The Gates of the Mountains tour is an excellent chance to experience one of the best scenic stretches of river in the west. The Missouri is absolutely beautiful.Book Now
Incredible scenery and lots of local lore
The Gates of the Mountains boat tours offer an opportunity to see the Montana wilderness from a different perspective. Our tour guide offered a wealth of knowledge about local history, wildlife, and native plants without being dry or boring. The boats are large and comfortable and have toilet facilities onboard.Book Now
Perfect for a Wedding
Imagine 1000 foot Limestone walls and the Missouri River as your backdrop for your big day! Gates of the Mountains offers the perfect setting for your day with some of the most incredible views in Montana.Book Now
Some of Montana's Most Diverse Wildlife
The canyon is home to some of Montana's most diverse wildlife. Inside the canyon there is a chance to see everything from a Bald Eagle to Mountain Lions, Black Bears, or maybe some River Otters.Book Now
Gates of the Mountains - Boat Tours & Marina
The evening of July 19,1805, was a hot one in the wilderness that would later become Montana. On the Missouri River, not far from present day Helena, the hardy members of the Lewis and Clark expedition toiled to move upstream. Rock embankments made towing from shore impossible, and the deep channel forced the men to row rather than pole their boats forward.
Suddenly, there loomed before them towering rock formations unlike any they had ever seen. From both sides of the river, limestone cliffs rose to a spectacular height of 1200 feet. “In many places,” wrote Meriwether Lewis, “the rocks seem ready to tumble on us.” At each bend in the waterway, great stone walls seemed to block passage, only to open like gentle giant gates as the expedition drew near. In his journal, Meriwether wrote: “I shall call this place: GATES OF THE MOUNTAINS.”
The name stuck, and for nearly two centuries travelers have ventured down this stretch of the Missouri to marvel at its natural wonders. Today, most visitors enjoy the beauty of the Gates of the Mountains from aboard a tour boat – the “Canyon Voyager” or the “Sacajawea” (named after the only women and indigenous person on the Expedition).
The 120-minute cruise starts at our Marina, just 3 miles off Interstate 15 in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains between Helena and Great Falls, Montana. Aboard a comfortable open-air boat (covered in case of rain), you’ll glide through magnificent country Meriwether Lewis would still recognize if he could return.
Great towering walls of limestone still stand guard over the river. Bighorn sheep and Mountain Goats scamper in the rocks high above the water. Ospreys, eagles (bald and golden), vultures and falcons (peregrine and prairie) still soar on the updrafts. The canyon is also home to otters, deer, squirrels, ermine, beaver, mountain lions, black bears and other wild creatures. The life list for bird species is over 120 right now.
From the vessel you can see Mann Gulch, the site of the raging forest fire that killed 13 smokejumpers, August 5, 1949. This tragedy was the main subject matter of Norman Maclean’s book “Young Men and Fire”. The story of Mann Gulch is one of the more interesting stories told by the guide and pilot.
Near Mann Gulch the pilot will hug the shoreline to give you a look at Indian pictographs painted on the rock wall. Proof that indigenous people lived here long before Meriwether named it the Gates of the Mountains.
The tour’s main attraction, though, is the inexhaustible scenery – wooded slopes, rugged rock formations, and the placid beauty of the timeless Missouri.
About the Gates
Nestled half way between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks sits the Gates of the Mountains. Located 20 miles north of Helena we are one of Montana’s not to miss destinations. When planning your Montana vacation of a lifetime do not miss the Gates of the Mountains. For over 125 years guests have been following in the path of Lewis and Clark exploring the “Gates of the Mountains”. Today the marina and boat tour is operated by the Gates of the Mountains Inc, whose goal is to protect, educate, and allow visitors to explore one of the last best places. Today…