River Etiquette

Ethics and River Etiquette for River Recreationists

Glacier Country and Northwest Montana’s rivers and streams are among our state’s greatest assets.

As recreational use on and near Montana’s river resources continues to grow, different river user groups (fishing, floating, tubing, camping, etc.) are encountering each other more frequently. This can lead to conflict between users or a perception of river crowding.

Access sites and boat launches are receiving more traffic and at times are congested. In some cases, river users are not respectful of private land, causing tension between river users and landowners. Additionally, increasing recreational use of rivers is placing pressure on natural resources and resulting in problems such as litter, human waste, and vegetation degradation.

It is crucial for river users to work together to protect our rivers.

Here is a list of river ethics and etiquette to follow so that we can all enjoy Montana’s great river resources and help protect the recreational experience and the resource.

Be ready to float before you get on the ramp.
Organize gear and load boats before approaching the ramp.
Inflate and rig rafts away from the ramp.
Be aware of the space available at the launch area and use only what you need.
Rig and unrig fishing rods away from the ramp.
Once in the water, clear the launch area as soon as possible.
When taking out, leave

Profanity and obnoxious behavior is inappropriate and offensive.
Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous—be responsible when drinking alcohol on and around the river.
Be discrete when changing clothing.
Keep dogs under control and on a leash.
Encounters and group size affect the river experience

Be prepared for encounters with other river users.
Be friendly and communicate when encountering others on the river.
River crowding is often attributed to encounters with other floaters—keep your group size and number of watercraft to a minimum.
Using firearms in a river corridor can be hazardous and disturbing to others. During hunting season, remember that others may be using the river.
Give space to other river users and remember your river etiquette.

Give anglers wide berth to avoid floating through the area they are fishing.
If it is impossible to avoid floating through the area someone is fishing, politely explain your situation and apologize for the intrusion.
Attempt to keep out of sight of other boaters and anglers.
Don’t monopolize a fishing hole. Fish for awhile and move on.
Give anglers wide berth to avoid floating through the area they are fishing.

Non-motorized watercraft usually have the right-of-way over powerboats.
Non-motorized watercraft should yield the deeper channel to powerboats, which require a deeper channel to navigate safely.
Powerboats should use no-wake speeds when passing non-motorized watercraft and wade anglers.
Paddlers ‘surfing’ on a wave should yield to ‘through boaters.’

Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ river ethics.
Know river skills and carry the necessary equipment to minimize your impact.
Don’t leave your trash—Pack it in-Pack it out.
Use existing restrooms or pack out human waste and toilet paper with a portable toilet.
Avoid using the streambed as a pathway and instead—walk along the shoreline within the high water mark.
Observe wildlife from a distance.
Camp in designated campsites.
Do not build rock fire rings—use designated fire rings or a fire pan.
Always be mindful of fire danger and make sure campfires are dead out before leaving.
Respect private land along the river.
Know your rights and responsibilities under the Stream Access Law.
Stay below the ordinary high water mark.
Respect private property, don’t trespass.
Keep dogs on a leash and under control.
Respect ranchers’ needs for fencing, and learn how to use float gates and portage routes.
Leave gates as you find them.
Obtain permission before camping or recreating on private property.

We at Adventure Missoula know you will do your best and doing that will ensure that we are able to continue recreating on our rivers and open spaces.

Scenic River Floats

Scenic river floats are an often overlooked way to enjoy the water on a hot day….You can go down one of Missoula’s three rivers, jump in and go for a swim, relax as you take in the beautiful mountain vistas, and experience some great wildlife viewing.

By far the best scenic trip is on the majestic Clark Fork River.

The Missoula Valley is surrounded by picturesque mountains and ponderosa pine forests. A scenic float trip is a grand way to navigate through the beautiful landscape while you quietly view the wildlife in its natural habitat. Not only is it relaxing, but the Clark Fork is less crowded than the other rivers. You can pull over along the banks for a picnic or jump in the river for a refreshing swim.

Just below the wild waters of the Alberton Gorge you will find the much calmer Tarkio Gorge. This stretch of river has great swimming holes and nice sandy beaches. We have a favorite stop for lunch or continue down this peaceful stretch of river and do something else with the second half of your day. Along the way you may see some great wildlife…. including elk, deer, moose, bald eagles, osprey, and, beavers. This scenic float trip is a great way to take in all the beautiful sights found in the Missoula Valley.

We float a 6 mile stretch of river April through November.

The float usually takes a little over 3 hours, which allows a family to get ready for a fun dinner, go for a hike, or engage in another short activity to conquer another great Missoula day on vacation.

