McDonald Creek an easily accessed creek run in Glacier National Park. The run is characterized by a handful of challenging Class V bedrock drops separated by Class I/II sections offering spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. At least one drop may require portaging. Clear blue water and wildlife viewing opportunities add to the creek's special experience, as do spectators gathered at overlooks. All major rapids can be seen from overlooks on the Going to the Sun Road.
NOTE: McDonald Creek is CLOSED TO BOATING from April 1 to September 30 to protect harlequin duck nesting habitat. The road is also noted as 'closed winters'. These closures make catching the creek with suitable water levels extremely difficult. Please follow this Park rule, and boat with the utmost care for natural resources and the experience of other visitors when enjoying rivers and streams in any National Park. Check out Paddlers Preventing Aquatic Invasive Species from American Whitewater on Vimeo.
In addition, All streams in Glacier National Park require paddlers to first visit an invasive mussel check station. These stations are currently (2017) open only May 15 - October 31, so paddlers may not paddle in Glacier outside of these timeframes. This, in combo with the duck closure, means that McDonald Creek is currently only legal to paddle in October. Check here before visiting.
The Middle Fork Flathead gage appears to be a good gage to estimate flows in McDonald Creek, as well as other Middle Fork tributaries.
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McDonald Creek in the Fall
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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.
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