Where river lovers converge in West Glacier
Officially, on maps it’s called the “West Glacier River Access Boating Site”. Sounds very technical. Maybe that’s why everybody just knows it as the “Take Out Beach”.
Just downstream from the village of West Glacier (and from the Old Belton Bridge), the Take Out Beach is perhaps the finest spot to start or finish your experience on the incredibly scenic and special Middle Fork of the Flathead River. It’s the epicenter of a river-loving community.
Rafting tours converge here. Upstream is the stretch with Class II and III rapids that begins at Moccasin Creek and goes through high canyons and past huge mountains. Downstream is the more mellow stretch of the Middle Fork, a leisurely float to Blankenship Bridge.
And right here is a wide, pebble-strewn shore to wade in, cool off at, toss rocks from, gear up at or just sit and take it all in.
Caiti Woods from Glacier Guides says it’s a busy spot. Glacier Guides may run five or six launches a day on a busy summer day, and some have up to five boats. “We load up and move our trips out of there, but we also like to just relax there after a trip, too,” she says. Guides linger with guests, chatting about the river, the mountains and life in Glacier National Park.
The Take Out Beach is also the prime put-in for fly-fishing float trips on the Middle Fork, one of the premiere destinations in America and renowned for dry-fly fishing for Westslope Cutthroat Trout.
“Everybody there is enjoying the river, one way or another,” says Todd Ashcroft, Location Manager for West Glacier Village.
For river lovers, it’s a prime opportunity to connect with one of North America’s most beloved waterways, and to contemplate the personality of it. If you love the Flathead, you’ll likely love it here. You can meet fellow river-lovers, and chat about their favorite sections and favorite fishing spots.
“The personality of the river changes here,” Caiti Woods says. What above is full of rapids and whitewater below becomes more placid.
Next time you’re in West Glacier and wanting to get to know the Middle Fork, this is the spot to start. Or maybe to finish. Or maybe to just stand still.
“It’s the river in the summertime in Montana. Nobody has a care in the world,” she says.