OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: COURTNEY STONE
Glacier Guides & Montana Raft
- Go rafting on the Flathead River
If you’re visiting the Crown Jewel of the Continent, West Glacier-based Glacier Guides and Montana Raft will serve you well as adventure ambassadors. Eco-friendly and dedicated to the preservation of the region’s wild character, it’s the only outfitting company that the National Park Service has trusted with the privilege of leading backpacking trips in the park, for more than 35 years—and they’re also one of four companies to offer whitewater rafting and fishing trips. Here, Glacier Guides’ Courtney Stone offers a peek into river life.
Q: This year, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act celebrates 50 Years. What makes Montana rivers special?
A: The Middle Fork Flathead was actually the inspiration for the whole act. It forms Glacier National Park’s southwestern border, and it is the most unbelievable shade of turquoise, because it is fed with glacier runoff. The cold nature of the snowpack in Glacier Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area doesn’t support much life—so the fish that do live here are super fun fighters. It’s crystal clear, and you can look down 100 feet in the summer. That makes it a very different experience than the Madison or Jefferson or Smith rivers elsewhere in Montana.
Q: What’s it like to be part of a community of people who run businesses and also love to get out there on wild adventures?
A: I can’t really imagine being part of a better industry. All the energy that comes from getting outside—people that love to be outside get up early and are used to working hard. It takes a lot of work to go into the Bob Marshall Wilderness for 10 days, to haul your boat, and make your food, and practice Leave No Trace, and pack an elk out. That sense of energy and work ethic pours over into their businesses. It informs their philosophy and sense of conservation ethics. We’re used to going the extra mile, and that flows into every aspect of business.
Q: Is there anything new and exciting at Glacier Guides?
A: We recently became the first and only commercial outfitters to offer bike tours of the Going-to-the-Sun Road during springtime, before it opens to vehicle traffic. Any guided, interpretive trip with us a pretty special experience, whether you’re hiking or on the river or a bike. But it’s a really intimate way to experience the Sun Road, from a bike. We’d go from avalanche to the pass—or as far as we can [due to plow progress]—and bring homemade, locally sourced organic lunches, and stop and sunbathe.