SOUTH FORK FLATHEAD

Hike past pristine mountain lakes and snow-covered peaks. Cast for native trout along grassy meadows bursting with wildflowers. Feel the exhilaration of whitewater rushing through a narrow gorge. Four days of hiking and four days of rafting make for a truly unique backcountry experience in the wilds of Montana. Come see for yourself why the South Fork of the Flathead is a guide favorite!

Similar Trips:
Middle Fork Flathead •  Middle Fork Salmon

Departure Month: July, June
Region: Montana
Rating: Expedition, High Adventure, Intermediate
Pricing: Above $2000

“The fishing was unbelievable, the river was perfect, the food was great, the hikes were beautiful and the company was the best.  Speaking for Trent and myself, we did not want the trip to end.  We will forever cherish the time we shared in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.”  Steve Page, 2012

The hike includes clear mountain lakes and a high mountain pass surrounded by majestic snowy peaks and lush green valleys.  This remote valley, deep in the Bob Marshal Wilderness is home to extraordinary wildlife including elk, moose, wolf, eagles, mountain goats, grizzly and black bear.  Backpack or let the horses carry your gear and wear only a light daypack.  We travel 6 to 10 miles a day through spectacular backcountry and most routes include one day of uphill climbing.  Just when your feet are getting a bit heavy, we reach the cool, clear waters of the South Fork.

The river is one of the prettiest and most productive trout streams in North America. For the first two days, the water meanders lazily through a sweeping glacial valley and grand Ponderosa Pines.  We dedicate plenty of river time to fishing for one of the purest strains of Westslope Cutthroat trout in the world.  Big and plenty, these native fish average 12-20 inches.  On one of our trips last summer three people fishing the same hole each caught 20 fish in under an hour!  On the third day of the float, we enter Meadow Creek Gorge and the character of the river changes dramatically. The narrow, limestone gorge allows only paddleboats on this section of the river and for six miles the water crashes through a series of class III to V rapids (this section is optional).  One day of the South Fork’s whitewater is enough adrenaline for the whole trip!  The final night is a celebration of our amazing adventure around a roaring campfire.  The last day includes a casual float and fishing from the boat.  Join us for eight wonderful days in the incredible Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana.

2021 Schedules and Prices

South Fork Flathead
DATES:

For information on scheduling a South Fork Flathead trip in 2020, inquire here or call us at 208-756-3959.

South Fork Flathead fishing-specific trip: July 18th – 25th, 2020

RATES:

General South Fork Flathead trip rates: inquire here or call us at 208-756-3959.

8-Day South Fork Fly-fishing Trip ~ $5900.00
*Price subject to 7% Forest Service User Fees

Included: We provide transportation from Kalispell to the river and back to Kalispell at the end of the trip. All meals and snacks beginning with lunch on the first day and ending with lunch on the last day. We also provide use of our sleeping bags, pads, and tents (or you can bring your own for a $40 discount). You will be given dry bags for clothing and sleeping gear as well as a smaller bag for day use. Wetsuits are available in the springtime.

Not Included: Cost does not include hotels before or after the trip, alcohol, or guide gratuities.

DISCOUNTS:
Charter trips
are available. This means your group has reserved the entire trip. Ask for details.
Group discounts
based upon the number of people in your party.
Discounts
are also available for children. Please contact us for details.

DEPOSIT AND RESERVATION:
Reservations can be made online or by calling our office.
Payment:
A 25% non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot. The remainder is due 45 days prior to trip departure.

After your reservation, we will promptly send you a trip packet including general information on your trip, your invoice and statement, a gear list, and medical and liability waiver forms that you will need to return to our office.

CANCELLATION AND REFUNDS:
Operating quality trips is a costly operation with no margin for losses resulting from late cancellations. The space you reserve is held for you, and this may mean turning others away. Each trip is planned for the number of reserved spaces, guides scheduled, supplies bought, and rafts and vehicles assigned. If notice of cancellation is 45 days prior to departure, you may transfer to any other trip in the same season without penalty. A cancellation less than 45 days before the trip is non-refundable. Depending on circumstances, we can discuss other trip options.

Travel Insurance: We strongly recommend that you protect yourself with a short-term traveler’s insurance policy.  Trip cancellation will cover your losses on non-refundable air and land cost on unexpected cancellations.

Cancelled Trips: We reserve the right to cancel a trip due to insufficient reservations, weather, or water conditions. In such cases, a full refund for the trip is given. If possible, we will offer an option of a different trip of comparable type.

TRIP LOGISTICS

The South Fork of the Flathead trip begins and ends in Kalispell, Montana.

Before the trip:
Fly commercially into Kalispell, Montana.  Delta, Alaska/Horizon, United, Alegiant, Frontier and US Airways offer flights into Glacier International Airport (FCA).  A variety of car rentals are available should you decide to visit Glacier National Park before or after your trip.  Please alert our office of your arrival time and we can arrange to pick you up.

We will provide transportation from Kalispell to the Rich Ranch the day before your trip is scheduled to begin.  Please make sure you arrive in Kalispell before 3 p.m. You can arrange lodging the night before at the Rich Ranch, dinner reservations and the will orientation at the Rich Ranch. You will be responsible for the cost of lodging and dinner here. We will need to have our gear ready early the next morning (especially if you’ve chosen to use horse support). A short drive to the trailhead and we’ll be on our way.

Motel After:
Make your reservations at the Red Lion Hotel (1-800-547-8010) or Travellodge (1-406-755-6123) in Kalispell. The hotel will provide shuttle service from the airport.

After the trip:
We provide transportation back to Kalispell.

