Blankenship Bridge Public Access Closed for High Water

Flathead National Forest officials ordered the public access closure until June 24

By Beacon Staff
Campers and rafters at Blankenship Bridge north of Columbia Falls on July 30, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Officials with the Flathead National Forest on Thursday closed the public access area south of Blankenship Bridge on the west side of the Middle Fork Flathead River due to high water hazards. The closure is in place until June 24.

The closure includes all National Forest System land on the right side of the river below and downstream of Blankenship Bridge, which is accessed by the non-forest system road south of the bridge.

“This restriction is for public health and safety due to the high-water level of the Flathead River,” according to the closure order.

The small gravel bar near the confluence of the North Fork and Middle Fork Flathead River south of Blankenship Bridge has emerged as a popular dispersed camping location in recent years, with reported river pollution, human and food waste, illegal campfires and firework use.

The current closure, in place as a public safety measure to protect recreational users from the high-water level during peak runoff, will remain in place until June 24 unless otherwise rescinded.