Fly Fishing
River Trips

Montana's Boulder River

Snowfields nearing 11,000' in elevation near Independence, Monument, and Sheepherder Peaks give birth to the Boulder River just north of Yellowstone Park in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. As the river plunges to the north, icy tributaries from the Lake Plateau and East and West Boulder Plateaus feed the mainstem. Near the tiny ranching community of McLeod, the West Boulder River converges with the main Boulder. Here we begin our Boulder River Overnight Fly Fishing Trips with riverside camps that unveil soul-stirring views of the snow-bound Absaroka Range to the south and the jagged Crazy Mountains to the north. You may also continue down the Yellowstone River for an extended multi-river camping experience. 

The Boulder River tumbles from its headwaters through a deep, forested canyon in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest, flowing for about 60 miles to its confluence with the Yellowstone River at Big Timber, Montana. As it departs its mountain reaches, the river cascades over Natural Bridge Falls. Here the river disappears in an underground tunnel and ejects from a limestone cliff as a waterfall before flowing underground again for a short distance.  Although the Natural Bridge collapsed in 1988, fossilized seashells can be found in the sedimentary rocks. Below the bridge, the river calmly twists through cottonwoods and hay meadows before picking up the East Boulder. Shortly after, it gains momentum on its tumultuous white-water passage to the Yellowstone.

The river below McLeod is aptly named for its innumerable lichen-covered granite boulders, creating miles of multi-colored pocket-water and deep beryl-hued aquarium holes. This gorgeous mid-sized freestone river is one of our favorites, as Class II and III rapids pierce through verdant alfalfa and hay meadows cultivated by occasional rustic ranches. Cliff and Violet-green Swallows dart about feeding on aquatic insects before returning to their colonies along volcanic sandstone cliffs that rise from the river's edge intermittently. Steep, rocky banks lined with cottonwoods and lush vegetation are home to Cedar Waxwings, warblers, finches, and kingbirds. Silky, chocolate-colored minks romp along the river's shores while Bald Eagles and Osprey peer into the wavering currents. Dry fly enthusiasts and non-anglers will enjoy the exciting raft ride through one of Montana's most scenic and secluded valleys. 
There's something about the sound of rushing water, the sight of multi-colored rocks wavering under clear, swift currents, and the thrill of an acrobatic rainbow engulfing your dry fly!  Rapidly fire casts with your dry fly and dry-dropper combinations to structured banks and bouldered pocket-water as you descend Class II and III white-water rapids.  The excitement heats up as you hook a nice brown in the middle of one of these drops.  Hatches of PMDs, caddis, yellow sallies, golden stones, and Green Drakes lure the trout to feed on the surface.  Exciting visual takes in the clear water will elevate your heart rate.  This fabulous action-packed freestone river is one of our favorite summertime fisheries! 

The river above the East Fork lazily winds through hay meadows fed by cold springs.  The river's calm currents require drag-free drifts with attractor dries, terrestrials, or a well-presented PMD cripple. Riffles lead into deep aqua pools and runs where rainbows, browns, and an occasional cutthroat lurk, averaging 12" to 16" with browns sometimes approaching 20".

From the West Boulder downstream for about 10 miles, the river is defined by lengthy stretches of rock gardens interspersed with white-water plunges and darkly colored holes. Dry fly connoisseurs revel the sight of a brassy rainbow rising to bushy attractors. Plentiful rainbows and browns averaging 10" to 15" with occasional 16" to 18" fish landed. During peak season, experienced swift-water anglers can hook dozens of these wild trout.  

Further downstream, the river's gradient eases ever so slightly, and while pocket-water is copious, boulders aren't quite as prevalent as above. Here, hardy brown and rainbow trout swim under shaded banks of twisted vines and deciduous branches, in swirling currents behind mid-river boulders, in shallow riffles, and deep greeny holes. Jewel-colored browns with vibrant lemon flanks sprinkled with brilliant crimson and deep black spots rise to an evening caddis hatch. These gorgeous, dry fly eating trout average 10" to 15", but as the river braids towards its final approach to the Yellowstone, larger trout are often caught. 

