I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that even though I grew up in the Missoula I didn't float the Clark Fork River until I was in my mid-30s.

I hadn't done it because my mom grew up on a ranch and she was very aware of the dangers of Montana waters and she wanted me to be safe. Spending time on that same ranch my grandma would lecture against "playin' in the ditch." With some years of wisdom, I can appreciate both my grandma and mom's caution. 

The warnings aren't misguided, though, because Montana waters can pose risks. Last summer, a wade fisherman drowned while fishing on the Blackfoot River. Animals can pose risks, too. Also last summer, an otter attacked three floaters on the Jefferson River and it made national news. 

Wader Saftey Clinic in Missoula

Missoula Fly Gals and WestSlope Chapter of Trout Unlimited are hosting an angler safety clinic next Wednesday, May 15 at Currents Aquatic Center from 6:30 7:30 pm. They aptly point out in the event description, "It's not a matter of if, but when," referencing the tendency to slip on wet rocks and fall while fishing. And falling into the water while dressed in fishing gear is different than if you're in a swimsuit, or regular clothes for that matter. For more information about the clinic visit this link

Water Safety in Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks also have resources about how to stay safe while boating in Montana.

  • Do you know how to fit a life jacket?
  • Did you know that swimming in water that's colder than 65 degrees (like the water in some high-mountain lakes and streams) can make it harder to swim and easier to drown?
  • It's also illegal to operate a boat or other watercraft while intoxicated.

Recreate safely in Montana and check out all of FWP's boating safety tips.

And if you love Montana's lakes see if you can identify these lakes by looking at Google Earth images.

See If You Can Identify These Montana Lakes Using Google Earth Images

From above, Montana's lakes may be less recognizable than you might think. Test your knowledge--see if you recognize these Montana lakes from Google Earth images.

Gallery Credit: Ashley

The 10 Highest Rated 'Hidden Gem' Attractions In Montana

Here's a list of the best hidden gem attractions in Montana!

Gallery Credit: jessejames

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