"Both Capt. C. and myself corrisponded in opinion... and accordingly agreed to name... the S. W. fork, that which we meant to ascend, Jefferson's River in honor of Thomas Jefferson, the author of our enterprise."
-- Meriwether Lewis, July 28, 1805
Jefferson River Canoe Trail Canoeing, kayaking, rafting, camping, fishing, hiking, birdwatching, mushroom hunting... there's something for everyone! A project of the Jefferson River Chapter LCTHF
About the Canoe Trail
The Jefferson River Canoe Trail encompasses the entire 80-mile length of the Jefferson River, along with fishing access sites, campsites, hiking trails, conservation easements, state lands and state parks, and adjacent BLM and Forest Service lands. Public lands along the river are designated as leave-no-trace campsites. The Jefferson River Chapter is acquiring additional campsites to fill in the gaps.
What do you love about the Jefferson River? Whether you are passionate about paddling or would rather keep your feet dry, there is something for everyone along the Jefferson River Canoe Trail.
Join the Jefferson River Chapter to connect with fun-loving people working together to advocate for conservation and recreation on the Jefferson River:
- Help acquire land for public access and paddler campsites.
- Enjoy canoe/kayak outings, picnics, potlucks and work/play days.
- Explore the history of the Lewis & Clark Expedition and the indigenous tribes who have known this region as home.
Video: Jefferson River Chapter members clean up a junk boat that was crashed and abandoned along the river.
Here in Montana we value our tradition of open spaces and open access. People who have lived here all their lives are accustomed to hunting, hiking, and fishing for miles and miles along the rivers and through the woods, across public and private lands alike.
But the culture in Montana is changing as many new people move to the area, bringing different ideas of private ownership. "No Trespassing" signs sprout up on lands that have been shared for generations. New fences are being erected, not to keep livestock in, but to keep people out. Some landowners have fenced right up to the river bridges, blocking legal public access along the road easements.
In many ways it is simply a cultural misunderstanding, as many new arrivals are simply unfamiliar with Montana's tradition of open space and open access. The Jefferson River Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation is seeking long-term solutions to sustain Montana's outdoor traditions, especially through the purchase of conservation and recreation easements along the Jefferson River.
We welcome you to join us in our efforts to make a real difference in this part of the world. If you have ideas or enthusiasm to make this vision a reality, please join our group today. We hold our meetings almost exclusively via e-mail. You can participate in our e-mail discussions at your own convenience from your own home or office. Please click here to join. You will also be invited to participate in our annual meeting and float trips, as we get together once each year for a more personal dialogue and loads of fun.
Thank you so incredibly much for all of your information that made our trip down the Jefferson possible. My husband and I floated/paddled from Waterloo to the bridge just before Three Forks. We spent two overnights. It was an amazing and memorable trip. I saw two moose, three grey owls, more bald eagles than I could count, white pelicans, cormorants, golden eagles, heron rookeries, and a coyote. I have been telling everyone about it. We did the trip in two lake kayaks.
We would not have explored this area without your great website full of information and your maps. Thank you very much. My husband and I fully support your efforts in preserving this and we thank you for all you have done. We can't wait to go back in the fall sometime. It will be nicer without mosquitos!