Originally Posted by mikesong
How long is the boating season in Montana? I would assume the weather is pretty harsh most of the year, right?
It depends. What is harsh? Butte is harsh, cold and windy in the winter. Bozeman is not harsh, but may be considered so by people not used to winter. They'll get one or two cold snaps a winter, maybe hit -20 for a day or longer. Missoula is getting close to the banana belt of Montana, it gets above freezing a lot in the winter, and our cold snaps are more like -10. But Missoula doesn't always have snow in town, so it can look ugly at those times. Fortunately our ski area is up quite a bit higher than town, but it is still warmer than MT ski areas, like Bridger. Bozeman has sunnier winters, Missoula is plagued by the cloudy inversions of Western Montana. Both summers are excellent.
I boated the Lochsa a week ago Monday, the Alberton gorge can be run year round as long as there is not ice. The main boating (runoff) season is mid April - mid July in a good year. Some stuff dies out sooner, others keep going. There is some dam controlled around, but not a lot, and it runs much longer. I think there's a lot of good creeking, but I don't know details since I don't kayak. The really good boating in Missoula is over in Idaho, which is just up the road. I'm pretty sure the Missoula boating beats Bozeman for available runs. I know since my ski body slowly fails and I've become a rabid boater, I wouldn't want to move back to Bozeman anymore.
Hmmm, business may be the one school that UM has over MSU. I don't know jack about MSU's but that is one UM program that is quite rigorous and I think is considered quite good. You'll have a better chance of winter boating without freezing to death in Missoula, but Bozeman has Beartrap which is dam controlled and fun all winter. Fun when I launched a year ago at 16 degrees, took out a 20. Pretty cold. More and more people are winter boating in Missoula, and the local kayak shop is all over SUP and surfing in certain spots even when the river is frozen. The shop is Strongwater