A short float down the lower Middle Fork of the Flathead River is incredibly scenic, but don’t expect privacy.
The roughly five-mile trip from West Glacier to Blankenship Bridge passes along the edge of Glacier National Park and through spectacular canyons with deep pools. Given its location, however, this is a popular half-day float for commercial rafting companies hauling Glacier-going tourists. So during peak summer travel time, there are lots of boats passing through these waters.
The launch point is the West Glacier River Access Boating Site, a Flathead National Forest-maintained site that’s tucked into a suburb next to the Glacier View Golf Club.
The Blankenship Bridge takeout is where the North Fork of the Flathead River joins the Middle Fork. Parking can be challenging on weekends at peak times. If possible, try and get on the water early or late to beat the crowds and aim for a weekday launch if possible.
Unlike the section upstream that includes some rowdy whitewater rapids, this stretch of the Middle Fork is mellow. Plan a picnic stop along the way to enjoy the cliff section and deep pools for a swim. Even during the heat of summer, thought, this water remains chilly.
Please be considerate of the heavy use in this area and pack out your trash or even pick up garbage left by our less conscientious river users.