Required Licenses & Fees
Montana Fishing License - https://fwp.mt.gov/buyandapply/fishinglicenses
Not a fisherman? Not a worry! The surrounding natural splendor captivates non-anglers. Sit back, relax, and read a book as you bask in the sun or around the campfire. Photographers will find infinite opportunities shooting stunning scenery, curious wildlife, vibrant wildflowers, and endless subjects illuminated by the morning and evening light. Hike to the top of a riverside bluff to view a panoramic landscape, hunt for arrowheads, or check out ancient teepee rings, remnants of indigenous peoples. Rockhounds can search gravel bars for agates, petrified wood, and intricately patterned rocks of countless colors and shades. Bird watchers relish the riparian habitat replete with Western Meadowlarks, Red-winged Blackbirds, Western Tanagers, Eastern Kingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, warblers, finches, and countless other species. Experienced paddlers can float along in their kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard. You may observe and enjoy more than your fellow fishing companions!
Trip Expectations
We will meet the night before or the morning of your trip to discuss trip logistics and make final preparations. Supplies will be organized and packed onto gear rafts the morning of your trip. Then, while you spend the day fishing and sightseeing, our camp crew rows all gear downstream and assembles camp.  

After a full day of fishing, arrive at camp, settle into your pitched tent, relax and refresh. Our deluxe river camps feature comfortable high-back chairs, spacious tents tall enough to stand up in with two guests per tent, cots, and inflatable mattresses. Extend your day of fishing by wading near camp, or simply enjoy your favorite beverage and delicious appetizers as you unwind around the campfire. Take a dip in the river or enjoy a hot shower in our private shower tent.  Private restroom tents are provided along with a hand-washing station and tarps or a wall tent for shade and shelter from any possible storms.   

Enjoy freshly prepared gourmet meals such as wild king salmon with asparagus and long grain rice or steaks grilled over the fire with baby potatoes and a spring salad mix. After dinner, you'll share stories over cocktails around the fire before retiring to your cozy tent accommodations for the night. You will be amazed by the clarity of the night sky, countless stars, and the brilliance of the Milky Way. 

Wake up in the morning and enjoy a cup of cowboy coffee as you watch the sunrise over the horizon. Then, savor a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, and pancakes, a breakfast scramble, or healthy wild smoked sockeye salmon lox on a bagel.  After breakfast, we'll pack camp up, and you begin another full day of fishing, fun, and adventure. As part of the experience, many guests enjoy helping pack up camp in the morning or helping set up if arriving in camp early. Our crew will move camp downstream each day for the entirety of your trip.
Camp Meals & Beverages
We are happy to customize your menu in advance of your trip. Should anyone in your party require gluten-free or vegetarian meals, or if anyone has any food allergies, please let us know well in advance to plan accordingly. Coffee, tea, and non-alcoholic beverages are provided. You are welcome to bring any special beverages, wine, beer, and spirits with you. 
We do not own a liquor or beer and wine license; therefore, we can't legally provide alcohol for our clients. However, you may purchase and bring alcohol on the trip with you. Spirits such as bourbon, whiskey, gin, rum, tequila, and vodka, as well as wine, can be taken on your trip. Glass bottles are okay; however, it's preferable to transfer your wine and spirits into lighter, non-breakable containers. Many guests bring boxed wine or transfer wine and spirits into flasks or plastic liquor pouches. You can also take beer; however, we have limited space on rafts, so please limit your beer quantity, and please only bring aluminum cans, no glass beer bottles. Keep your alcohol separate from your camp duffel so we can pack it securely, especially any glass bottles.

Day Time Lunch, Snacks & Beverages
Each guide boat is equipped with a cooler, lunch, snacks, beverages, and drinking water. Feel free to bring your favorite snacks, beverages, and a water bottle, which can be stored in the boat cooler.  If you have more than a few drinks, please check with your guide about available cooler space, and be prepared to provide a small beverage cooler with ice, if needed. 

