Top 5 River Tubing And Rafting Spots Near Bozeman, MT


Bozeman Montana is blessed to be surrounded by natural beauty and many opportunities for people to enjoy that beauty with outdoor recreational activities. In the warm summer months, few activities are as fun or as refreshing as river floats. Around Bozeman, there are plenty of great options for floating rivers, from the high adrenaline adventure of whitewater rafting to the relaxing experience of meeting up with friends to float on the river in innertubes. In this blog, we rank the top five river trip destinations near Bozeman, MT, based on their proximity to downtown and the type of float experience they offer (rafting vs tubing).

A group of rafters wash down the Yellowstone River in Montana

#5 Yellowstone River in Gardiner, MT

The Yellowstone River is a tributary of the Missouri River and runs a total length of approximately 692 miles so numerous river trip experiences are depending on where you launch. Gardiner, MT is located 78 miles southeast of Bozeman and offers several rafting adventures. The hour and a half drive from Bozeman is well worth it for those looking for excitement during their river trips. Gardiner offers many different guide services and rafting tours of the river. This location allows for both whitewater rafting– a more advanced experience that navigates class II and class III rapids– and wet or dry scenic float that avoids the difficult rapids but still allows you to splash through mild rapids.

Picture of the mighty Yellowstone River running through a canyon

#4 Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley, MT

Further up the Yellowstone River and closer to Bozeman is the popular rafting spot in Paradise Valley. Only 28 miles away, Paradise Valley is a short, 35 min drive east from downtown Bozeman and offers riders access to another segment of the popular Yellowstone River. Paradise Valley is still a rafting destination, however, the ride is more mild compared to those found in Gardiner. There are many local river rafting guide services that book scenic floats through minor whitewater and along calming stretches of river that offer breathtaking views of wildlife and natural scenery. This is a great destination for families with younger children who are ready for a little adventure but are not yet ready to take on more serious rapids.

Woman relaxes on a raft while floating on a river in Montana

#3 Jefferson River

The Jefferson River is formed by the confluence of the Beaverhead River and the Big Hole River near the town of Twin Bridges and flows for 82 miles into the Missouri River near Three Forks. Residents of Bozeman can access the Jefferson River from Three Forks and the Missouri Headwaters State Park only 30 miles west of downtown. The water of the Jefferson River is warmer and slower than a majority of other river tubing options. The slow-moving current makes this a perfect location for a relaxing tubing trip.

#2 Gallatin River

The Gallatin River starts at Gallatin Lake in Yellowstone National Park and flows 115 miles to the Missouri River. Access to the Gallatin River is easy since a majority of the land it flows through is public land. With entry points only 22 miles away from Bozeman, the Gallatin River is a great option for residents of Bozeman who want to experience one of the most relaxing Montana rafting trips available. The Gallatin River is classified as a class I-II river meaning it features easy rapids and few or no obstructions. It is the perfect river float for those who do not want big splashes or any whitewater. The Gallatin River was also featured in the movie A River Runs Through It, and offers amazing views of natural scenery and wildlife.

A woman is smiling as she floats on a river in a tube

#1 Madison River

Long-time residents of Bozeman are familiar with the Madison River. This local favorite is the premiere river tube float destination, located just 25 miles west of downtown you can find shuttle services right here in Bozeman. U.S. Highway 287 follows the river closely from Hebgen Lake past Norris and access to the Madison is excellent so it also makes for an easy trip to execute all on your own! Although parts of the river that flow through the Bear Trap Canyon feature some class IV-V whitewater rapids that should only be traversed by highly experienced riders, the main recreational stretch near Bozeman features calm water with plenty of space for all to float in the river.

Here For Your River Tubing Needs!

If you are looking for cool river tubing spots or the best rafting in Montana, Bozeman is a great place to experience a variety of floats for river-tubing. You’ll find many answers to the question “What are the best places to go river tubing near me?” Regardless of what you are looking for, whether it is to go rafting along thrilling rapids or relaxing river float tubing, it can be found only a short drive from downtown. Owenhouse Ace Hardware is proud to be Bozeman’s local hardware store that carries a variety of tubes for tubing, and other products and services that will make your water tubing experience more enjoyable. If you purchase a tube from us we will even fill it for you free of charge the same day as your purchase! Before heading out on your next Montana river rafting or tubing adventure stop by Owenhouse Ace!

A group of rafters are preparing to float down Yellowstone River rapids
A couple floats happily down a river on tubes

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