Surf Missoula Wave Guide


  Surf Missoula Equipment Tips:

   1. Boards:
    - Boards designed for river waves work best.
    - Foam Surfboards make great first boards.
    - Never leave any surfboard baking in hot car.
 

2.  Fins:
     - Any set you don’t mind beating up.
 

3.  Wetsuits:
    - Choose suit or suits related to location, water & air temps.
    - Booties recomended for cold water temps and sharp rocks.

- Gloves recommended for extra-cold water temps
  

4.  Helmets 
    - It’s In the surfer’s hands to understand the risks and hazards and choose wearing a helmet …or no helmet

HELMET CONS:

 (...Could potentially make wearing helmet less-safe)

- Added equipment 

- Bulky

- Decreased mobility

- Decreased vision 

HELMET PROS:

(...Could potentially increase safety)

- Protects Head

- Looks safe
 

5. PFD (Life Jacket):

- Remember the board essentially is a PFD...
- 4/3 and 5/4 mil. wetsuits provide 16lbs flotation... (same as USCG approved PFD).

    - It’s in the surfer’s hands to understand the risks and hazards and choose wearing a life jacket …or no life jacket
 
LIFE JACKET CONS:

(...Could potentially make wearing a PFD less-safe)

 - Added equipment

- Bulky 

-Decreased mobility

- Decreased vision

LIFE JACKET PROS:

(...Could Potentially increase safety)

- Makes you float

- Looks safe

   

6.  Leashes: 

- Leashes in the river can be very dangerous.

-  Leashes used in the wrong place or situation can lead to drowning.

- Use Quick Release Leashes Only!  (Knee or PFD) 
- No Ankle leashes! ... (bad idea in the river)  

- It's in the surfer's hands to understand the risks and hazards and choose a quick release leash ...or no leash    

LEASH CONS:  

(...Could potentially make wearing a leash less-safe)

- possibility of getting snagged or trapped

LEASH PROS:

(...Could potentially increase safety)

- Life-line to your board... (which is a PFD)

- Keeps board from getting stuck in wave after crashing.

- Eliminates long board chases, which can lead to many dangerous scenarios.
 

* Equipment such as helmets, PFD's & leashes are subject to controversy... do to the "new" factor of river surfing.

 We encourage helmet, PFD & leash use be left in the surfer's hands... (as in ocean surfing).  


Name: Brennan’s Wave / (Low-water Middle Wave)
Location: Downtown Missoula

River:  Clarkfork

Guage: Above Missoula
CFS:  1300 - 10,000
Season: Summer, Fall, Winter
About:  Man made wave, can be crowded, ...easy - moderate swim
Hazards:  Exposed rebar, summertime tubers & beer cans
Skill Level:  Beginner - Expert

Name:  Brennan’s Wave / (Main Wave)
River:  Clarkfork
Location:  Downtown Missoula

Guage: Above Missoula
CFS:  4000 plus
Season:  Spring
About:  Man made wave, can be crowded, ...easy - moderate swim
Hazards:  Sinker logs, run-off debris, city sewer leaks
Skill Level:  Beginner - Expert


 Surf Missoula Safety & Etiquette Tips:

  1.  Always Respect the river.
 
2.  Always Respect other river users.
 
3.  Up-river traffic has the right of way.

- Get off the wave...so up river craft can pass safe.
 
4. One surfer on wave.

- When there is a crowd...be aware & ready for your turn.

-" Party wave" only when designated.

5. No Wave Hogs. 

- Be aware of crowd size & length of rides.
  6. Understand:
    - River Surfing is performed in un-controlled dangerous whitewater environments.
    - All risks & hazards associated to river surfing...
    - River / Wave dynamics & what makes the wave “Good-to-Go” …or not
  6.  Know:
    - Your Ability.
    - Your Equipment.
 7.  Have a safety plan in case something goes wrong. 
    -  Be aware of river access points.
    -  Be self prepared.
  8.  Ropes are never a good idea in the river...!

- Surfing isn’t easy.

- Enjoy the challenge of catching the wave

- Keep practicing.


  * The ride or surf of the wave is a small part of river surfing.  The river demands respect.  Understanding the environment, river dynamics plus physical fitness level play a huge part in the surf experience.  If you have questions on risks, hazards or river/wave dynamics... we suggest signing up for a local swift-water coarse to become more familiar with the river.
 

Name:  The Ledge Wave

Location:  Just up river from Johnsrud River Access
River:  Blackfoot
Guage: Bonner
CFS:  3,500 - 6,000
Season:  Spring
About:  Natural ledge wave, great for Stand-Up paddle surfing, ...easy - moderate swim
Hazards:  Sinker logs, run-off debris
Skill Level:  Beginner

Name:  Dream Wave

 Location: Alberton Gorge (40 min. West of Missoula)
River:  Clarkfork
Guage: St. Regis
CFS:  18,000 - 21,000
Season:  Spring
About:  Natural ledge wave, big water, run-off debris, ...demanding swim
Hazards:  Shallow ledges, bridge pillars, strong currents
Skill Level:  Expert

Surf Missoula TIPS

 ”Know before You Go”

  Knowledge plus Respect equals a safe and fun river-surfing experience…

Name:  Zero Wave

Location:  Alberton Gorge (40 min. West of Missoula)
River:  Clarkfork
Guage:St. Regis
CFS:  2700 - 4000
Season:  Summer, Fall, Winter
About:  Natural formed ledge wave, ...moderate - demanding swim
Hazards:  Slippery rocks, shallow ledge surfer's left of wave
Skill Level:  Intermediate - Expert

Name: Brennan’s Wave / (High-water Middle Wave)

Location: Downtown Missoula
River:  Clarkfork

Guage: Above Missoula
CFS:  10,000 plus
Season: Spring
About:  Man made wave, ...moderate - demanding swim 
Hazards: Sinker logs, run-off debris, strong currents
Skill Level:  intermediate - Expert

Name:  Cliffside Wave

​Location:  Alberton Gorge  (40 min. West of Missoula)
River:  Clarkfork
Guage: St. Regis
CFS:  1650 - 1900
Season:  Summer
About: Natural formed ledge wave, steep, fast, rowdy, ...demanding swim
Hazards:  Shallow river-wide ledge below wave plus 3 sneaker rocks in eddy below wave
Skill Level:  Intermediate - Expert

Name:  Comp Wave

Location:  Alberton Gorge (40 min. West of Missoula)
River:  Clarkfork
Guage: St. Regis
CFS:  20,000 - 22,000
Season:  Spring
About:  Natural boulder / ledge wave, big water, ...demanding swim
Hazards:  Shallow ledges, bridge pillars, strong currents
Skill Level:  Expert

Surf Missoula is a community page created by Strongwater MTN Surf Company to serve as a showcase, voice & information resource for the Missoula River Surf Community.  Find Surf Missoula on facebook for recent updates and photos.


Name:  Lochsa Pipeline Wave

Location:  Between mile marker 113 & 114 on HWY 12 (2 hours SW of Missoula)
River:  Lochsa
Guage: Lowell
CFS:  4,500 - 16,000
Season:  Spring
About:  Natural boulder wave, big water, ...demanding swim
Hazards:  Strong currents, run-off debris
Skill Level:  Intermediate - Expert

Surf Missoula Goals:
•  Build a strong and progressive river surf community
•  Promote clean rivers, local wave & river enhancement projects.
•  Educate local surfers.
•  Information hub for local river levels and surf locations.
•  Promote & showcase Missoula's River Surfing Community.