Boulder River

Details

Location:
Big Timber, MT
United States United States
Coordinates:
45.85274, -109.92374
Distance:
65 Miles
Description:

The Boulder River originates in the rugged, high elevations of the Beartooth Mountains in the Gallatin National Forest. It tumbles down 7,300 feet and 60 miles through mixed conifers, deciduous trees, shrubs, grassland, and agricultural land, to join the Yellowstone River. Total length is 65 miles long.

The river is a popular destination for fly fishing. Other attractions in the valley include several church camps, a guest ranch, and several USFS campgrounds. The Forest Service also maintains several guard stations, trailheads, and picnic areas in the valley.

From where the Boulder River begins, at the confluence of South Fork Boulder River and Basin Creek, the river runs through a narrow and small valley, flanked on all sides by the towering Absaroka Mountains and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area. For the first thirty miles, the Boulder River predominantly runs through public land, with a few scattered parcels of private land lying about. Access is excellent - just pull off the side of the road and go.

This upper section of the Boulder River has very fast current, lots of whitewater of Class III and Class IV, excellent pools and solitude for the angler willing to walk away from areas where the road nears the river. While it is rather time consuming and a slow drive to access this section, the upper Boulder River is well worth the trip.

Thirty miles downstream from its origin, the Boulder River flows through Natural Bridge Monument, a unique waterfall that is well worth taking the time to see. As the Boulder River flows through the monument, the river disappears entirely in a large mass or rocks, re-appearing one hundred feet later in two distinct waterfalls that cascade down more than one hundred feet. The sight of water flowing out of the rocks, not just over it, is a unique site, and well worth the price of the short walk required to see it.

Below Natural Bridge, the Boulder River passes primarily through private land as it leaves the Absaroka Mountains behind and begins to flow through the high plains. The valley just outside of the mountains has extensive agricultural operations. Fields of hay go right up to the rivers edge.

The current of the Boulder River also slows. The country becomes much more open, offering excellent views of the surrounding mountains.

After flowing for more than thirty miles below Natural Bridge, the Boulder River reaches the confluence with the Yellowstone River near the town of Big Timber, MT.

Game Fish Opportunities:

Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Mountain Whitefish, Rainbow Trout, Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout

Cover/Structure:

The Boulder River lives up to its name on the upper stretch with boulders of every size everywhere. And they are slick, even in good wading shoes. Combine that with a very fast current and some deep pools. Heavily forested and bushy banks. Undercut banks in the lower river.

Tips/Tactics:

Fishing from the bank often isn't an option as the bank is just too heavily forested and bushy for most of its length.

Below Natural Bridge State Monument, the size of the fish greatly increases. Rainbow trout and brown trout predominate, with fish stretching up to twenty-four inches occasionally taken.

Fishing on the lower stretch is excellent for dry fly fisherman and streamer fisherman alike. Using large streamers in the many deep holes and along the undercut banks is a wonderful way to catch the rivers large brown trout. For the dry fly angler, the Boulder River has excellent caddisfly hatches throughout the summer. Due to the relatively low fishing pressure, standard dry flies like the Parachute Adams and Elk Hair Caddis work very well.

Spot Access:
Parking (car/truck), Picnic Area, Shore fishing access, Camping, Fly Fishing, Wading, Floating
New Photo

Photos

Map

Map for 45.85274, -109.92374
New Fishing Report

Fishing Reports

There are no reports for this fishing spot.

Fish

Brooktrout-240-fw

Trout, Brook (Salvelinus fontinalis)

Freshwater
Browntrout-240-fw

Trout, Brown (Salmo trutta)

Freshwater
Cutthroattrout-240-fw

Trout, Cutthroat (Oncorhynchus clarki)

Freshwater
522
Fish_1116236325_speid54

Trout, Steelhead (Rainbow) (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Fish_1246512368_speid433

Whitefish, Mountain (Prosopium williamsoni)

Freshwater
131

Guides

Cmplogo_3215

Absaroka-Beartooth Outfitters

Imagine... nearly one million acres of magnificent game-filled country--a trout fisher’s paradise and home to the finest elk, deer, sheep, goat, moose and bear populations in North America. Located...
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Biggies Bugs and Guides

I specialize in Fly Fishing adventures throughout Southwestern Montana. Our trips are focused on teaching the art of the fly to every skill level. I place a heavy emphasis on instruction and shari...
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Big Timber Fly Fishing

Away from the crowded, more publicized rivers, where Montana's Crazy Mountains tumble down to Big Timber Creek are the Boulder and Yellowstone Rivers. These great and uncrowded fishing streams ar...
Big Timber, MT, United States United States
Cmplogo_21994

Big Timber Guides

Fly Fishing in beautiful Montana - Fly fish the majestic Yellowstone River or one of the best kept secrets in the world, the Boulder River near the Absaroka / Beartooth Wilderness, just north of Yel...
Big Timber, MT, United States United States
Cmplogo_22020

Castabout Guide Service

Flyfishing Outfitter On Montana's Best Rivers I am often asked when is the best week to come to Montana? The answer is whenever you can get away. My outifitting operation is quite different than mo...
Livingston, MT, United States United States
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Matson Rogers' Angler's West Flyfishing Outfitters

Professionally guided fishing trips from Bozeman, MT. Experience world-class flyfishing on the Madison, Yellowstone, Gallatin, and Missouri rivers as well as our local spring creeks.
Emigrant, MT, United States United States
Cmplogo_22893

Montana Angler Fly Fishing

Montana Angler Fly Fishing offers guided fly fishing trips and lodging pacakges in Southwest Montana.
Bozeman, MT, United States United States

Lodges

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Bunkhouse Bed & Breakfast

BunkhouseCabin 1 night, 2 guests $125.00- each additional guest $15.002 nights or more, 2 guests $115.00 per night- each additional guest $10.0050% non-refundable deposit required to confirm reserva...
Big Timber, MT, United States United States
Cmplogo_4762

Burnt Out Lodge

We are open from May to November. The cost for rooms with one queen sized bed is $88.50 for one person and $97.00 for two people. The cost for rooms with two queen sized beds is $107.00 for two peo...
Big Timber, MT, United States United States
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Hawley Mountain Ranch

Enjoy refreshing days of casting flies to wild trout in our remote wilderness setting. Fly fish in solitude from ranch access 24 miles north of Yellowstone Park in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness....
McLeod, MT, United States United States

Tournaments

There are no tournaments associated with this fishing spot.