The Thompson is a beautiful roadside river with several short interesting sections of easy whitewater separated by realtively long sections of flat moving water. The rapids are generally located near the confluence with the Clark Fork, and upstream about 3-4 miles in an obvious section of rapids. Rapids are comparable in difficulty to the Blackfoot River, with a bit more complexity and structure. The river begins up near Highway 2 in "Thompson Lakes," and flows south through Plumb Creek Timber Co. and Lolo National Forest service lands. Although the biggest whitewater may be near the end, good paddling starts near the Little Thompson River confluence.
There are two roads paralleling the river. Thompson River Road is the main highway and runs along the west (river right) side of the river. The river-left road is smaller and provides ample river access and scouting opportunities. Bridges connect the two roads only at Little Thompson River and near Clark Fork.
Getting there: The Thompson River is located in the northwest corner of Montana. It flows into the Clark Fork just east of Thompson Falls, which is west of Plains, MT along Hwy. 200.
You should see it at 1,200 or even 2,000 it gets even more fun.
I think that around 2,000 it warants a class IV, and is much faster and pushier with a few log jams to avoid. It is a blast, and one of my favorite rivers in western MT. Also it can be a great warmup for Prospect Creek which is just the other side of T Falls.
8 years ago
by Karl Smithback
I scouted this reach at 630cfs and thought the flow looked really pleasant. It could certainly be run lower and higher, and the flow range noted on this page is very rough, especially on the high end.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
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.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!