2018 Boat-Float-A-Plooza to see minor adjustments

Chris Aiken, Pioneer Staff Writer 
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The float must go on. 

Despite torrents of summer rainfall, the annual Yellowstone Boat Float will take place albeit with a different itinerary. 

On a typical year, boaters cover three stretches of Yellowstone River in three days. They float from Livingston to Big Timber, camp one night at Otter Creek, then continue down to Indian Fort Fishing Access in Reed Point for night number two. On the third day they float the 20-mile stretch from Reed Point to Columbus. 

However, with June floods washing out Indian Fort Road in Reed Point, float organizers were forced come up with an alternate plan. This year, boaters will camp both Friday and Saturday night at Otter Creek. They will float from Livingston to Big Timber on Friday, camp overnight, then shuttle back to Livingston and repeat the same stretch of river on Saturday. Dedicated floaters will have the option of making a shorter voyage to Bratten Fishing Access on Sunday if they choose. 

Sean McDuffee, a Billings residents, administers the Yellowstone Boat Float Facebook page, and has helped organize the event for many years. McDuffee said he and other organizers reached out to several private landowners in Reed Point seeking a substitute campground for Saturday night. Ultimately they were unable to secure a site that could accommodate the boaters, who typically number in the hundreds, and who also have a reputation for rowdiness. The landowners — mostly ranchers — demurred. 

“I don’t blame them,” McDuffee said. “They grow hay out there. That’s there livelihood.” 

Organizers also considered a longer second day trip from Big Timber to Columbus, a stretch that boat floaters have not done in 20 years or more, McDuffee said. The distance was deemed too great.

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