Swan - Bigfork Dam to Bigfork Powerhouse


Swan, Montana, US

Disclaimer

Bigfork Dam to Bigfork Powerhouse (The Wild Mile)

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 1.25 Miles
Avg. Gradient 100 fpm
Max Gradient 100 fpm

Gorgeous evening on the swan


Gorgeous evening on the swan
Photo by Kevin Colburn taken 07/12/06 @ 3ft?

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Swan River near Bigfork, MT
usgs-12370000 800 - 4000 cfs III-IV 00h22m 589 cfs (too low)


River Description

WOW!! This is it!! The "Wild Mile" !! Home of the Bigfork Whitewater festival held at the end of May.

Locals get to run this as early as the first part of April, depending on snow melt. Runnout extends longer than most Montana Rivers, thanks to Swan Lake, which feeds out warm water into July most years.

If you are new to the mile, be sure to scout the "Big Drop" about a hundred yards from the putin.

For 13 miles from Swan Lake to Bigfork Dam, the Swan river is flat and lazy.  But from the dam to the powerhouse, the river drops 100 feet in 1.25 miles.  Past the powerhouse in Bigfork, the river enters Flathead Lake.

As flows drop in summer, scheduled opportunities are provided thanks to the advocay of American Whitewater. During the month of July and August the generators are turned off on Wednesday evenings to restore the full project flow into the river channel. These releases take place from 5 pm - 9 pm and are contingent on project inflows equal to or greater than 800 cfs at 8 am the day of the release. In most years this provides boatable flows on Wednesday evenings through the month of July but by August inflow typically drops below 800 cfs and the releases are no longer provided.

Put in:  River left just below the dam. 

Take out: River left, just below the powerhouse.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-03-22 13:57:54

Editors


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 11 2012 (2293 days ago)
southpawcanoo (154428)
Does anyone know when the wild mile is suitable for an open boat canoe...? I imagine it's a bit
pushy at about 2000cfs, and as such I think one might spend more time bailing then paddling. My
thoughts are below 1500cfs might provide for some canoe creeking
July 12 2006 (4423 days ago)
Chris GormanDetails
There is a closed dirt road along the river. Drive up through big fork past a fly shop as far as
you can. The road is closed so you will have to walk. The dirt road offers very limited views of
the river. To get good shots you will have to hike down a steep hill on some very faint trails. I
was able to hike the whole section but it was not easy. Expect lots of climbing over trees and
rocks. The run is very continuous class 4 (at 2500cfs)

But that is the run above the playspot. There is an easily accessible playspot. But to access it
you will need to speak to the home owner as the only way to take pictures is to be in someone


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Associated Projects

  • Swan River, Bigfork Hydro (MT)
    AW negotiated scheduled recreational releases, flow information, public access, and land protection as part of a new hydro license on the Swan River in Montana.

Events

Calendar Control Date:
Calendar by Date by Title

August 2017

S M T W T F S
30
31
1
2
Swan River Releases
5:00 pm -9:00 pm mst
800-800 cfs

3
4
5
6
7
8
9
Swan River Releases
5:00 pm -9:00 pm mst
800-800 cfs

10
11
12
13
14
15
16
Swan River Releases
5:00 pm -9:00 pm mst
800-800 cfs

17
18
19
20
21
22
23
Swan River Releases
5:00 pm -9:00 pm mst
800-800 cfs

24
25
26
27
28
29
30
Swan River Releases
5:00 pm -9:00 pm mst
800-800 cfs

31
1
2

Events
Swan River Releases Bigfork,MT runs 07/04/07 - 08/30/17
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