By Maria Wyllie
Explore Big Sky Associate Editor

BIG SKY – The Gallatin River is no idle force.

Wavering water levels bring new challenges and thrills with every downstream venture. Having already taken three trips this summer with local rafting company Geyser Whitewater, I can affirm that each trip is different.

Weather, water levels, guides and fellow rafters are all variables affecting one’s experience.

Early season means higher water, which means larger waves. As levels drop later in the summer, owner Eric Becker says it becomes more of a free-flowing rocky mountain style rafting with fun, technical navigation.

Always changing, the Gallatin offers new excitement for even the most seasoned guide.
Similar to skiing, guides choose different lines down the river, depending on whether they want more of a wet, bumpy trip or a smooth, dry ride.

But don’t expect to stay too dry if you’re floating down the river’s lower section. “The Mad Mile” – a mile long stretch of quick turns and nose dives through 3-foot waves, featuring notable high-water rapids like House Rock and Gagoosh – will test your strength and balance as you strategically wedge your feet beneath interior raft pillars and lean over the side to paddle in sync with your crew through the class 3 and 4 rapids.

Roadside honks, riverside homes and vistas featured in Robert Redford’s classic fly-fishing film “A River Runs Through It” welcome floaters as they exit the mile, taking in the scenery and perhaps listening to one or two more of their guide’s tall tales before heading home.

For more information on how to get your whitewater fix though Geyser Whitewater, visit raftmontana.com.