Vehicle Supported Montana Raft Trips

The Smith River is Montana’s flagship multi-day raft trip. However, the float is permitted and choice dates are becoming harder and harder to draw. A multi-day float trip is truly the best way to experience your favorite rivers, and there are a lot of options for Montana raft trips. Last year, we wrote about some options – read more about them here!

Raft trips don’t always have to be a wilderness excursion where you shove off and don’t see civilization again for a week. Sometimes it’s nice to be closer to the road, leave your camp stuff in the truck, and have your vehicle waiting for you each day. Here are a few options for vehicle supported Montana raft trips.


The Madison River is prime for a multi-day trip. While you won’t be alone on this Montana raft trip, it’s worth the trip for the fishing and the scenery. There are also plenty of access points and campgrounds along the river that allow you to customize your daily floats. If you want to focus more on fishing, plan shorter days that allow more time to get out and wade fish. Or float longer distances and cover more water.

The ease of access also makes this a very easy trip to support by vehicles. Move camp each day to the next site and leave all the camping gear in the trucks. A lot of raft trips require you to carry everything with you in the raft, but vehicle support keeps things uncluttered and efficient in the boat.

Spend as little as one night out there, or make it a big trip from Quake Lake to Three Forks. If you floated it all and fished it hard, you could easily stretch this trip into a week. We’re happy to help with logistical planning on how to make it happen!

Vehicle supported raft trip on the Madison River.


The Big Hole is another long river with easy access. The upper stretches from Wisdom to Divide make for a really awesome multi-day float. There are campgrounds and access points, as well as public land to camp on if you want a more wild experience (something the Madison lacks). This is Montana as it was, the land where Big Sky Country lives up to the name.

The Big Hole is famous for its population of fluvial Arctic Grayling, one of the last strongholds for the species in the state. The upper river holds more of these fish, and ups your odds for catching one considerably. They’re suckers for dry flies and are incredibly beautiful in hand. Treat them carefully, they’re a treasure.

Brook trout are also prevalent in this river, a rare treat for many who grew up with these fish. However they are considered invasive to the watershed and thus have a liberal limit for keeping them. If you’ve never cooked brook trout, you’re missing out.

The river continues south past Divide, and offers some great fishing and floating. There are plenty of options for Montana raft trips down there, but we prefer the upper river for the scenery and openness.


The Missouri is just like one big spring creek for much of its length from Holter Dam to Cascade. The water is clear, there isn’t much rough water, and trout abound. This thing is a fish factory. It draws die-hard anglers from around the world, and rightfully so.

Some of the best known and most prolific hatches in the state happen in this stretch of river. If you’re a dry fly purist, you need to go here. It’s also very conducive to other types of fishing. And, for our purposes, is ideal for a mutli-day Montana raft trip.

Sunrise in the Missouri River canyon below Craig.

Like the Madison, there are fishing access sites with campsites scattered down the river. The float from Dam to Cascade can be done in as little as two days, but taking more is a lot more fun. Stop to work pods of rising fish, swing by Craig for lunch, enjoy some time in camp. Like on the Madison, have your vehicles moved each day to the next campsite and enjoy the river.

The Missouri can get crowded in the summer months, but the crowds thin out below Craig. The canyon down to below Prewitt Creek is pretty stunning, be sure to pause from fishing long enough to look up and soak it all in. Public access along this waterway is a bit limited, but for fishermen looking for a great trip this one comes highly recommended.

There are so many more options for a longer raft trip in Montana than just the Smith River. Turn the phone off, put it away, and live on river time for a few days this summer. After everything settles down later this spring, we’ll all need some time outside.

Our rentals are ideal for vehicle-supported trips like this. Rent a vehicle and get a discount on your raft! Book your rental today. Our staff is always on hand to answer questions and help you plan your trip.


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