Take a boat tour from the marina on a scenic section of the Missouri River, marveling at the majestic mountains that give the spot its name.
Gates of the Mountain Marina is the starting point for boat tours on one of the most spectacular stretches of the Missouri River. Step aboard a boat and admire the awe-inspiring mountain vistas.
Learn the origin of the name, “Gates of the Mountains,” which came from American explorer Meriwether Lewis. While navigating this portion of the Missouri River in 1805, Lewis was struck by the immense stone slopes of the surrounding mountains, which seemed to block off the waterway entirely, only to open up as the boat drew closer. “I shall call this place: Gates of the Mountains,” he wrote in his journal.
Little has changed in Gates of the Mountains since then, with much of the region being declared a wilderness area, thus preventing development. Come to the marina to set out on your very own expedition into the wild heart of the area.
Look at the imposing gray stone cliffs lining each side of the water as you move along and you’ll soon see that Meriwether was right. As you approach turns in the waterway, it really does appear as if the peaks will prevent passage.
Some boat excursions lead past pictographs that predate Meriwether’s journey. Others stop at a picnic area. Try to spot wildlife, such as bighorn sheep, goats and eagles, all of which reside in the Gates of the Mountains region.
The marina itself comprises more than 140 private docks of varying sizes, a gas dock and a members-only bathroom. Bring along your own boat and pay a fee to launch it from the public launch at the marina, which is open daily from early morning until night. Trailer parking is available for a fee at the marina. Overnight moorings are reserved only for members of the marina.
Find the Gates of the Mountains Marina about 20 miles (30 kilometers) north of Helena at the northern edge of Upper Holter Lake. Tours generally run from late May to late September.