their friends and family this summer.

We’re bringing the course to Whitefish High School later this month.  Whitefish school administrators encourage parents to talk with their children about the importance of river safety.   Parents can also sign their kids up for The River Sense Program taught on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River this summer.   Registration is open through both raft companies.  Both companies also offer river safety, whitewater skills and boatman classes for adults through Glacier River Schools.

Posted: December 22nd, 2009 by OM

Shallow Water Crossing

Shallow Water Crossing

We’ve got our course dates dialed in for the 2010 season! Join The River School at Glacier Raft Company to brush up on you boating or river rescue skills. Learn more about individual courses at The River School. Hope to see you on the river!

  • Apr 30 – May 2        Whitewater Rescue Technician
  • May 15 – 16                Intro to River Skills
  • May 17 – 23               The River School
  • May 28 – 30              Whitewater Rescue Technician
  • Jun 7 – 13                   The River School
  • Jun 18 – 20                Whitewater Rescue Technician
  • Jun 26 – 27                Intro to River Skills
  • July 17 – 18                Intro to River Skills
  • July 29                       Level I River Sense
  • July 30                       Level II River Sense
  • July 31 – Aug 1         Level III River Sense

Posted: July 2nd, 2009 by OM

Join Glacier Raft Company’s River School for exciting whitewater rescue courses and general river skills courses. We’ve added another whitewater rescue technician course July 17-19. We also still have an introduction to river skills course July 25 & 26. Call us at 406-888-5454 to get signed up! See you on the river.

YouTube Preview Image

Check out footage of everyone swimming in the notch. These are students in Glacier Raft’s Whitewater Rescue Technician course for May. Try not to get sick watching. Next time I’ll try to keep my head still while swimming. Check out the classes at http://glacierraftco.com/guide-school.htm#river%20skills. Hope to see you on the river!

Posted: May 28th, 2009 by OM

Our first river education courses of the season were great! All the participants had a great time and we’ve got more capable river enthusiasts out on the water now. Photos and Video to follow.