Frequently Asked Questions
Several reasons. Our 35 years of experience on Montana's Flathead Rivers, professional river guides well-trained in safety and first aid, high quality self-bailing rafts and inflatable kayaks, and multiple trip options make us one of the leading whitewater rafting outfitters in Montana. We offer a variety of trips on the Flathead Rivers, including the rush of Class II to III rapids on our half and full-day adventures, a scenic float trip through a quiet secluded canyon, and a variety of multi-day options.
We provide U.S. Coast Guard approved lifejackets for your safety and protection. Clean, comfortable wetsuits, booties, fleece and splash gear are available for your added comfort.
Just about anyone can go whitewater rafting. No experience is necessary, although most of our trips require some paddling and you will probably get wet! Glacier Outdoor Center welcomes rafters young and old, with minimum age restrictions dependent on weather and water conditions.
In general during summer, children as young as 5 may participate in our raft trips. Spring trips require an older minimum age as the level of difficulty increases, while late season water conditions may allow younger children. During high water, our 4-day wilderness trip requires a minimum age of 16. With advance notice, we can accommodate special needs.
We offer whitewater rafting adventures 7 days a week from early May through mid-September, depending on weather and water conditions. The Flathead Rivers are free flowing, dependent on snow pack melt for their water flow. As a result, the water level and flow peak in early June with Class II-III whitewater. The rivers gradually recede and slow to solid Class II whitewater as the summer progresses. The high water adventure of early season rafting usually requires wetsuits, while warmer summer air and water temperatures let us raft in T-shirts and shorts.
Since the Flathead Rivers are dependent on snow melt, the water temperature early in the season can be cold (45°), requiring the use of wetsuits by all rafters. As the summer progresses, the river warms up considerably and many of our rafters enjoy a refreshing swim in some of the calmer stretches of the river. From early May to mid-September, we offer rafting trips rain or shine! Since you'll get wet anyway, rafting can be a great way to spend a rainy or cloudy day! Splash jackets and pants are provided.
Whitewater is rated on a difficulty scale between I and VI. The Middle Fork of the Flathead River is classified Class II-IV and is considered exciting family whitewater.
· Class I Very Easy: Small, regular waves, few obstacles, little maneuvering required
· Class II Easy: Easy rapids, eddies and bends, some maneuvering required
· Class III Medium: Numerous waves, narrow passages, maneuvering required, may require scouting
· Class IV Difficult: Difficult rapids, abrupt bends, narrow passages, scouting often necessary, precise maneuvering required
· Class V Very Difficult: Long rapids with wild turbulence and extremely congested routs, complex maneuvering, scouting is difficult
· Class VI Limits of Navigation: Nearly impossible and very dangerous, a definite hazard to life.
The majority of the whitewater on the Middle Fork of the Flathead is within 5 miles of West Glacier. You will encounter 9 major rapids, all of which are included with our daily whitewater adventures.
Our half-day whitewater trip is 8 river miles. Depending on river flow, this trip will take 2 ½ to 4 hours, including a short bus shuttle to the river and instruction and safety information.
Our full-day whitewater trip is 15 river miles. Total time including bus shuttle to the river, instruction and safety information, and lunch along the river is 5 to 6 hours per trip.
Our staff of rafting specialists is available to assist you with questions and advice, as well as take your reservation over the phone during our business hours. For real-time availability, please feel free to call our office staff at 1-800-235-6781 or e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
However, if you prefer to do business online, use our On-Line Reservations Form to request a reservation by credit card through our secure server. A 50% per person deposit will confirm your reservation. Full payment is due 45 days prior to trip departure. If a reservation is made less than 45 days prior to departure, payment must be made in full.
If you need to cancel your reservation, please notify us immediately. For daily adventures, cancellations made more than 24 hours prior to trip departure will receive a full refund; cancellations within 24 hours are non-refundable, but the deposit may be applied to another trip during the same season. For multi-day trips and cabin reservations, cancellations made more than 45 days prior to trip departure or cabin rental will receive a refund less 25% of the total; cancellations within 45 days are non-refundable but 75% of total may be applied to a trip/cabin stay within the following year.
Our daily adventure trips depart from our office in the village of West Glacier, located at #6 Going-to-the-Sun Road between the Alberta Visitors Center and the MRC Gas Station. Glacier Outdoor Center provides transportation to the put-in. Your trip will end at West Glacier, a short walk from our office.
Our multi-day, fishing and self-guided adventures depart from Glacier Outdoor Center, located at 12400 Hwy 2 East, West Glacier, under the giant log arch on the south side of US Highway 2, ½ mile west of West Glacier. Glacier Outdoor Center provides transportation to and from the river.
Every raft (with the exception of inflatable kayaks and self-guided trips) has a professional river guide. Most of our guides have worked with us for many seasons. We use only self-bailing rafts, 13-16 feet in length, designed for 6-10 paddlers plus a guide. In addition, there is room for a couple of non-paddlers in each raft.
Glacier Raft Company uses paddle rafts, with active participation by rafters through the rapids and flatter stretches of the river. Paddling is not continuous. Each raft has room for up to 4 non-paddlers for those who cannot or prefer not to paddle. Although paddling is preferred, with advance notice oar rafts may be available. Multi-day trips utilize a combination of paddle rafts and oar rafts (which haul gear and some people).
Dress according to weather and water conditions. Complimentary splash gear, including pullover tops and pants, are available on all daily trips. On a warm, sunny day, wear a swimming suit or shorts, a T-shirt and hat, along with shoes you don't mind getting wet.
During early season or on cooler days, wetsuits, wool or fleece shirts and hats, and neoprene booties along with splash gear will make your rafting adventure more enjoyable. Wetsuits are provided at no extra charge when required due to temperature or water levels. Wetsuits and booties are available for rent from Glacier Outdoor Center.
As a general rule, don't take anything with you on the raft that can't get wet. If you wear eyeglasses or sunglasses, be sure to bring along a retainer to hold them on (disposable cameras and eyeglass retainers are available for purchase in our store). Bottled water is good on hot days. Bring along a towel and dry clothing to change into after the trip and lock it all in your vehicle and leave your car keys in the office for safekeeping.
Suggested packing lists are provided for our multi-day adventures.
If you want to bring a camera, we recommend only a disposable, waterproof camera (available for purchase in our office). Watch for our photographer as you come around the bend at Bonecrusher! You can check out your photos after your trip and take home lasting memories of your adventure with us.
We offer a complete line of rental clothing and equipment including rafts, inflatable kayaks, wetsuits and booties, life jackets, fishing equipment (including rods, reels, waders, and float tubes), plus sleeping bags, pads and other camping equipment. Whatever you need for a fun river adventure or for hiking in Glacier National Park, you’ll find it at Glacier Outdoor Center.
We will make every effort to meet special requests. Let us know in advance if you would like a particular guide and we will do our best to match the guide's schedule with yours.
Many of our guests ask if it's okay to tip their guide. Although not expected, if you feel the service you receive from your guide is exceptional, a tip is always appreciated. Guide gratuity envelopes are available in our offices.
Glacier Outdoor Center has a heritage of providing safe and responsible tours in and around Glacier National Park and the Great Bear and Bob Marshall Wilderness areas. Our livelihood is based on this great land, therefore we try to be as earth-sensitive as possible in our business operations. Our goal is to leave this area just as we found it, for future generations to enjoy.