Gallatin River Canyon, Big Sky Montana

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Gallatin River Canyon

The Gallatin River cuts through this deep canyon as it winds its way North from Yellowstone to Bozeman. Drive along US-191 as it follows the river for stunning views, hiking trails, whitewater rafting, camping, and dynamite trout fishing. Big Sky sits high in the Madison Mountains above the Gallatin River Canyon.

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  • Pull off US-191 as it twists through the canyon for easy-access camping, hiking, and mountain biking.
  • Fish year round in the Gallatin River, a Blue Ribbon trout stream.
  • Enjoy a combination whitewater rafting and zipline adventure.

Why should I visit the Gallatin River Canyon?

US-191 hugs the trout-rich Gallatin River as it meanders through a deep-cut canyon, making this narrow wilderness corridor into an outdoor adventure super-highway. Pull over anywhere: fishing access points, trailheads, campsites, and scenic look-outs densely dot the roadside for easy-access wilderness. The drive is gorgeous and the landscape is iconic - it was the setting for fishing scenes in the classic film A River Runs Through It, and the clear blue water is framed by steep mountains and canyon walls as it winds through fields of golden grass and dense forest.

Where is the Gallatin River Canyon?

From Gallatin Lake in the high mountains of Yellowstone National Park, the West Gallatin River flows through scenic Gallatin Canyon between the Madison and the Gallatin Ranges for 80 miles. Running North from West Yellowstone and through Big Sky to Gallatin Gateway, US 191 follows the Gallatin River.

What can I do and see in the Gallatin River Canyon?

  • Fishing
    The king of Blue Ribbon trout streams, the Gallatin hosts scores of rainbow, brown trout, mountain whitefish, cutthroat, and brook trout. Fishing season is year-round on this river, but anglers have the best luck casting from late June through the summer. The flow through the Gallatin River doesn't pick up enough for floating until north of Big Sky. It is best fished with waders or from the banks. Pick up a fishing license at local outfitters.
  • Whitewater Rafting
    Spring runoff transforms the Gallatin from a friendly babbling stream to a surging river, peaking in June when water flows at around 3,230 cubic feet per second. By August, its already back down to around 630 cfs. Join a guided rafting trip to enjoy the Class II - IV rapids on the 13-mile section between Greek Creek and Spanish Creek.
  • Wildlife Viewing
    Keep an eye out for the bighorn sheep, black bears, elk, and moose that call the Gallatin Canyon home.
  • Camping
    Pitch your tent at one of the riverside designated campgrounds right off of US-191: Greek Creek, Swan Creek, Moose Flat or Red Cliff.
  • Hiking and Mountain Biking
    Trails sprinkled along US-191 offer a wide range of hiking and biking options. Try the Grizzly Loop trail for biking and the Lemondrop Loop or Lava Lake trail for hiking.

Other Gallatin River Canyon Resources

Yellowstone River

One of the main rivers flowing out of Yellowstone National Park.

Madison River

The Madison River flows from the west side of Yellowstone.

Hyalite Canyon

Hyalite Canyon and Reservoir are popular recreation areas near Bozeman.