Bear Etiquette
Grizzly bears are common in and around Yellowstone. Although grizzlies are rare along the Yellowstone River outside the park, their presence is possible, especially on the upper river closer to Yellowstone. Black bears can be seen along the entirety of the Yellowstone River. The chances of a bear encounter are low; however, it is possible, and bears should be respected.  We take all necessary precautions to minimize bear encounters and to reduce the chances of them entering camp. Each person's actions play an essential role in keeping a bear-safe camp, and we approach this seriously. Guests must keep camp clean by disposing of trash and food items in the fire or provided containers and storing any food, snacks, beverages, and odorous items in provided bear-proof containers at night.  Do not store any of these items, including deodorant and toothpaste, in your tent at night. It is highly recommended that you carry bear spray with you at all times when out of the raft and in camp. We cannot guarantee your safety.
For more information on bear safety and etiquette, visit: 
Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee -  http://igbconline.org/bear-safety/
Cell Service & Internet
Due to the remoteness of most of our Overnight River Trip destinations combined with a mountainous topography, cell reception is spotty at best and, in most cases, not available. Additionally, wireless internet connectivity is not available. Therefore, be sure to notify people of your unavailability and take care of all personal and business tasks beforehand. 
What's Included
  • Guides - 2 Anglers/Guide
  • Personal Instruction
  • Camp Crew & Cooks
  • All Meals, Snacks & Appetizers
  • Non-Alcoholic Beverages
  • All Cooking & Camp Essentials
  • Dinnerware, Pint Glasses, Mugs
  • Camp Chairs
  • Sleeping Tents with Lanterns
  • Sleeping Pads – If Needed
  • Cots 
  • Waterproof Dry Bags for Sleeping Bags & Pads
  • Waterproof Dry Bags for your Camp Gear, Clothing & Personal Items, if needed.
  • Private Restroom and Shower Tents
  • Handwashing Station, Paper Towels, Toilet Paper
  • Sheltered Tarps or Wall Tent for Core Camp
  • Transportation To and From the Trip Destination from Local Accommodations 
  • Shuttle Fees (Excluding personal or rental vehicles)
  • Flies & Terminal Tackle
  • Rods & Reels – If Needed
  • Life Jackets
  • First Aid Kits

Not Included
  • Fishing Licenses
  • Gratuities – Fishing Guides & Camp Staff
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Bear Spray
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Personal Vehicle Shuttle Fees
  • Rental Waders & Boots - If Needed
  • Personal Items – See our Overnight River Trip Gear List
  • Park Entrance Fees – If Applicable
Recommended Airports
Once you have confirmed your trip with us, you'll want to make flight reservations as soon as possible. We recommend that you fly into Bozeman, Montana (BZN), the day before your trip begins.  You may also fly into Billings Logan International Airport (BIL). Schedule flights that arrive in the afternoon, if possible.  
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (https://bozemanairport.com) is served by Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, and United Airlines, plus a few smaller carriers.  
Billings Logan International Airport (https://www.flybillings.com) is served by Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, and United Airlines, plus a few smaller carriers.  

Ground Transportation
Having your own transportation allows more flexibility before and after your trip. Major car rental companies are available at your arrival airport. Once in Montana, you can purchase alcohol and mixers, bear spray (airlines do not allow bear spray onboard), and any other items you may need for your trip, including your Montana fishing license. You will then drive to your evening accommodations, have dinner and make last-minute preparations. 
Drive times to and from Livingston, Montana
Bozeman - 40 minutes
Billings – 1 hour, 45 minutes
If schedules allow, we may be able to provide transportation for you from Bozeman.

River Shuttles
If you drive and would like your vehicle or rental car to be at the take-out location, it is your responsibility to pay for the shuttle service. Shuttle fees vary depending on locations and distances, and we will assist you with arranging a shuttle.   Alternately, we may be able to make arrangements to leave your vehicle in Livingston or another location, and you will ride with your guides. Shuttle fees for guide and gear vehicles are included. 

On arrival night, we recommend staying in accommodations in Bozeman, Livingston, or another location, depending on where your trip begins.  

Departure Details
On the final day of your trip, we will be off the river in the afternoon. Please make departing airline reservations for the following day. Guests are responsible for booking and paying for accommodations on their outgoing night after getting off the water. If you do not have a rental car, we recommend booking accommodations with airport shuttle services. Rideshares such as Uber and taxis are available for dinner, getting around town, or to the airport, if needed.  
Numbers of Guests      2 Days                  3 Days                   4 Days                  5 Days                   6 Days                  7 Days              
4 or More                       $1,495/person     $2,195/person     $2,895/person     $3,595/person     $4,295/person     $4,995/person     
2 Guests Only                $1,995/person     $2,995/person     $3,995/person     $4,995/person     $5,995/person     $6,995/person     
Rates based on 2 anglers/boat, double occupancy. 
For additional days, 4 anglers or more add $695/day, 2 anglers add $995/day. 
For odd numbers, 3, 5, 7, etc. - add $300/day/single angler supplement.
Guests are responsible for their first and last night's accommodations and meals.   

