Float the Swan River

Lake County officials have tried addressing parking congestion and garbage at the site

By Dillon Tabish
Water drips from a paddle as kayakers float down the Swan River on May 28, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

One of the most popular stretches of water for leisurely floating, the Swan River is an idyllic source of cool respite during these hot summer days.

The calm 4-mile section of water near the mouth of Swan Lake frequently attracts flocks of inner tubers and other floaters for a peaceful hour-long ride.

The Swan River access site on Rainbow Drive in Ferndale is a good put-in spot for hand-launch boats and the most common take-out is near the Clay Cliffs across from a wide parking section off Montana Highway 83. There is also the Swan River Fishing Access Site nearby off south Ferndale Drive, which has more parking opportunities.

Lake County officials have tried addressing parking congestion and garbage at the site in recent years and have established a temporary restroom and designated spots for vehicles. Parking along Rainbow Drive is prohibited and vehicles will be towed, officials say. The site is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. State regulations require all boaters to have life jackets. Visitors are asked to pack out their own garbage.

Clarification: The Swan River Fishing Access Site is a separate access site from the Lake County river access site off Rainbow Drive. The fishing access site is on south Ferndale Drive. It is managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and has parking opportunities to access the Swan River.

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