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Flooding severely changed Southern Montana rivers

Flooding severely changed Southern Montana rivers
Posted at 8:32 PM, Aug 05, 2022

STILLWATER COUNTY — After historic June flooding, many rivers in Southern Montana are forever changed with new channels and debris.

“The entire Stillwater's pretty much changed,” said Tim Hedin, the head raft guide at Absaroka River Adventures in Absarokee.

Hedin took MTN News out on the Stillwater River Friday to show first-hand some of the major changes to the river.

“It’s a completely new river. I’ve been here guiding for 27 years and our first few floats down this section were completely new,” he said.

Aside from the new channels in the river, there's also a long list of debris to keep an eye out for. And it's not just the downed trees and boulders.

“There's metal, there’s car parts, there’s decks, there’s hot tubs,” said Hedin.

Many back country lakes also look drastically different in the wake of the floods. Near Mystic Lake, an natural dam gave way, leaving sandy shorelines on Island Lake that never existed before.

Back on the Stillwater River, Hedin says there is a silver lining to the now altered landscape.

“The floods washed some rocks out and it’s just become a much more fun river,” he said.

Hedin also says the river is lower than it usually is this time of year. And with new rocks below the surface, there are new rapids to explore.

“If you are coming out boating, especially as the water keeps getting lower you just gotta keep your eyes open,” Hedin said.