With its headwaters south of Great Falls, the Missouri River runs right through town, providing terrific spots for any water adventures:  kayaking, standup paddleboarding, boating and fishing. In addition, Great Falls is blessed with 5 falls along the Missouri River.

Craig Madsen, owner of Montana River Outfitters, says the outdoor recreational opportunities in Great Falls are among the best in the state—or the country for that matter. “There is arguably a greater variety of game, fish and birds within an hour’s drive from Great Falls than anywhere else in the lower 48,” he says. “With a river and a trail running through it, one can enjoy a taste of the outdoors without even leaving town.”

Madsen says the opportunity to catch a wild trout on the Missouri River or travel the river by paddleboard or kayak as it flows through town are a couple of those “best-kept secrets” that travelers might not expect in Great Falls. “Not only do we have a great variety of outdoor activities, but the uncrowdedness of our area makes it even more appealing,” he adds.

Exceptional fly fishing has made Great Falls a Montana fly fishing capital, while the Missouri River offers multiple activities, from canoeing to speedboats.

And of course, there are the falls. The Great Falls of the Missouri, from which the town derives its name, is actually only one of five total falls that span a 10-mile stretch of the Missouri River near the town of Great Falls. The water cascading from ledges were first seen by explorer Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis and Clark Expedition Fame) on June 13, 1805. These falls roar each spring, and create interesting winter ice formations in the winter. The five falls of the Missouri include Black Eagle Falls, Rainbow Falls, Colter Falls, Crooked Falls and The Great Falls. As quoted by Lewis, the Great Falls are “the grandest sight I ever beheld.”

“Great Falls is all about being outside, regardless of the season,” says Mayor Bob Kelly. “If you like to do anything outdoors, from hiking to hunting, snowmobiling to snowboarding, rodeo to road races, you need to visit us in Great Falls.”

The water adventures begin with the Missouri River and expand to the Sun River, Smith River, Belt Creek, Holter Lake, Willow Creek Reservoir, Benton Lake Wildlife Refuge, and Gibson Reservoir. Begin your water exploration now!