Glacier Guides and Montana Raft

How to Horseback Ride and Raft Glacier National Park

Let’s Ride and Raft Glacier – All In One Day!

Image: Horseback riding in Glacier National Park with Swan Mountain Outfitters. Cracker Lake ride, Many Glacier valley.

Welcome to Montana! Let’s ride horses and raft rivers – you can do both on the same day, or split up these activities over your vacation. We recommend our fellow Glacier National Park concession partner, Swan Mountain Outfitters, for horseback riding in and around Glacier National Park. Ride horses in the park, then go rafting with us!

Reserve Your Pony

First, book your horseback ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters.

Their website has all of the details and their phone number is 406-387-4405. Swan Mountain offers lots of options. Their trail rides range from an hour to an entire day. Most of these are suitable for novices, although some are recommended for experienced riders only. Swan Mountain operates three corrals inside of Glacier Park — Apgar, Lake McDonald, and Many Glacier — and one just outside of the park in West Glacier. The West Glacier corral is located across the highway from our rafting headquarters. How to choose? More on that below.

horseback ride to Sperry Chalet
Horseback ride to Sperry Chalet. This is a full day adventure for more experienced riders.

Choose Your Rafting Adventure

Second, after you’ve got horseback ride lined up, book your rafting trip with us!

We raft on the gorgeous Wild and Scenic River Middle Fork Flathead River. It forms Glacier National Park’s southwestern border. Just like with horseback riding, you’ve got options for rafting — scenic floats and whitewater adventures. Half day, full day, multi day, with lunch, with dinner, and more. Which is right for you?

Scenic Floats

Peaceful Scenic Floats offer about 2 hours of river magic from mid-May through mid-October. Most of the time, ages 3 and up are welcome to join these calm, relatively splash free experiences on Glacier’s border river, the Middle Fork Flathead. You can get all the details about Scenic Floats here.

scenic floating in Glacier
Cooling off on a hot summer day on a scenic float trip.

Whitewater Adventures

Whitewater adventures offer serious splash and so. much. fun! You’ll paddle over about 9 miles and 10 named rapids in the John F. Stevens Canyon. Choose between half day, full day , or multi-day whitewater adventures. These experiences typically begin in early May and run through early September, depending on river flows. In the summer and fall, ages 5 and up can generally join us for whitewater rafting. In the spring, our undammed river is in full runoff, and age limits will be higher. Learn more about Whitewater Rafting here.

Choosing a Corral for Your Glacier Park Horseback Ride: Pros + Cons

horseback ride in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park
Riding fine horses through new country out of the Many Glacier corral. This the 2 hour Cracker Flats ride.

Insider Knowledge – Our Horseback Ride and Raft Glacier Recommendations

How do you choose a corral? There are no bad choices in this bunch – each corral has its pluses and minuses. Mostly pluses! Remember that horseback rides tend to book up very quickly, so don’t overthink the decision. Our advice: book your ride and then move along to book your rafting. After 40 years of helping create dream Glacier National Park experiences, we know that having plans makes for better vacations.

How do I choose my rafting adventure? First, decide if you’re a whitewater or a scenic person. Both experiences raft the same gorgeous river that makes up Glacier’s border — you’re looking into the park the entire time you’re on the river. Whitewater rafting is more adventurous than scenic floating, but both are family friendly in the summer. Beyond that, it’s just a matter of how much river time your heart desires. Scenic Float or Half Day Whitewater trips are both safe bets for happy rafting!

What’s the easiest way to combine these adventures into a stress free Montana vacation experience your family will never forget?

  1. Book your 1 hour Apgar Meadows horseback ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters for 10am at the Apgar Corral.
  2. Book your 3:15pm whitewater rafting trip. Rather join us for a scenic float? Book the 3pm scenic option here. Keep in mind that these trips depart at 3:15 and 3pm but meet a half hour earlier, i.e. at 2:45pm and and 2:30 respectively.
  3. After your ride, come over to Glacier Guides and Montana Raft and make yourself comfortable under the shaded picnic pavilion at our place. Bring your lunch and relax until it’s time to go rafting! You can pick up lunch ahead of time in Whitefish, Columbia Falls, or Kalispell. As an alternative, visit one of several tasty spots here in West Glacier. You can check out all of our area dining recs in our Insiders Guide to Glacier National Park. We also have snacks (chips, snack bars, nuts) and cold drinks for sale in our office.

Ride and Raft Key Points

  • No experience necessary for rafting or riding.
  • Weight requirements for horseback riding are here, but generally riders must weigh 225 pounds or less.
  • Minimum age for horseback riding is 7 years.
  • For rafting, no maximum weight, but must be able to buckle a 58″ chest life jacket.
  • Minimum age for rafting varies with river flows, but Scenic Floats are typically available for rafters age 3 and up, and Whitewater Adventures are typically available for rafters age 5 and up.
  • Horseback riding duration: approximately 2 hours.
  • Rafting duration: about 3 hours, although the length of the rafting trip depends on the river flow. In June through early July, trips last about 2.5 hours. Mid-July through early August, about 3 hours. Mid-August through the end of season, approximately 3.5 hours.
  • Restrooms, Gear + Gift shop, WiFi, and volleyball are all available on our campus for your pre and post rafting entertainment!
  • Wear clothes you won’t mind getting wet rafting – which might not be the same ones you’ll feel best in for horseback riding. See our Packing List – Day Trips page for more information about what you will need for the rafting trip. Swan Mountain Outfitters FAQ for horseback riding is here.
  • Trips depart rain or shine.

Questions? Since 1983, we’ve had answers. Hit us up!

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