Clark Fork Alberton Gorge
(Cyr Bridge to Tarkio Fishing Access) 12 miles
Season and Flow: Year around. Flow range: 1,000 to 20,000 cfs
Flow Gauge: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?12354500
Description: A very scenic river full of purple cliffs, river shelfs and large boulders; the Clark Fork holds enough water so that dragging bottom is never an issue. At high flow, this river has very powerful water with several Class IV rapids. At lower levels, these rapids have more rocks requiring more navigation to avoid a pin and still worthy of Class III+ ratings. The first third of the river starts with several straight forward Class II rapids. After a gap in the action to grab a drink, you will navigate several very scenic Class III rapids: the Ledge, Cliffside I and Cliffside II all run from river right moving left to avoid rocks. The next third of the river is raucous and begins with a crossing under the Three Bridges (I-90, railroad, frontage). You will be met with the big waves of Triple Bridge rapid (Class III) under the final bridge. A short gap follows before Split Rock also a Class III, which is immediately followed by Tumbleweed a Class IV which is at a pinch in the river making for very quick water. Run it from the river left. Surfer Joe follows (Class II) then is immediately followed by Boat Flipper, a Class III at high flow and Boat Eater, a Class III. Immediately get comfortable for the large converging waves of Fang, a Class IV. Fang is run from right back to the left with a wary eye for large flip-worthy waves that come from both sides. Thanksgiving rapid a Class II remains before a long and calm float past very pretty scenery and a well-deserved beverage for the boat skipper!
Drive Time from Great Falls: 3.25 hours
Directions: From Great Falls take I-15 north for 2.4 miles to Vaughn/Highway 200 exit. Take Montana 200 west for 140 miles to Bonner, Montana. Continue straight to I-90 west. Travel I-90 West for 40 miles to Cyr Exit 70. Continue straight after exit and cross the river on the frontage road bridge. Turn left and look for put in on left. This put in has a ridiculously long boat slide that is very well built. To get to the take out, take Fish Creek Road west for 2.7 miles to I-90 west. Travel five miles to Exit 61 toward Tarkio. Go left off exit, across I-90. Turn left onto River Gorge Road, follow that as it snakes down to a boat ramp.