Middle Fork Flathead River Montana Fly Fishing, Whitewater Rafting

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Middle Fork Flathead River

Flowing from deep in the Great Bear Wilderness, it joins Highway 2 at Essex and forms the southern boundary to Glacier National Park, and then merges with the North Fork to form the main Flathead River near West Glacier. The whitewater rafting section along this river is easily accessible, popular, and highly recommended!

  • Go whitewater rafting with a local outfitter.
  • Stare in awe at the towering canyon walls along the Middle Fork.
  • It's a rare but rewarding feat to visit the Middle Fork within the Great Bear Wilderness.

What can I do and see along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River?

  • Whitewater Rafting:
    While some venture into the depths of the wilderness (typically with a bush plane drop), the most popular section of the Middle Fork for rafting is between Essex and West Glacier. A number of local rafting companies run the section below Moccasin Creek, where there are many Class II and II rapids. It's a busy but very fun section of the river.
  • Fishing:
    The best fishing along the Middle Fork of the Flathead is within the heart of the Great Bear Wilderness. Cutthroats, up to 16 inches, frequent the waters and will chomp on just about anything. Because the area is only accessible via foot, plane, or horse, the fishing pressure is very low. Once the river reaches Essex, the fishing becomes much more difficult. The best way to fish the section between Essex and West Glacier is via float trip or hiking trail.
  • Camping:
    There are a number of very basic camping areas along the Middle Fork of the Flathead, located primarily at River Access points. Specifically Bear Creek, Essex, Paola, Cascadilla, and Mocassin River Access points allow camping and have public toilet facilities. Note that these aren't RV parks and the facilities are minimal.

Where is the Middle Fork of the Flathead River?

Beginning in the far reaches of the Great Bear Wilderness, south of Glacier National Park, the Middle Fork is one of the most scenic and remote rivers around. It enters civilization at Essex, Montana along Highway 2, forming the southern boundary to Glacier National Park. Highway 2 follows the river until West Glacier, Montana and the entrance to Glacier National Park. Initially the river is so far below the road, there are really only a few places where it is accessible. Closer to West Glacier, many recreational boaters and rafting companies flock to the river in the summer months.