The longest river in North America, with headwaters 160 miles south of Great Falls, flows through the heart of Great Falls. During westward expansion, The Missouri became the central part of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The Missouri River contributed to Great Falls’ nickname as the Electric City. Boasting 5 falls, and today, 5 hydroelectric dams, the Missouri River today ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and fun. From boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, and more, the Missouri River is an ideal location for your outdoor adventure.

Easily accessible from Broadwater Bay, Oddfellows Park, West Bank Landing, and other locations throughout the city, we invite you to have fun on the water!

Fishing

Great Falls is the premiere basecamp for fishing! Get quick access to northern pike, walleye, perch, catfish, trout, and bass through our rivers, streams, and lakes. The Missouri and Smith Rivers are internationally known as blue-ribbon trout streams, featuring a mix of rainbow, cutthroat, brook, brown trout, and whitefish. Beyond the rivers, a variety of scenery, along with a variety of fish, awaits you at Holter Lake, Tiber Reservoir, Lake Frances, Pishkun Reservoir, Freezeout Lake, Willow Creek Reservoir, Nilan Reservoir, and Gibson Reservoir. The Missouri River, and its tributaries, Marias and Sun, supports sturgeon, sheepshead, goldeye, burto, sauger, walleye, pike, catfish, and roughfish. Local outfitters can provide you with a great fishing experience or you can do it yourself, following the regulations set by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.

Ice Fishing

In Great Falls, we are passionate about outdoor adventures, and we use any excuse to get out on the water, regardless of the weather. Be adventurous, bundle up, get outside, and try ice fishing on frozen sections of The Missouri River, and along Holter Lake, Tiber Reservoir, Lake Frances, Pishkun Reservoir, Freezeout Lake, Willow Creek Reservoir, Nilan Reservoir, and Gibson Reservoir. Ice fishing is an amazing winter adventure and best of all, the crowds are small, so you can enjoy breathtaking scenery in peace. Local outfitters can provide you with a great ice fishing experience or you can do it yourself, following the regulations set by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.

Kayak

Great Falls Montana provides kayak enthusiasts and beginners an opportunity to experience a great outdoor adventure on the Missouri and Sun Rivers. Winding through the Electric City, the Missouri River is an ideal location to drop a kayak in the water, soak up the sun, and relax under the Big Sky. For a more extensive trip, the Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River offer an incredible journey into an unspoiled land. With access points along the Sun and quick access to the Missouri from Broadwater Bay, Oddfellows Park, and West Bank Park, you can use your own equipment to explore or rent!

Paddleboard

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) has become a popular summer activity. With the Missouri River running through the heart of the city, there are several access points that make it easy to enjoy a SUP adventure on a gorgeous summer day. Broadwater BayOddfellows ParkWest Bank Park and Wadsworth Park has access points to get your SUP fix. If you don’t have your own equipment, rentals are available to help you explore the great outdoors in Great Falls.

rainbow

 

The 5 Falls

In 1804, The Corps of Discovery set out to explore the land gained through the Louisiana Purchase. The expedition arrived in present day Montana on April 27, 1805 and spent the most time in Great Falls thanks to the 5 falls they encountered. Today, you can visit these falls to appreciate the splendor, beauty, and rugged terrain the Corps of Discovery experienced.

The Great Falls
The best view of The Great Falls is from the highest peak at Ryan Island Park, accessible from a suspension bridge across the Missouri River. This is after traveling a two-lane road that provides views of the expansive high plains and agricultural land. There are few hints along the way of the canyon of the river at the end of the road. The roar of the falls is best witnessed in the Spring, just as Captain Lewis experienced. The canyon walls show the arduous task of portaging around the Falls that laid ahead of the Expedition. Although Ryan Dam, constructed in 1915, controls the flow of the water over the falls, the enormity of The Great Falls is still impressive.

Crooked Falls
Upstream 7 miles [11 km] from the Great Falls, Crooked Falls flows over an irregular shelf, 19 feet [6 meters] high and 300 yards [274 meters] across. Untouched by a dam, and inaccessible by vehicle, Crooked Falls can be witnessed today just as the Expedition saw it in 1805.

Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls’ cascade of about 50 feet perpendicular was untouched when the dam was constructed in 1910.

Colter Falls
A half mile [.8 km] upstream from Rainbow Falls, the smaller, 6 foot [2 meters] Colter Falls could be found. Set behind Rainbow Dam, these falls are now submerged.

Black Eagle Falls
Nearest to Great Falls’ city limits, Black Eagle Falls are 2.5 miles [4 km] above Rainbow Falls. At 26 feet [8 meters] high and 600 yards [549 meters], these falls were the first to be dammed in 1890. From the top of these falls, the confluence of the Missouri River with the Sun River is visible and from the bottom, Black Eagle Memorial Island Park gives you the closest breathtaking vantage possible.

Morony Dam
The town site of Morony still stands and offers a glimpse into where present-day Great Falls almost was. Below Morony Dam is great fishing and a natural spring, Sulphur Springs, accessible by foot or bicycle on the River’s Edge Trail.

Cochrane Dam
Cochrane is the newest dam, constructed in 1958, between The Great Falls and Crooked Falls and is only seen along the River’s Edge Trail while walking or biking.

Electric City Water Park | 100 River Drive S | 406-771-1265

Open seasonally when the weather gets warmer, the Electric City Water Park provides the opportunity to cool off with the only 3-in-a-row Flow Rider in Montana, the Lazy River, Power Tower slides 20 feet above the park, and the state’s largest children’s water play structure. The Electric City Water Park is set inside a beautiful park complex with trees, grass, plenty of shade, and concessions.

Smith River State Park | 1005 Smith River Rd | 406-454-5840

Located in the Lewis and Clark National Forest and a scenic drive from Great Falls, Smith River State Park offers gorgeous scenery in a remote setting. Renowned trout fishing is just one of the recreational opportunities available. The coveted permit-only float trip on the 59-mile Smith River an unforgettable experience. The permit process provides for a quality, multi-day float in relative solitude. Prepare your camera for memorable landscapes at the Smith, regardless of a permit! Outfitter packages are available through select providers. If you wish to hire the services of an outfitter, do not apply for a private permit in the drawing, since each outfitter is allocated a specific number of launches for specific days of the week and month.

Roe River | Giant Springs State Park, 4803 Giant Springs Road | 406-727-1212

Running between Giant Springs and the Missouri River, the Roe River has the distinction of being the world’s shortest. At just 201 feet long and 8 feet deep, the Roe River’s source is Giant Springs, the largest freshwater spring in America. Today, you can enjoy the breath-taking scenery of the Roe River at Giant Springs State Park. The crystal-clear water provides a view of the natural plant life that thrives in the water.

White Cliffs of the Wild and Scenic Missouri River

Downstream from Great Falls, the river runs through a rugged series of canyons and badlands known as the Missouri Breaks. This part of the river flows through the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument, a 375,000-acre preserve comprising steep cliffs, deep gorges, arid plains, badlands, archaeological sites, and whitewater rapids on the Missouri. The Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River is comprised of three contiguous segments and can be used to float and fish. Float one or all segments on your own, or outfitters are available to assist.

Segment 1 is a 42 mile [70 km] stretch from Fort Benton to Coal Banks Landing. Entrenched in a milewide, steep-walled valley composed of black-colored Marias River Shale, the river has a meandering habit, with bottomlands and islands, many covered with lush groves of cottonwoods. This segment of the river is largely bounded by private land, so off-river hiking opportunities are limited.

Segment 2 is a 46 mile [75 km] stretch from Coal Banks Landing to Judith Landing. Stephen Ambrose described the White Cliffs as “one of the most beautiful places on Earth.” Along this stretch, floaters pass three Lewis and Clark campsites, Indian habitation sites, and several still-standing homestead buildings dating to the 1900s.

Segment 3 is a 61 mile [100 km] stretch from Judith Landing to Kipp Recreation Area. Occupying a 1,000-foot-deep [305-meter-deep] canyon, this rugged stretch of the river is the wildest and the least traveled, making it a personal favorite of many. Excellent opportunities to view herds of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep exist, and elk are sometimes seen.