Playing on Yellowstone Country's Waters

Fairy Lake Fairy Lake, Photo by Kaden Harrison

The thrilling start of summer in Montana's Yellowstone Country is underway! Our campgrounds, rivers and lakes are buzzing with activity. The whitewater rafting season kicked off a couple of weeks ago, bringing with it the exhilaration of navigating high-water levels and challenging runs. It's a sight to behold, with daring individuals making their way down the roaring whitewater, often attracting a crowd along the Gallatin River.

The technical rapids of the Gallatin and Stillwater Rivers and the steep gorge of Big Timber Creek in the Crazy Mountains are for highly skilled boaters. But for those not driven by adrenaline, there are plenty of options for people drawn to our lakes and rivers. Soon, the water flow will slow down, and trips will become moderate and suitable for nearly any age or experience level.

The Madison River is renowned for its legendary fly fishing, but during the peak of summer, it transforms into a serene escape. The stretch below Bear Trap Canyon becomes a popular way to cool off, offering a tranquil float down on innertubes and rafts. Madison River Tubing provides several trip options, from equipment rentals to personally guided adventures, ensuring a leisurely and enjoyable afternoon.

Itch-Kep-Pe Park, Columbus, Montana Itch-Kep-Pe Park, Photo by Kaden Harrison

Hyalite Reservoir in Bozeman is one of the most popular recreation areas in the state, and it's no wonder why. The no-wake lake is perfect for canoeing, stand-up paddling boards and kayaking. For those with motorized boats, Hebgen Lake and Cooney Reservoir are great for both watersports and fishing.

It's important to note that Montana is taking serious measures to keep aquatic invasive species (AIS) at bay. AIS are plants, animals and pathogens that are non-native to our ecosystems and can cause harm to our natural and cultural resources. AIS often reproduces and spreads rapidly due to a lack of predators.

Rest assured, Montana takes robust measures to protect our waters from invasive species.  Preventative measures include mandatory inspections, which are set up near most bodies of water.  Non-residents can easily purchase a Vessel AIS Prevention Pass at a local Fish Wildflife and Parks office or online, further ensuring the safety of our waters.

Remember your lifejackets, permits and licenses (including a conservation license,) bear spray, maps, satellite communication and rain gear! While recreating on the water, please practice patience, communication and a friendly attitude. (Montanans are known for it!) Prepare your boat and gear away from the launch ramp, and park politely to avoid damaging the vegetation or blocking others.

Enjoy our rivers and lakes; thank you in advance for respecting them!

Yellowstone River, Crazy Mountains Yellowstone River, Crazy Mountains, Photo by Garret Smith