Paddle McDonald Creek, Glacier National Park


    Added by Noah Couser

    This paddle offers lots of great rock bars and banks to stop and fish, sunbathe, or just sit and take in the beauty.

    Begin your trip by dropping your car (or bike) at Quarter Circle Bridge just inside Glacier Park. After dropping your shuttle vehicle, park in the Apgar Campground parking lot and walk your water craft to the shore of Lake McDonald. Paddling North, you will quickly find the outlet of scenic Lake McDonald. Don't exit the lake without snapping a few photos.

    After leaving the lake, the creek is wide and mostly flat, and few small ripples can dump and unsuspecting paddler, but it's really pretty mild. The duration of the float depends on water level, but usually takes between 1-2 hours.

    Your take out will be the Quarter Circle Bridge where the creek runs into the Middle Fork of the Flathead River (trip can be extended by 2 hours all the way to Blankenship Bridge if desired).

    Stop by the Packer's Roost or the Glacier Distillery to wet your whistle after your trip, and swing by the Glacier Grille for some tasty grub.

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    Stand Up Paddle
    Easy Parking
    Family Friendly
    Food Nearby
    Picnic Area
    Cliff Jumping
    Swimming Hole

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    Rate this Adventure

    Looking for some awesomeness

    Any suggestions on where to rent kayaks and PFDs in the park?


    Hello! Just looking on some information about maybe taking a tube down the river. Is the water flow fast enough? Is the water too cold for an August trip? Any information would be helpful!! Thanks!!


    🥇Top Contributor

    over 4 years ago

    Soothing Paddle

    McDonald Creek is as about as pretty as it gets for a Montana creek with the addition of freezing cold water. The fishing is usually great from July-September.

    Awesome Paddle

    We paddled from the lake to quarter circle bridge. It took less than an hour, but was BEAUTIFUL! The water was calm and was suitable for any level of paddler.

    Leave No Trace

    Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

    We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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