Swan River

Area Status: Open
Swan River

The Swan River originates in the Mission Mountans and flows north between the Swan Range and the Mission Mountain Wilderness.

The Swan originates at Gray Wolf Lake in the Mission Mountains, at 6,650 feet above sea level. Fed partly by melt from the Gray Wolf Glacier, the river descends through a short and steep canyon to Lindbergh Lake, at the base of the Mission Mountains. From there the river flows briefly east before turning north, passing Condon, flowing about 75 miles to the northern end of the valley where it empties into Swan Lake. At the north end of the 10-mile long lake, the river emerges into the Flathead Valley, where it turns abruptly west through a canyon, emptying into Flathead Lake at the town of Bigfork. Via Flathead Lake, it eventually drains to the Flathead River, a major tributary in the Columbia River system.

The river is fed by many tributaries descending from the mountains along both sides of its valley. On the west side, streams draining the Mission Mountains into the Swan River include Glacier, Elk, Cold, Jim, Piper, Woodward, Whitetail, and Porcupine Creeks. Eastern tributaries, flowing off the Swan Range, include Holland, Smith, Alder, Lion, Goat, Soup, and Lost Creeks. Below Swan Lake, the river is also joined by Bear and Mud Creeks from the east.

Montana Highway 83 roughly parallels the river from the Bigfork area to near Lindbergh Lake.

Swan River 2 Swan River

At a Glance

Rentals & Guides: There are many local equipment rental shops as well as guide services.  Please check for local updated listings online.
Permit Info: Permits are required for certain activities on Montana's public lands. This includes river recreation. If you plan on fishing, you will need a fishing license. Certain boats must be registered with the state.  Please visit MT FWP for registration details. Visit Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks for more information on these topics.
Usage: Medium
Best Season: June - September
Closest Towns: The Swan River passes along Condon, Swan Lake, and Bigfork, MT.
Information Center: For current river conditions, please visit the USGS website here.

General Information


Here are the access points to the Swan River.  Be aware that several of these are on state lands.

1. Electric Avenue Bridge in Bigfork

2. Pacific Park River Access (off Hwy #209, Ferndale)

3. Swan River Road - Steel Bridge (small boat launch)

4. Hwy 83 pull-off (mile marker 85)

5. Swan River Fishing Access Site (off Hwy #209, Ferndale)

6. South Ferndale Drive Bridge (mile marker 82)

7. Porcupine Creek Road (mile marker 69)

8. Point Pleasant Campground (mile marker 64)

9. Fatty Creek Road (mile marker 59)

10. Piper Creek Road (mile marker 54)

11. Salmon Prairie (mile marker 51)

12. Cold Creek Road (mile marker 47)

13. Glacier Creek Road - Condon (mile marker 42)

14. Kraft Creek Road (mile marker 38)

15. Pine Ridge Road (mile marker 36)

16. Lindbergh Lake Road (mile marker 33)


River and Stream Fishing

Permit required?: Y

Boating - Non-Motorized