Flathead, North Fork - 1. Canadian Border to Blankenship Bridge

Flathead, North Fork, Montana, US


1. Canadian Border to Blankenship Bridge

Usual Difficulty I-II+(III) (for normal flows)
Length 58 Miles
Avg. Gradient 15 fpm

Glacier National Park is a spectacular backdrop of the whole trip

Glacier National Park is a spectacular backdrop of the whole trip
Photo by Kevin Colburn taken 07/04/09

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
N F Flathead River nr Columbia Falls MT
usgs-12355500 1000 - 10000 cfs I-II+(III) 01h15m 3830 cfs (running)

River Description

The North Fork is one of only four Wild and Scenic Rivers in Montana. It forms the southwestern border of Glacier National Park.  It offers paddlers some of the most spectacular vistas in the Northern Rockies, blue-green water, and the chance to see Grizzlies from your boat.  The river maintains a steady pace through class I and II riffles, with an occassional rapid that may approach class III.  There is lots of wood in the river, mostly in large log jams, requiring some paddling skills.  There are also a number of braided channels that can deadend, particularly below polebridge, requiring some careful choices.  In general though, this reach is a mellow float through beautiful country.  Camping is unregulated, and many people float this reach as a 2 or 3 day trip.  No trip to the North Fork is complete without a stop at the Northern Lights Salloon for a beer and hot meal, and the Polebridge Mercantile for some amazing baked goods and coffee. 

See also the Middle Fork Flathead.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2010-03-07 17:46:37

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
14.0Ford AccessN/AAccess
24.0Poleridge AccessN/AAccess
42.0Big Creek River AccessN/AAccess
53.5Glacier Rim AccessN/AAccess

Rapid Descriptions

Ford Access (Class N/A, Mile 14.0)

Alternate access below Ford Work Center

Poleridge Access (Class N/A, Mile 24.0)

Alternate access point

Big Creek River Access (Class N/A, Mile 42.0)

Alternate river access that let's you take out above the bigger rapids or put-in to just do the lower section.

Glacier Rim Access (Class N/A, Mile 53.5)

Alternate take-out

User Comments

2011-12-18 04:00:46 (852 days ago)
HarryDundore (153688)
I've spent a lot of time in and around Glacier. This stretch has a very large grizzly population
(even for Glacier) on both sides of the river, so please be careful and take appropriate (Alaska
style) measures if camping. Also, this part of Montana is in the Pacific Northwest weather system
and does not enjoy the beautiful early weather the rest of Montana generally does and Glacier tends
to make it's own weather all summer. Plan for bad weather year-round. Lot's of wood hazards!!!
Inquire at Polebridge. If you get lucky with the weather, you'll never forget this float!!!!

2009-05-29 08:29:54 (1784 days ago)
x (1)
permit info not for this North Fork.
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