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Will be in Billings, Montana, for a wedding this coming weekend, then wife and I will have a rent car for four or five days before meeting up with others in Great Falls for a few days in the Glacier NP area. We are planning to head west from Billings towards Idaho and perhaps Yellowstone NP during those four or five free days. I was hoping to squeeze in a guided raft day trip during that time. What do you recommend regarding river and outfitter? Thanks.
 

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Geyser and Montana Whitewater both do trips on the Gallatin River, outside of Bozeman. They are both great companies with great guides. There are a number of outfitters on the Yellowstone outside of Gardiner (Yellowstone Raft Co) and there may be somebody outfitting on the Stillwater River outside of Columbus (east of Billings) but I don't have any direct feed back on specific outfitters for that river. The Gallatin is popular, a bit more to it whitewater wise than the Yellowstone. Yellowstone is more scenic. There is also Beartrap canyon (madison river), limited outfitters running it and really cool but a bit bigger than the Gallatin. I think Montana WW runs Bear trap, as well as an outfitter out of Ennis (can't remember the name, but I hear good things about both).

Also great rafting up near Glacier. Middle Fork of the Flathead via Glacier Guides. They have a cool little lodge set back in the pines if you need a place to stay. Josh (manager) is the man, he'll set you up with what ever adventure your looking for!
 

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Will be in Billings, Montana, for a wedding this coming weekend, then wife and I will have a rent car for four or five days before meeting up with others in Great Falls for a few days in the Glacier NP area. We are planning to head west from Billings towards Idaho and perhaps Yellowstone NP during those four or five free days. I was hoping to squeeze in a guided raft day trip during that time. What do you recommend regarding river and outfitter? Thanks.
You can go on the Gallatin outside of the west gate to Yellowstone (this will be a III+ trip... very cold but reasonably exciting whitewater... particularly for the next few weeks); either company (Montana Whitewater or Geyser) is good but I work for Geyser so I'll put in a shameless plug for them. This time of year we're better because we have heated changing rooms and don't make you use a porta potty. :cool: That river is about 3 hours from Billings.

The Yellowstone has a mild day trip with more of a big water feel - you'll catch that outside of Gardiner near the north gate of the park. It's a tame but pretty run... and there are a few hot-springs options on your drive out which can be cool. Most of the companies over there are fine - I don't really know one to recommend.

If you're feeling sporty and want to get a true taste of northwest whitewater head over and take a commercial run on the Lochsa with Three Rivers... you won't regret the trip or the drive. It's unbelievably beautiful and one of the best III/IV day trips in the country hands down. It's a haul but you can hit up Lolo hot springs or the Lochsa lodge - honestly I would go there rather than YNP any day (particularly if you've already been to Yellowstone). If you want a really special and spunky commercial day trip head here.

The Alberton Gorge (near Missoula) is also a decent commercial run... I don't know that I would drive all the way to Missoula just for the rafting but if you're headed that way anyway Montana River Guides do a good job.
 

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Yellowstone - Gardiner, MT - Decent option. Scenic flatwater with a couple big hit rapids. Half day is all I would do on this.

Gallatin - Bozeman, MT - Above commercial levels for the good stretch. Unless it drops below 3000 by the weekend not worth it. Probably the most technical river of the bunch but not necessarily the most classic raft trip for big moves as the guides tend to take pretty conservative lines because of the continuous nature of the river. Another half day trip.

Beartrap Canyon of the Madison - Ennis, MT - Wilderness canyon with some flatwater and a handful of fun rapids. Good level right now. Probably my top recommendation because it's a longer day but if you don't have a ton of time this might be out.

Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork - Missoula, MT - A little out of the way but a very pretty canyon with a lot of rapids. It get's blown out a bit when it's high but I don't know if it's that high. I think they run half and full day trips. Full day probably adds some flatwater and a lunch.

Middle Fork of the Flathead - West Glacier - Pretty canyon, cold water. I've paddled this river but not this stretch. Heard it's nice. Water looks big so double check they are running trips.

EDIT:

If you have the time and the level is about 10,000 run the Lochsa near Lowell, ID. It's easily a top 10 in the nation commercial trip.
 

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I know a great guide company for the stillwater put of columbus. Actually I know the owner and a guide but not the company name. Let me know if you are interested and I will find out

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