The North Fork is one of only four Wild and Scenic Rivers in Montana. It forms the southwestern border of Glacier National Park offering paddlers some of the most spectacular vistas in the Northern Rockies, blue-green water, and the chance to see grizzlies from your boat (be sure to use proper food storage practices for bear country).
See also the Middle Fork Flathead.
Alternate access below Ford Work Center
Alternate access point that allows for a stop at the Polebridge Mercantile and Northern Lights Saloon.
Alternate river access at Big Creek Campground that let's you take out above the bigger rapids or put-in to just do the lower section.
Fool Hen Rapids (class III) are about 8 miles below Big Creek and 3.5 above Glacier Rim
Lower Fool Hen is about half a mile downstream of Upper Fool Hen.
About one mile above Glacier Rim you will encounter a pour over extending from the right bank to the middle of the river (or farther at some levels). This is a dangerous flipper but easy to avoid if staying alert to downstream obstacles. Stay to river left and look it over. It can be impressive.
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!!!!
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Floated from polbridge to blankenship on 17th good relaxing float good for fishing/ sunbathing. Takes about 9 to 10 hours total.
permit info not for this North Fork.
2 years ago
by Greg Malone
by Nick Satovick
Sign up to join the Sultan River (WA) working group and stay informed on issues related to improving flows through hydropower relicensing.
Letter from John Craighead on the issue of dams and the need for wild rivers.
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Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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A Good Sign
North Fork Valley
Polebridge takeout warning
Glacier National Park is a spectacular backdrop of the whole trip
Rafting isn't SO bad...
Up near canada on the North Fork
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
The Forest Service has released a Proposed Action which is essentially a partial draft management plan the forks of the Wild and Scenic Flathead River. The Proposed Action is available for public review and comment through September 13, 2019. The Forest Service proposed a number of management actions that would be triggered by encounter limits being reached, including new permit systems. We encourage Flathead River paddlers to give the agency some feedback on the encounter thresholds they propose, the proposed management actions, and the Proposed Action as a whole.
Wild rivers and their enthusiasts got some good news with the release of the new 15-20 year Forest plan for the Flathead National Forest. The decision newly protects 22 streams as eligible for Wild and Scenic designation, based in large part on the advocacy of American Whitewater and our awesome partners and members in Montana. These protections will serve as a vital steppingstone to the designation of some of our Nation’s most outstanding headwater streams.
We are saddened to report the passing of Oz Hawksley last month at the age of 97. One of American Whitewater’s original co-founders and co-chair of our organization’s first Conservation Committee, Oz was a lifetime advocate for wild rivers who understood the power of bringing together outdoor enthusiasts for effective advocacy. He developed his passion for rivers through the experiences he enjoyed and was at the forefront of early exploration and conservation of the Clearwater, Flathead, Main Salmon, Middle Fork Salmon, Yampa, and Green along with many rivers in the Ozarks. Oz was a leader in the establishment of the Wild and Scenic Rivers system in 1968.
In the final days of the 113th Congress, several river conservation measures have been passed designating significant new Wilderness Areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers in areas vitally important to the paddling community.
After several years of international diplomacy, last month the Governor of Montana and the Premier of British Columbia signed an agreement permanently halting proposed mining and petroleum extraction in the Canadian portion of the North Fork of the Flathead River's watershed. Last week Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester introduced legislation that would offer the same protections for the watershed on our side of the border. Together, the recent actions of Montana and British Columbia will protect one of our Nation's last best rivers.
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