The Swan River is a 95mi long, north-flowing river in western Montana in the United States. The river drains a long isolated valley, known as the Swan Valley, between the Swan Range on the east and the Mission Mountains to the west.Work out when and for how long to visit Swan River and other Bigfork attractions using our handy Bigfork trip planner .
On an 1884 Rand McNally map, the Swan River and Swan Lake are referred to as the Sweatinghouse River and the Sweatinghouse Lake. However, by 1895, most maps had adopted Swan, a name apparently proposed by early English hunters in the area and acknowledged by the locals, according to Ken Wolf’s 1980 Montana Magazine article “History of the Swan Valley.” Henry Coale quoted a local 1914 report that "Twenty years ago Trumpeter Swans were common in Montana, and used regularly to winter here, but are now on the verge of extinction." He indicated that the Kootenai Indians generally reported that swans bred in the Flathead Valley up to the first immigration of whites in 1886... Coale described swans nesting historically at Lake Rodgers, at Swan Lake, and on the east side of Flathead Lake, and on the lakes which drain Clearwater, a branch of the Big Blackfoot River.
The Swan originates at Gray Wolf Lake in the Mission Mountains, at 6650ft above sea level. Fed partly by melt from the Gray Wolf Glacier, the river descends through a short and steep canyon to Lindbergh Lake, at the base of the Mission Mountains. From there the river flows briefly east before turning north, passing Condon, flowing about 75mi to the northern end of the valley where it empties into Swan Lake. At the north end of the 10mi long lake, the river emerges into the Flathead Valley, where it turns abruptly west through a canyon, emptying into Flathead Lake at the town of Bigfork. Via Flathead Lake, it eventually drains to the Flathead River, a major tributary in the Columbia River system.
Swan River Reviews
This is a wonderful river! My favorite thing to do is kayak down the river. However, it has so much to offer, from beauty to wildlife, to fishing, swimming, to the river road nature hike, to seasonal ... more »
Great place for our girl Cham to take swim. It was pristine and easy access!!! Next time we are in the area we would like to fish and explore the river!!! more »
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