SAMPLE ITINERARY
We like to keep our schedule flexible so we can customize every trip.  Activities will vary according to the group interests, weather, and water levels.

Day before the trip:
Arrive in Kalispell, MT. We will provide transportation from Kalispell to the Rich Ranch.  Please make sure you arrive in Kalispell before 3 p.m.  

Day 1: We’ll get an early start for our drive to the Pyramid or Holland Lake trailhead. Depending on the route in, but over the first two days we will cover about 20-25 miles.

Day 2: Finish off the hike or horseback ride to the river put in where we will meet the rafts. Usually we would reach the river mid afternoon the second day camping at the river the second night.

Day 3-4: The third morning we would head downstream on the river, stopping for some fishing along the way and camping at some beautiful riverside campsites.  On our adventure South Fork trips, we use a mix a paddle rafts and inflatable kayaks some people can try different boat options.  There is the option to add a fishing boat for an additional fee, fishing boats are booked for two people.  

Day 5-6: We’ll be rafting the calm and beautiful upper South Fork, floating around lazy corners and casting along undercut banks. There will be plenty of opportunities to try out the superb fishing, and we’ll take some time to wander through the beautiful Ponderosa Parks, for the chance to see grazing elk.

Day 7: Depending on the group and water levels we may run the Meadow Creek Gorge on the seventh day and camp below the tight and technically rapid section the final night. The whitewater is thrilling with a series of class III and IV+ whitewater. The gorge itself is very beautiful and with a trail along the river, so the whitewater is optional.  The run through the gorge is dependent on the river level, the gorge being clear of logjams and guide discretion.  If flows are not right for the gorge, we will camp the final night above the gorge.

Day 8: If we run the gorge, the final day is fairly quite and beautiful float to our take out. We’ll have lunch on the river and take-out by mid-day. The drive back to Kalispell is about 2 1/2 hours.  If we camp above the gorge, we will arrive at mid-creek mid day the final day and there is a three mile hike to the trailhead where we would meet the vehicles before we drive back to Kalispell. 

*Itinerary and route to river is subject to change based on the desired hiking and whitewater interest of the group.

South Fork of the Flathead River Suggested Gear

Download Printable Check List

PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

This is the suggested gear list for this particular trip. Having the right gear is important to make it the best possible experience for you. Most of the gear listed you will have or you can use it year-round on any outdoor excursion (football games, boating, skiing, etc.) We want you to have everything you will need to be comfortable and happy.

Please: no stereos, radios, cell phones or watches

GEAR PROVIDED – we provide LIFE JACKETS, 2 WATERPROOF DUFFEL BAGS (one for sleeping bag, pad & ground cloth, and one for clothing), WATERPROOF DAY BAG for items you would like accessible during the day (dry shirt, suntan lotion, camera, etc.), and WETSUITS.  We provide SLEEPING BAGS, PADS, AND TENTS.

GEAR NEEDED:

BACKPACK (for the backpacking trips)

FISHING GEAR

RAIN GEAR… good jacket and pants, poncho’s aren’t enough. AVOID VINYL & CHEAP PLASTICS.

3 LIGHTWEIGHT SHIRTS…one long sleeved.

2 PAIR LONG PANTS, synthetic are best.

2 pair SHORTS…synthetics dry faster – good to wear over swimsuit.

SWIMSUITS…nylon is best because it dries faster.

CAP TO BLOCK SUN, & WOOL OR SYNTHETIC HAT for cool evenings…a must for everyone.  In case of wind attach with a tie or clip.

GLOVES OR MITTENS…synthetic or wool.

2 WARM SHIRTS…wool or polar fleece (2)

LONG UNDERWEAR…polypro or capilene (not cotton) tops & bottoms.

WARM JACKET…synthetic piles are popular because they are warm even when damp.

FOOTWEAR: The comfort of your feet will make a big difference in your enjoyment of the trip!

HIKING BOOTS …well broken in. No brand new boots please.

SOCKS…5-6 pair, 2 heavy (wool or fleece) and 2 liner socks and 2 medium weight synthetic.

THIN LINER SOCKS…nylon or synthetic, not cotton.

RUNNING SHOES OR SANDALS…for around camp and short hikes.

RIVER SANDALS or OLD RUNNING SHOES FOR WATER.

NEOPRENE SOCKS (described on back side) and old running shoes… this is the best combination we’ve found for keeping your feet warm and safe on the river.

SUNGLASSES AND TIES FOR GLASSES…protects against glare.  Pack an extra pair of glasses or contacts.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

SUNBLOCK

LOTION

BIODEGRADABLE SOAP & SHAMPOO

CHAPSTICK

INSECT REPELLENT

FLASHLIGHT…small one is fine, headlamps work great.

WATER BOTTLE…1 liter.

CAMERA…bring an extra battery as most people find one is not enough.

SMALL DAY OR FANNY PACK…for side excursions.

ZIPLOCKS…for personal trash and organization

ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE…if desired (unbreakable containers).

BINOCULARS (optional)

Wilderness River Outfitters provide a MAJOR FIRST AID KIT.  However, we do recommend you bring your own preferred personal medication and accessories (Advil, Tylenol, Aspirin, Band-Aids, Cold medicine, etc..)

Reviews from the South Fork of the Flathead River Trip

Jeanie H –  Great Falls, MT 2020 (Read Review of Trip Advisor)

WRO is the best!
Three trips with WRO, and they never cease to make your experience a good one. Guides are top notch!

I just did the South Fork of the Flathead with WRO, including the optional gorge. The trip was beautiful, with great fishing, good hikes, and a good combination of rapids. Going through the gorge was icing on the cake!