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Difficulty IV-V
Length 6 Miles
Gauge Boulder River at Big Timber MT
Flow Range 1400 - 2500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 4660 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 10/31/2010 1:26 pm

River Description

The West Boulder is an excellent run in a wild and incredibly beautiful setting. Start hiking up the trail at the end of West Boulder Road. After a while you will come to a beautiful meadow with the river winding in wide s-curves down the center. The views from this meadow of the Absarokee Mountains are stunning and it is a great pleasure to float through them on the wind-down from the drops found upstream. Continue on for a few more miles. The two major drops (V's) are easily scouted on the way up and are just as fun as they look from the trail. If the holes in the center and river right side of the biggest drop have you biting your nails and the fun factor appears low, you should probably leave this one alone. The other smaller "s-turns" drop runs very cleanly and is a hoot. We slid in just downstream of the river wide log.
A bit further up the trail is an obvious gorged-up section. Scout this thoroughly for wood and know that the hardest part about this gorge is the drops just upstream that are difficult to scout. We put in about a half mile above this first gorge and very soon found ourselves dropping into some chunky, threatening class V. Move slowly through here.
The river is fun, pretty fast, and the gorge and the two big drops are of very high quality. There are a couple of other really fun drops laced throughout West Boulder as well. You will know 'em when you see 'em. The hike is long (6+ miles) but not overly steep and the views are excellent the whole way. Enjoy.

Lat/longitude coordinates, especially of the putin, are a rough approximation, from online maps.

Rapid Descriptions


Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description

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No Accident Reports



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Montana National Forest Proposes New River Protections

Kevin Colburn

The Custer-Gallatin National Forest has proposed new protections for 18 outstanding streams in Montana through their forest planning process. The Forests propose to manage these streams as “eligible” for Wild and Scenic designation, along with 12 other rivers and streams previously determined to be eligible. The Forests’ analysis is solid in our view and merits appreciation from paddlers, though there is room for a bit of improvement. They are accepting comments through August 12, 2017.

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Appeal Challenging Montana Navigability Is Denied

Jason Robertson

On May 28 the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal by Mountain States Legal Foundation who filed a lawsuit in June 2001 alleging the 1985 Montana Stream Access Law violated their rights under the U.S. Constitution to regulate who floated over their land.

The decision thereby protects Montana's Stream access law and public rights of navigation throughout the State.

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River Recreationists Win Big in Montana!

Jason Robertson

The Missoulian newspaper reported on January 5th, 2001 that U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell dismissed a case brought by the Mountain States Legal Foundation challenging public recreational rights on Montana’s rivers and streams. This is a huge win for boaters and fishermen!

Matt Muir


David Schroeder


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1198520 10/31/10 Matt Muir Added coords and abstract; minor copyedit.
1194330 02/04/06 David Schroeder n/a