Madison River: Beautiful Scenery, Big Whitewater
Roughly an hour away from Bozeman, Montana lies Beartrap Canyon. Running through Beartrap Canyon is the Madison River, which pours out of Ennis Lake. This section mixes a few Class III-IV rapids with the notorious Kitchen Sink Rapid, that becomes a Class V at higher water. This short stretch of river offers wonderful scenery, great fishing, and just enough whitewater to keep you on your toes.
Madison River Map & Guide
WARNING: Conditions change frequently and may make this guide useless. This guide is NOT a replacement for sound judgment or experience.
Class III Rapid
Class III rapid or river feature.
Class IV Rapid
Class IV rapid or river feature.
Class V Rapid
Class V rapid or river feature.
Put-In / Take-Out
The most commonly used access points.
Point of Interest
These include creeks, and old cabins.
Well known surf waves, jump rock locations, and safe swim areas
Bear Trap Canyon – Class III, IV, & V
Bear Trap Canyon is a wonderful section with a few big rapids, including the Kitchen Sink Rapid, which can become Class V at certain flows. There is wonderful scenery in this area, and great fishing to be had in the many pools.
Above Powerhouse to BLM Warm Springs Boat Launch is 8.72 miles.
Intermediate to Advanced
Feet per Mile
Above Powerhouse to BLM Warm Springs Boat Launch is ~28FPM
Above Powerhouse to BLM Warm Springs Boat Launch is 1 hour and 30 minutes round trip. Google Map directions.
Mile 0 – Double Drop Put-in: River Right. As the name implies, this Put-In lies right above Double Drop Rapid, which you can scout while getting ready to launch. Double Drop is considered a Class III-IV rapid.
Mile 0.04 – Double Drop Rapid: Class III-IV. Enter right to avoid 2 large holes that form. On the bottom right of this rapid there is a rock you’ll want to avoid. Easy to scout from put-in. At late summer flows, this rapid will likely be far too low to run. If so, put in down at Powerhouse put-in.
Mile 0.40 – Powerhouse Put-In: River Right. Put-In just above the Powerhouse if the water is too low to run Double Drop which occurs around 1,500 CFS. To avoid congestion, it is best then park your car upstream. There are rails at the put-in, which makes sliding any craft quite easy.
Mile 0.41 – Pedestrian Bridge: Just above the Powerhouse is a small pedestrian footbridge to access river left.
Mile 0.42 – Madison Powerhouse: River Right. Madison Powerhouse adds significant water to the Madison River, especially in the summer months. Usually, around 1,200 CFS is added to the river. During low flows, you will notice a huge increase in flows just downstream of this powerhouse. Some years, to decrease the temperature of the river, excess water will be pulled from the bottom of Ennis Lake.
Mile 1.7 – Whitehorse Rapid: Class III+. Enter left-of-center to avoid the main boulder, then start working right. Below here is a read-and-run boulder garden. Can be scouted upstream on the left.
Mile 3.31 – Kitchen Sink Rapid: Class IV-V. Scout Right. The dangerous side of this rapid is on the left side where there are numerous sieves. Enter left-of-center. Water pushes towards Herb’s Rock, working to split between Herb’s and the Shark’s Fin. Herb’s Rock has water pillowing off of it, so if you find yourself moving towards Herb, don’t be afraid to T it up. There are several small drops throughout the rapid. The exit has a large rock called the Camel’s Back, you can go right or left here at most flows. Learn more about Kitchen Sink Rapid.
Mile 3.92 – Greenwave: Class III. There are multiple lines. The easiest line is on the right. There is a sieve pile in the middle you can go right of. There’s a hole on the bottom that typically is runnable, but you may have carnage.
Mile 4.64 – Bear Trap Creek Confluence: River Right. Bear Trap Creek enters the Madison River from the right-hand side.
Mile 8.72 – Warm Springs Take-Out: River Left. This is the take-out for Bear Trap Canyon, and the put-In for the Warm Springs stretch, which is mostly a scenic/fishing float.
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