Surfers Brave 45-Degree Temperatures to Surf on Montana’s Yellowstone River

by Sean Griffin
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(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Surfers in wet suits gear up in 45-degree weather to surf the Yellowstone River this weekend. They launched around the CHS Refinery in Laurel on Friday, Oct. 28.

Billings and Laurel are expected to see highs in the mid-60s through the weekend.

Kai Lenny, the surfer in the video below, has experience braving the rapids in one of America’s wildest places. “It was like juggling while standing on a bowling ball covered in Vaseline rolling down a tight rope,” Lenny then said of the difficult experience. The surfing event below occurred in 2017.

The Yellowstone River is a tributary of the Missouri River. It runs approximately 692 miles (1,114 km) long throughout the Western United States.

The river is considered the principal tributary of upper Missouri, via its own tributaries it drains an area with headwaters across the mountains and high plains of southern Montana and northern Wyoming. The river stretches east from the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of Yellowstone National Park.

It flows northeast to its confluence with the Missouri River on the North Dakota side of the border. It lies about 25 miles west of present-day Williston.

On the other hand, whitewater surfing is becoming an increasingly popular sport and tourist experience in Montana and beyond.

Yellowstone National Park to Reopen Roads After Yellowstone River Floods

Yellowstone National Park has suffered from massive flooding recently. Now, it has less than 20 days to meet its self-imposed deadline. The park designated October 15th as its goal for reopening the northern roads of the park which have been damaged by floods.

“We set a very aggressive target and I think that people need to understand that this is not easy,” said park superintendent Cam Sholly.

However, according to KBZK News in Montana, Sholly believes reaching the deadline is still possible.

“The fifteenth is still doable. We’re always said we’ll continue to do work after the fifteenth, but we want to make sure it’s safe,” said Sholly.

However, the project will be a huge effort. An old one-lane road that dates back to 1879 will now be updated.

“In a normal project, you’ve got normally years to do something like this. You’ve got years of planning and engineering that went into it. And, you know, we did that in weeks,” said Sholly, who sat down with MTN News at his office in Mammoth.

Then, in the community of Cooke City, business owners tell MTN they have faith in Sholly to open the roads and bring back tourists.

Elkhart Lodge owner Lisa Ohlinger weighed in. “Cam Sholly has been gracious to us. He’s been keeping us informed. He seems to be a really trustworthy guy, and when he tells me that park’s going to be open October fifteenth, I expect it.”

Xanterra’s Mike Keller said NPS ensured Mammoth would be open soon. “We’ve actually been telling people for a while that Mammoth will be open this winter. The National Park Service assured us they would have it ready for us.”

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