When temperatures get above 90 in Western Montana, it’s time to hit the river. Some like floating on tubes, or fishing from drift boats, but I love hitting whitewater in a raft.
The famed Alberton Gorge is located 35 miles west of Missoula, the Gorge is a canyon section of the Clark Fork River with Class II and Class III whitewater. This sounded perfect for a day long rafting trip.
The Alberton Gorge section of the Lower Clark Fork River is a paradise for many whitewater enthusiasts. This popular stretch of river, contains five major rapids as well as several smaller ones that offer challenges to even the most experienced river rafters and kayakers.
The class I-III rapids are spread out in the scenic canyon know as “The Gorge” to locals. In this stretch you hit Triple Bridges, Boat Eater, Tumbleweed, and Davey Jones’s Locker, and a few other smaller ones, perfect for a half day adventure on the river.
I figured these rapids called for a guided trip. I gathered a boat load of friends and called Zootown Surfers to set it up. They shuttled us from Missoula and we put the raft in at Cyr Bridge and had a nice calm stretch before we hit the first set of rapids about 20 minutes downriver.
After hitting the first set of rapids, everyone in the boat was drenched. It takes everyone paddling to assist the guide in navigating through rough water and giant waves. I was glad to have a professional on board who knew the river. We even got a little history trivia along the way. Part of the Mullan trail crosses the Clark Fork on the Gorge stretch. You can still see part of the trail carved out in the side of the river where pioneers forged the river in their wagons.
If you are looking for a way to get out on the river and cool off in this sweltering weather, I highly recommend trying out “The Gorge”. Unless you are experienced at navigating white water, strongly consider taking a guided trip; this stretch of river is not for amateurs!
There are other sections of the Clark Fork that are more mellow and can be navigated in a tube or drift boat. Be sure to do your research before hitting the river, I have misjudged a float before and found myself taking out in the dark!
There are a few different companies that offer guided river trips down the Gorge. I went with Zootown Surfers. They have an awesome headquarters situated along the river. We stopped there after the take-out and ate our lunch while relaxing with a spectacular overlook of the river.
They also teach stand up paddle board and kayak lessons if you are looking for another way to beat the heat and get out on the river.
Zootown Surfers www.zootownsurfers.com (406) 546-0370