With temperatures rising around Montana, many people flock to area rivers as a refuge from the heat. As things begin to warm up, spring runoff can cause many rivers to become extremely dangerous.

On Sunday, some friends and I decided to float the Madison River. As with any hot day in Montana, there were crowds of people at the Warm Springs boat launch. The Madison provides the easiest float in the area, but can still get pretty dangerous when water levels are high. It may not be the best idea to float the river, unless you take necessary precautions and have appropriate equipment.

On the Madison River yesterday, we witnessed many people that had punctured their rafts, and had to end their floats prematurely. Another group of people with tubes tied together were stuck in a bush on the bank of the river due to the wind. It is important that you choose a durable raft or tube that is not easily popped or punctured. I am all for having fun with friends, but safety needs to be of upmost importance.

Many area rivers are currently at flood stage, and conditions can become dangerous quickly.

Here are a few tips to make sure your next river trip is a safe one.

    • Wear a life jacket. It may not be the most stylish thing, but it could save your life.
    • Make sure you have necessary equipment, especially when water levels are high. Many people buy cheap rafts and tubes to float the river. While that may suffice later in the summer, it is not safe to use them to float when rivers are raging. You want to able to control your craft and get out of a potentially dangerous situation quickly. If you do puncture your raft or tube, get out of the water. Don't continue your float.
    • Carry a dry bag. Make sure you have something to keep your important items from getting wet.
    • Wear sunscreen. A fun day in the sun can quickly be ruined by a terrible sunburn. Make sure to lather up before you hit the river.

If you have any additional safety tips you'd like to share, feel free to contact us.