The rivers in Montana are busy this time of year and the are getting more and more busy as we head into the hottest time of the year. Floating the rivers cools you off, and if you are safe it can be a fun and memorable time for all. Montana's Fish Wildlife and Parks has some reminders about being safe on the water this Summer. There are a lot of different devices to float down Montana rivers and what you use to safely enjoy the Montana rivers says a lot about you. Keep in mind the University of Montana has free shuttles for river floaters.

Flat Bottom Boat-  Flat bottom boats are one of the more expensive ways to float down the river and you will need a trailer to haul it with. When you see one of these on the rivers, you know there is at least one fishing pole with it. They take their fishing seriously and try to avoid a lot of the places that will be packed with "tubers" so they can land the big one. These are usually on the river long before the floaters get out there.

Raft-  Rafts are another expensive way to float down the river. Rafts aren't cheap and most of the time they need to have a trailer to haul them too. You may see a fishing pole on a raft, but it isn't required. They can carry a bunch of people. Seeing a raft in the height of floating where the tubes usually are, means a floating party and maybe they'll try to fit in some fishing when tubers aren't close.

Kayaks- Kayaks are more prevalent on the rivers these days with the introduction of the inflatable kayak. This type of watercraft is for people who want to get a work out and don't want to stand up while going down the river. It is also for people who want to have some control over how fast they get down the river. With paddles, you can take it easy, or you can go faster than most to get down the river.

Paddleboard- The stand up paddleboard, takes some skill on a river especially going through rapids. They aren't cheap either. Most people I see on a paddleboard are in better shape than I am. They also have much better balance than I do these days. Almost everyone I see on a paddleboard looks way more athletic than I do.

Multiple Inflatable- These are the inflatables that can fit multiple people. The latest editions of them also contain "coolers" in them. They make them big enough to fit 6 people. They are much cheaper than rafts and you don't need a trailer to haul them. These are for families or for parties on the water. The downside to these things is they aren't easily controlled. Even if you have a paddle, a lot of the time you are at the mercy of the currents.

Double Inflatable- These are for couples in love. Ok, maybe not, but you can fit two people on them comfortably and in a pinch you can fit a third smaller person on them. They also can include a "cooler" in them, if you get one of the more pricey ones. This is another craft that doesn't have much control unless you buy a separate paddle. These are for people who want to have a chat while floating down the river. You also have to work as a team if you are trying to control where you are going. I have seen more than once two people both paddling in opposite directions going nowhere.

Fancy Inflatable-  Fancy inflatables have back rests on them, can holders, ropes to tie other inflatables together. This is for the people who want the freedom to float on their own, but also the flexibility to get together with others if they want. Unless you get a paddle with them, you have to use your arms to control them and you can get a workout on the ab muscles after a couple hours on the river.

Inner Tube-  Inner tubes are for people who just want to get on the river as soon as possible and for cheap. Inner tubes have no frills or additions. If you don't keep them wet, the black rubber heats up in the sun and can burn you. You also have to keep track of the valve that sticks out, those things can scratch you or rip your swimsuit.

Have Fun and Be Safe Montana

Whatever means you have to float the rivers this year, be safe, have fun and don't forget to hydrate.

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