Flathead River: Buffalo Bridge To Sloan Bridge

Activity Details

From Missoula: 75.6 miles

Activity Type(s): Overnight/Multiday Floats

Difficulty: Easy


The Main Flathead River from Buffalo Bridge to Sloan Bridge is a great overnight canoe (or raft) stretch that has beautiful blue water that is usually warm, great camping, and fast-moving flat water. With such large volume, you hardly even need to paddle on this stretch to make progress.

The views of the Mission Mountains from this stretch of the Flathead are stunning. There are also interesting badlands-type clay formations that are really neat and provide habitat for lots of birds. There is no significant whitewater at all on this stretch, just a couple mellow wave trains, so this is a good one for the family.  Also keep a keen eye out for rattlesnakes. You will need a tribal permit to float this section.


To get to the put-in, take Sloan Road back to Round Butte Road, turn right and go until you reach Valley View Road, then take a left. Follow Valley View Road all the way until it intersects with Buffalo Bridge Road. Take a left on Buffalo Bridge Road and follow the zig-zags down to the river at Buffalo Bridge. This is also the takeout for the Buffalo Rapids section, a super fun Class III big water stretch that is easily accessed from Polson. You can easily get to Buffalo Bridge from Polson as well – take Kerr Dam Road out of Polson until it becomes Valley View Road, then follow it to the intersection with Buffalo Bridge Road.

To reach the takeout, take Round Butte Road to the west out of Ronan off of Highway 93 until you reach the junction with Sloan Road. Take a left on Sloan Road until you reach the Sloan Bridge over the Flathead.