Yaak River MT Beta - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-18-2017   #1
Bozeman, Montana
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 11
Yaak River MT Beta

I'm looking for some intel on the Yaak. I've never been through the area with an eye for floating it and it's been years since I've been up there, so any insight would be helpful.

I'm planning a camping trip next week with the wife and two dogs. We're fairly competent on II-III and don't want to push it any further with pups on board. I have a 14.5' Soatar or an 11' Puma, both set up with row frames. I'm really hoping I can squeeze the Sotar through the upper section above the falls, but with some of my reading, it sounds like that may be a stretch. I'm thinking Yaak Bridge to 17 Mile Bridge. Can anybody comment on boat access sites and viability in getting a 14' raft through there?

Also, does anybody know what access below the falls is like and if a stretch into Kootenai would be worth it. I'm concerned with the limited access and the two main drops. Purpose of the trip is to do some prelim scouting for mellower floats and fishing. I've got a young nephew that loves to fish and we take him on a yearly float/camp trip, so I'm checking out new opportunities for that July trip. Thanks for the help!

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Old 05-18-2017   #2
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,606
Perhaps you should check out American Whitewater for some information on this run. Below the falls to the Kootenai is most definitely NOT a II-III run.
Living in Montana, boating in Idaho
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Old 05-18-2017   #3
Ever_Cat's Avatar
Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 121
I second what Laura says about the lower section. I have never boated the Yaak, only fished it while in the area a few times. The lower section from the falls to the Kootenai is definitely for the hard core as it is fast, rocky and technical, especially at the current flow of 3000 cfs and any mishap could be hard to recover from.

I have fished parts of the upper section but I don't recall exactly where without pulling out a map. The Yaak meanders quite a bit in the upper section and in mid-summer when I have been there it was low water and not really suited for rafting. I suspect there may be a section or two on the upper stretch that would go for you this time of year but you should definitely do some research. Perhaps someone that has rafted this will chime in with some definitive info.

The fishing on the upper section is decent (pending flow), especially for a youngster that will get a kick out of hooking countless small trout on a dry fly.

Beware, a grizzly did pop its head through the trees directly across the river from my son and me one day while fishing and that got our attention. Be BEAR AWARE anywhere on the Yaak.
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