Get Wet and Wild

Swimming, Boating, and Water Skiing

Southwest Montana has plenty of places to just get your feet wet or to jump right in and escape those warm summer days.

The whole family can take the boat out to a variety of lakes and waterways in Southwest Montana including Holter Lake, Canyon Ferry, Black Sandy, Park Lake, and Georgetown Lake just to name a few. So grab a suit and towel, slip on those life jackets and head for the water: it’s time to get wet and wild in Southwest Montana.


Rivers have been an important part of Montana history. Indians and French trappers used the rivers for transportation and the Lewis and Clark Expedition navigated Montana’s rivers as they explored the Louisiana Purchase and opened up the great American frontier.

You can explore Montana’s rivers in many ways. Guides offer half-day to seven-day trips on rowboats, rafts, and kayaks. Outfitters and guides receive extensive training and your safety is their primary concern. Overnight trips are available for those who want to combine exceptional rafting and camping for an extended adventure.

Featured Attractions

Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

Fairmont Hot Springs Resort is the premier Montana hot springs with an exciting 350 foot enclosed waterslide. It’s a wet and wild ride into Fairmont’s outdoor pool and you are guaranteed to make a splash. The waterslide uses the hot springs water, and along with the pools, is open year round. Fairmont means fun for the entire family.

Spring Meadow Lake in Helena

A day-use-only park minutes from Helena fed by natural springs, Spring Meadow is a popular spot for family afternoons of swimming, sunbathing, scuba diving, fishing, bird watching, and pure play. You can also walk the park’s easy nature trail that circles the lake which is home to a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. In winter, if it’s cold enough, you can ice-skate on the lake.

The Cardboard Cup Regatta at Spring Meadow Lake is a family fun event sponsored by the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, the US Forest Service, Northern Region and the Mikal Kellner Foundation for Animals. Building a boat requires some imagination, there are no size restrictions and the boat may be as big or small as the participants wish. However, the boat must be made of corrugated cardboard and pass a boat inspection before racing. No matter how fast, slow, big or small, sensible or outrageous, the first rule is to have fun. Come out to Spring Meadow Lake and join the excitement; this event is as much fun to watch as it is to participate in.

Gates of the Mountains

Towering walls of limestone still stand guard over the river. Bighorn sheep and mountain goats play in the rocks above the water. Ospreys, eagles, vultures and falcons still soar overhead. The Gates of the Mountains canyon is also home to otters, deer, squirrels, ermine, beaver, mountain lions, black bears and other wild creatures. Tour the Gates just north of Helena aboard one of the three boats, set off hiking or enjoy a picnic and a swim.

Life jackets are the most essential piece of safety equipment to wear on or around the water. If you fall overboard or off the dock, your chances of survival are greatly improved when wearing a life jacket.

Note: Montana requires children under 12 years of age to wear a life jacket when on board a boat less than 26 feet in length. Anyone riding a personal watercraft must wear a life jacket.