Those who enjoy rafting and kayaking on the Russell Fork River look forward to this time each year as they prepare to tackle world class whitewater. Each Saturday and Sunday during the first four full weekends in October, water is released from the John Flannagan Dam and Reservoir, creating Class Five plus rapids on the Russell Fork through the Breaks Gorge.
Different sections of the river provide varying levels of difficulty. Rafters will find Class Two and Three rapids closer to the Flannagan Dam area, and rapids topping Class Five through the Breaks Park area on sections of the river with names like “twenty stitches,” “broken nose,” and “triple drop.” The gradient of the Russell Fork ranges from five feet per mile to an unbelievable 180 feet per mile. One violent 75-foot stretch, aptly named “El Horrendo,” is considered one of the most difficult in the East.