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Coeur d’Alene River Float

Coeur d'Alene River float

Nestled in the panhandle of beautiful North Idaho, the Coeur d’Alene River is a must see. Gliding through the clear water you’ll see Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout swimming along side of you, as well as Osprey and Bald Eagles flying above. Our Coeur d’Alene River float trips are guided by knowledgeable fishing guides who know the area forwards and back. Bring along your binoculars and take in the scenery.

The river is calm with a few class II rapids along the way that add some waves to your journey. Our Coeur d’Alene   River trip is an awesome option for families with young children, bird watchers, or any groups looking for a peaceful day on the water. We are the only company permitted to raft this river, the only humans you’ll run into along the way are wading fishermen and the occasional inner-tuber.

You meet us downtown Coeur d’Alene, and we shuttle you to and from the river. The “put in” is about 25 minutes from the heart of Coeur d’Alene and perfectly displays how quickly you can get out of town in the inland North West. Every boat is packed with a cooler, water, and dry bags, so feel free to bring along snacks for your adventure. Cameras are highly encouraged, these are scenes you will want to remember forever!

Coeur d'Alene River float

Things To Do

There are some really fun things to do in the Missoula area if you know what to look for and where to be when. For example, one should definitely go to one of the following for Breakfast:

The Old Post

Bagels on Broadway

Then, if you have kids you should definitely go to Dragon Hallow in the morning before it gets busy or the slides and park gets hot.

We recommend walking over to Mobash Skatepark with a latte and watching the skaters and people watching after picking up some flowers from the Saturday Markets or grabbing a pastry at Bernices Bakery.

Then, you should grab lunch to go at the Good Food Store and then Hike the M hill and eat it at the top while taking great pictures and marveling at the striations on the hillsides from Glacial Missoula.

In the afternoon, when it gets hot, drive out to our shop and go rafting! Adventure Missoula needs a heads up because we only employ local guides and a handful of them to work. We are the areas local ma and pa fishing and rafting headquarters, so it doesn’t matter what you prefer, you know your going to get the best service and quality people by calling us…preferably a day or two in advance if not more if you are on a schedule.

Montana’s premier whitewater location is the Alberton Gorge, located just minutes from Missoula on the Clark Fork River. The Gorge is a beautiful steep-walled canyon section of the Clark Fork that makes for a perfect hot summer day trip. With class II and III whitewater this is a great trip for beginners and experts alike with lots of splash and plenty of swimming opportunities. The best time of year to raft the river is late June through early August. Plan a trip with us and take the whole family on a trip that will be remembered forever.

A favorite of locals, Alberton Gorge is just 46 miles west of Missoula on the Clark Fork River.  This Class III whitewater run is high adventure, with five rollicking rapids.  It winds its way through thick forests and cool rock formations and has plenty of sandy beaches perfect for lunch or just kicking back.  Be on the lookout for bald eagles and osprey.  We offer both half- and full-day adventures on the Gorge.

The local music scene is incredible. End your night walking around town and looking in the local newspaper: Missoula Independent for that night’s activities.

The next day: Consider booking a fishing trip with us and drinking a bloody mary in the morning after your big night out listening to music and getting caught up in the frenzie of Missoula’s night life.

We’ll get you on big fish and remind you to slow down and enjoy your life, as it ought to be enjoyed…listening to the world around you and taking it all in on this journey on another rotation around the sun.


Paddle Boarding Lake Coeur d’Alene

paddle boarding Lake Coeur d'Alene

A rad way to enjoy nature, paddle boarding Lake Coeur d’Alene is a crowd favorite for summertime activities. Get out and soak up the sun, while also getting a workout. Staying balanced on your board is great for your core muscles. Haven’t tried it before? No worries, get into the groove by kneeling on the board before trying to stand.

A few popular destinations on the lake are Tubbs hill and the Spokane River. Lined with trees and jumpable cliffs, Tubbs hill is a beautiful way to spend a day exploring. You can even find some caves if you keep a sharp eye out. The Spokane River is slightly calmer water than the lake on most days. There’s a cool channel behind the Blackwell boat launch where various birds and ducks like to hang out, some might even follow you if your lucky.

We’ve got enough rental boards for the whole family. We will get you suited with the right gear, loaded up in our van, and down to the water! We drop off at the N.I.C beach, and your free to paddle wherever you’d like. Two hour rentals are now available as well for $20. Call us and book your rentals! 

paddle boarding Lake Coeur d'Alene