Riverside Lodging

At any point during your trip, you may choose to stay at riverside accommodations such as a high-end lodge, vacation rental, bed, and breakfast, or luxury cabins. Begin or end your overnight float by staying at these accommodations, or stop at any point during your overnight trip for a hot shower and break from camping. 
*Rates may vary depending on specific accommodations. Riverside lodging prices are in addition to Overnight River Trip rates. Please call or email us for specifics; we will work with you to customize the perfect Overnight River Trip.


Arrival Night Camping on River - add $495/person. 
If arriving early, you may choose to camp on the river on arrival night rather than staying in local accommodations.  You may do some afternoon and evening fishing and may also float a short distance to camp.


Payment Options
Your non-refundable 50% deposit is required to finalize your reservation and is due within 10 days of booking your trip. We will invoice you by email, and upon receiving your invoice, you can choose to pay using the online ACH payment option. This option is a quick and convenient way to pay your trip deposit and finalize your reservation. 

Payment reminders will be sent by email for open invoices with remaining balances due, which can be paid using the ACH option. 

Additionally, deposits and final payments can be paid with bank wire transfers, credit cards, or mailing checks payable to Greater Yellowstone Flyfishing Outfitters. A 3% convenience fee is assessed for all credit card transactions. Please contact us if you prefer cash or other payment forms. 

Greater Yellowstone Flyfishing Outfitters Payment Options
·      ACH Online Payments – U.S. financial institutions and bank accounts only
·      Personal & Business Checks* - U.S. financial institutions and bank accounts only
·      Electronic Wire Payments - wiring fees are the responsibility of the client
·      Credit Cards – 3% Convenience Fee applied
·      Cash
·      International Payments can be made via wire or with a credit card.
*Client will be billed all associated costs for returned checks.  The client will have 7 days to reimburse Greater Yellowstone Flyfishing Outfitters for returned check costs and provide an alternative form of payment; otherwise, trip reservations will be cancelled, and all deposits and payments will be forfeited.  
Our guides and camp staff work very hard to ensure an enjoyable trip, and we encourage you to tip accordingly. As a general rule, gratuities range from $100-$200/day/guide and camp staff, although an excellent day of fishing, a memorable event, or extra effort on behalf of your guide or camp crew may deserve more. Please consider that your guides and camp crew work harder during adverse weather or when fishing is slow. 

Cash gratuities can be given directly to the trip leader at the end of your trip and are distributed evenly among the guides and camp staff.  Should you wish to give a specific guide or camp staff a bonus gratuity for something special, you can give it to that person directly or to the trip leader with specific instructions. Alternately, you may present each guide and camp staff gratuities directly, rather than pooling them, extending your gratitude upon departure.   

Overnight River Trips require a great deal of planning, logistics, and hard work. Your camp crew works tirelessly from sunrise to after dark. Setting up and taking down camp, packing rafts, rowing between camps, cooking, cleaning, and performing the necessary tasks is demanding yet essential for a successful and comfortable trip. Our crew performs numerous tasks behind the scenes; successfully executed, you'll never notice, including at least a day before and after each trip. 

Many variables beyond our control, such as weather, wind, barometric pressure, water temperatures, and fish behavior, influence the fishing and camping experience.  While fishing can be a highlight of the trip, there are numerous ways to enjoy your Overnight River Trip. Please align your expectations with the conditions and your abilities. No expectations, no disappointments!

If you have any concerns or are disappointed in your trip in any way, please let us know. 
Trip Insurance
We realize these trips are expensive, and much is at stake financially for our client(s), guides, and business. For this reason, we highly recommend that you purchase trip insurance in advance. Unforeseen circumstances arise, and travel insurance is very reasonable should you have to cancel your trip for any reason. We recommend Travel Guard Travel Insurance and Global Rescue Insurance to protect your financial investment, which may cover trip cancellations for any reason. For more information or to purchase trip insurance, visit https://mvp.travelguard.com/ or www.globalrescue.com

Medical Evacuation Insurance
We recommend Global Rescue's worldwide medical evacuation and extraction services if you become ill or injured during your trip or due to natural disaster, COVID-19, and other reasons. Due to the remote nature of many of our trips, potential challenges receiving immediate professional medical help, and limited cell coverage, we highly recommend purchasing medical evacuation insurance along with your trip insurance. We generally carry satellite communicators on our overnight trips; however, reception is not always possible.
The Sphinx, Madison Range


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