Big Fork River

By Jim Umhoefer
Trails Reporter


  • Itasca and Koochinching counties.
  • 165 miles from Dora Lake to the Rainy river


The Big Fork River would still be familiar to the Indians and fur traders if they were to canoe it today. Scattered farms, towns and bridges remind modern explorers of the 20th century, but the rest of the route remains primitive.

The rapids and white-water stretches are for experienced canoeists only, although novices can enjoy this wilderness river if they portage the obstacles. Some of the portages are rough and brushy.

Planning is vital for all canoeists on an isolate driver like the Big Fork. Drinking water, for example, is hard to come by along the way. You have to disinfect and filter the river water, or pack your own. Potable water is available at the Highway 6 campsite (River Mile 74), at Johnson's Landing (RM-65) and at the few river towns that you'll paddle through. Outfitters in Bigfork and Grand Rapids can assist with your preparations. Read more:


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