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Rafting and fishing guides near Glacier are finding alternatives amid flooding

Heavy rain and high flows on the Flathead River are putting a damper on the early summer season for rafting and fishing guides near Glacier National Park. Some business owners are finding alternatives.

Outside of Great Northern Rafting in West Glacier, gray skies were hanging over Glacier National Park Wednesday afternoon. Raft coordinator and guide Sarah Scott says the recent atmospheric river that has sent parts of the Flathead River into flood stage has reduced business. She has still been able to get clients out on some stretches of the river.

“We went and did Paola to Cascadia because our whitewater, which is Moccasin Creek to West Glacier, was definitely a little too risky to be out there.”

Next door at Wild River Adventures, owner Lexi Woods tells the same story. Some trips are being canceled, while others are salvaged. The silver lining, she says, is the additional snow recent storms delivered in the high country, which could maintain adequate river flows later in the summer.

“We’ll definitely be extending our shoulder season, come September, October.”

Other businesses like Bigfork Anglers are having a harder time utilizing the high flowing Flathead River. However, owner Justin Lanier says he has found refuge guiding on lakes.

“Again, here in the Flathead Valley, it’s a lot of tourists and first-time anglers, so they don’t really have any preference on where they go, if they go sit on a mountain lake and catch some fish vs. the river.”

Lanier says some rivers like the Blackfoot and Missouri have remained fishable. With sunshine and warmer temperatures in the forecast, he hopes tourists will soon be casting their lines in the Flathead River as well.