McDonald Creek - Going to the Sun Roadside

McDonald Creek, Montana, US


Going to the Sun Roadside

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 10.3 Miles
Avg. Gradient 40 fpm

McDonald Creek in the Fall

McDonald Creek in the Fall
Photo by Kevin Colburn taken 10/30/99 @ 1800 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
M F Flathead River near West Glacier MT
usgs-12358500 1200 - 5000 cfs V 01h02m 909 cfs (too low)

River Description

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. 

Permit Information

Mussel Check Station Permit

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-03-21 14:08:58


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Sacred Dancing CascadeN/A
0.0McDonald FallsN/A

Rapid Descriptions

McDonald Falls (Class N/A)

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