Fly Fishing
River Trips

Montana's Dearborn River

The Dearborn River flows from the Continental Divide east from the Scapegoat Wilderness 67 miles to the Missouri River north of Craig, Montana. The upper mountainous portion of the river tumultuously descends through rapids, pocket-water, and pools holding smaller rainbows and westslope cutthroats. Then, emerging from the Rocky Mountain Front, the river carves its path through a dynamic blend of rolling prairie foothills and breaks, semi-wilderness, coniferous forests, and one of Montana's most spectacular canyons. Our Dearborn River Overnight Fly Fishing Trips range from two to four days, with up to 45 miles of floatable river, with an extended version continuing down the Missouri River. 
The upper 26 miles descends through a shallow picturesque canyon and undulating rangeland with high bluffs lined with conifers. The surrounding uplands and accompanying breaks were once buffalo hunting grounds for the Blackfeet Indians; today, you may see whitetail and mule deer, antelope, red foxes, coyotes, badgers, and perhaps a herd of elk. Ten miles into the float, the river plummets over Dearborn Falls, a mandatory portage that adds to this trip's adventure.  Beautiful vistas of the Rocky Mountain Front and Scapegoat Wilderness are accompanied by quiet solitude among the surrounding highlands.

As the Dearborn River makes its final journey to the Missouri, it slices through volcanic rock, creating a stunning canyon unlike any other in Montana. The canyon is blanketed with Douglas firs and lined with willows, cottonwoods, and grassy banks. The Dearborn serpentines past sheer cliffs of purple-brown volcanic shonkinite, drifting past rock gardens and drops over several Class III rapids. Raptors sail overhead, their calls echoing off canyon walls, marmots chirp amongst rock slides, an occasional moose browses streamside vegetation, and a rare family of otters plays in the river's glossy currents. You'll camp deep in the heart of this rugged canyon among the firs as you stare in wonder at the magnitude of the vertical environment as you sip bourbon around a flickering riverside campfire. You'll drift asleep in your tent to the sound of rushing rapids as you reflect on the day's adventure and dream of what's lies ahead downstream. 
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The upper half of the Dearborn glides over long runs punctuated with riffles and occasional shelf-rock holes. Rainbows, cutthroats, and cutbows averaging 10" – 14" are fewer here, but the scenery and solitude enhance the experience. Downstream in the canyon, sharp turns thrust the river's current against undercut cliff walls, into abyss pools of emerald hues, and over bright multi-colored rocks. Giant salmonflies hatch in late May to early June, followed by golden stones, PMDs, green drakes, caddis, and yellow sallies. 

In the canyon, anglers may catch 10 to 20 rainbow and brown trout on a good day, averaging 10"-15". Attractor dries with droppered bead heads and rubber legs drifted along cliff walls, high-sticked in the numerous boulder pockets, recirculated in foam back-eddies, and over riffle drops, provide exciting visual takes. In addition, streamers fished deep in pools and under overhanging cliff walls may entice one of the river's trophy browns. Chances to land several 16" – 19" rainbows and browns occur each day, and, if you're lucky, a brown exceeding 20" will gulp your dry fly from a foamy rock face.

At the bottom of the canyon, you'll float past Sugarloaf Mountain before spilling into the Missouri River.  Your trip concludes a couple of miles downstream at Mid Canon unless you elect to continue down the Missouri for another day or two. Those wishing to extend their trip will trade solitude for the more numerous and consistently larger wild trout found on the Missouri. The lower section of the Missouri provides technical dry fly fishing and nymphing for browns and rainbows averaging 15"-18" with opportunities each day for several trout over 20".  

Required Licenses & Fees
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 expanding their territory along the Rocky Mountain Front and wandering into areas previously not occupied since eradicated by early settlers. Although grizzlies are rare along the Dearborn, their presence is possible. Black bears are more commonly found along the Dearborn. 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. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee your safety.
For more information on bear safety and etiquette, visit: 
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. 
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 Helena, Montana (HLN), the day before your trip begins.  You may also fly into Bozeman, Montana (BZN), or Great Falls, Montana (GTF). Schedule flights that arrive in the afternoon, if possible.
Served by Alaska, Delta, and United Airlines.
Served by Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines, plus a few smaller carriers. 
Served by Alaska, Allegiant, Delta, and United Airlines.

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 Wolf Creek/Craig
Helena                        40 Minutes
Great Falls                 1 Hour
Bozeman                    2 Hours
If schedules allow, we may be able to provide transportation for you from Helena or 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 are approximately $100/vehicle, and we will assist you with arranging a shuttle. Alternately, we may be able to make arrangements to leave your vehicle in Wolf Creek, Craig, 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 a hotel or other accommodations in or near Wolf Creek or Craig, Montana. If accommodations are not available in these towns, other nearby locations, such as Helena, are good options. 

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/1 Night3 Days/2 Nights4 Days/3 Nights5 Days/4 Nights
4 or More$1,595/person$2,295/person$2,995/person$3,695/person
2 Guests Only$2,395/person$3,595/person$4,795/person$5,995/person
Rates based on 2 anglers/boat, double occupancy. 
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.   

Arrival Night Camping on River - add $300/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.  
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
Our guides and camp staff work very hard to ensure an enjoyable trip, and we encourage you to tip accordingly. We suggest an appropriate gratuity from  $150-$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!

Please let us know if you have any comments or concerns about your trip.
Trip Insurance
We realize these trips are expensive, and much is at stake financially. 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, please visit Travel Guard or Global Rescue.
To receive complete coverage options and benefits, be sure to purchase travel insurance within 15 days of paying your deposit.

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.
For more information or to purchase Medical Evacuation Insurance, please visit Global Rescue.
The Sphinx, Madison Range


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