MISSOULA — Floating season is in full swing here in Missoula!
It's a beloved pastime, and now it's even easier to enjoy the Clark Fork River as the University of Montana is launching a free river shuttle service.
"In Missoula, we love our rivers, but we want to make sure that we're not loving them to death," UM Office of Transportation Director Jordan Hess said. "It's so nice to have a river running through our community, but also right through campus."
Maybe that's why floating is one of Missoula's favorite summertime activities. "It's gotten more popular over the past few summers," said Hess.
And as more and more people discover the last best place, they're discovering all the ways to recreate.
"One thing that I've heard this year is that as there's more tourists in town, and there's less rental cars available, people are staying right in Missoula more, and they're looking for opportunities like this," Hess told MTN News.
So the UM decided this was the perfect time to test drive the shuttle idea.
"What we're trying to do is shape river recreation so that it is safe, and responsible, and has less of an impact." Hess said, "We can provide a safe ride, and we're hoping that students, and every user, will be responsible in the process."
The Clark Fork River Ambassadors say shuttle services like these can even encourage sustainable recreation.
"Just less fossil fuels and carbon emissions. It also really helps that parking infrastructure at Sha-Ron fishing access that can be overloaded," observed Clark Fork Coalition Lead River Ambassador Charlie Rieck.
"We hate to see people parking on Highway 200 which really poses a risk to both personal property, leaving your car there, and to the people who are hoping to recreate and have a good time," Rieck added.
You can walk, bike or park on campus and pack your float in the buses right by the gym. They'll be making stops every hour on the hour to take you to the put-in.
"It's all the fun, and none of the hassle, and we really hope people are able to get out and enjoy it," said Hess.
Hess said if all goes well they'll plan to continue the service in summer's to come. The river shuttles will run through Aug. 29. You can find a more detailed schedule and map here.