Parks' Fly Shop:

Rates, Policies, and What's Included

On this page we discuss rates, deposit and cancellation policies, and other common "pre-booking" concerns. You should also check out the guided trip FAQ, which answers other common questions (and in some cases repeats what's on this page).

Policies and rates revised January 16, 2019. The policies described below supersede all previous documents, online or printed, and are in effect as of this date for all trips booked on or after this date. We will update other documentation to match this page ASAP. This notice is mostly just to cover us if we miss something somewhere.

Guiding Season

We run guided trips year-round, though the availability of each trip type varies by season and by both year-to-year and day-to-day water conditions. Here's an approximate rundown:

  • Public Water Walk & Wade: Available year-round, with most trips between October 15 and the end of May running as half-day or "winter special" trips. Full-day and half-day trips are available in the core summer-fall season.
  • Public Water Float: Available mid-March through mid-November. Full-day and half-day options are available throughout this period, though the spring runoff in May-June limits the rivers available at this time. "Double half-day" floats are available from late June or early July until early August.
  • Private Water Walk & Wade Available year-round.
  • Private Water (Lake) Float: Available from ice-out in March-April through October except during the late July to early September summer doldrums.
  • Walk/Float Combo Trip: Available from the end of the Yellowstone's spring melt in June-July through early October.
  • Lessons: Available year-round

Rates

With the exception of lessons, the following rates are for one or two anglers. Three-person trips are available on walk-wade trips only, for an additional $100 on half-day trips and $150 on full-day trips. More than three anglers on any guided trip or more than two anglers on any boat trip require additional guides at standard rates.

While we are eager to book clients for multi-day packages, the rates below do not include multi-day packages. We want to plan out packages with each group of clients on an individual basis, after talking things through. Generally speaking, our packages are based on the standard rates below, with additional discounts kicking in for packages of 5+ consecutive days, with the exception of Missouri River trips from April through early June, where discounts apply to 2+ days of fishing.

While most of the waters we guide are available for single-day bookings, some destinations require multi-day bookings due to their distance from Gardiner, MT. These bookings may be for either full-day or half-day trips. These fisheries are noted when appropriate on the other guided trip pages in the website.

Not all fisheries and not all trip types (walk/float/combo) are available all year, with weather and water conditions and regulations the key factors involved in determining the trip types that are available. Please ask us for details, or read through the relevant other pages in the guided trips section of the site, which go into a lot of detail about where we fish when.

Except where specifically noted, rates are identical for walk-wade and float trips. The main determining factors are instead the time of year and whether we're fishing public water where we are responsible for commercial use fees or private waters where clients are responsible for their own "rod fees," but we pay no commercial fees.

Full-Day Public Water Trips

$525

Full-day public water trips are available on public rivers, streams, or lakes in Yellowstone Park and Montana within about a 2hr radius of Gardiner or Livingston, MT. They begin between 5AM and 10AM and run until 3PM to 7PM, with precise hours depending on weather and water conditions, the time we meet in the morning, and travel time to the water we'll be fishing. They run about 8-11 hours including the guide's travel time from Gardiner, MT for Yellowstone Park trips, or from Gardiner or Livingston, MT for float trips. Full-days are available from March through October. Lunch is included.

Add $50 for "double half-day" floats. See the river floats page for details on these specialty trips.

Full-Day Private Water Trips

$495

Full-day private water trips are available on the Story Ranch Lakes, Burns Lake, Depuy Spring Creek, Armstrong Spring Creek, and Nelson's Spring Creek, all located in the Yellowstone River valley between 30 minutes and 1hr 45min from Gardiner.

NOTE: the rates above do not include access fees of $40 to $120 per client per day depending on the body of water and the time of year. These fees are payable to the landowner by clients or on behalf of clients. We will let you know the fees when you book.

Fishing licenses are required on Armstrong and Nelson's, but not on the other private waters.

Half-Day Public Water Trips

$425

Half-day trips are available on waters in Montana and Yellowstone within about an hour of Gardiner or Livingston, MT. They may begin anytime between 5AM and 4PM, depending on trip location, travel time, client goals, and the weather/season. They run 4-6 hours including travel time. Lunch is not included.

Half-Day Private Water Trips

$395

Half-day private water trips are available on the Story Ranch Lakes, Depuy Spring Creek, Armstrong Spring Creek, and Nelson's Spring Creek, all located in the Yellowstone River valley between 30 minutes and 1hr from Gardiner.

NOTE: the rates above do not include access fees of $40 to $120 per client per day depending on the body of water and the time of year. These fees are payable to the landowner by clients or on behalf of clients. We will let you know the fees when you book. Note that private landowners do not offer reduced fees for half-day trips, so full-day trips on these waters are more cost-effective.

Fishing licenses are required on Armstrong and Nelson's, but not on the other private waters.

Walk/Float Combo Trips

$575

Combo trips include a half-day in the boat and a half-day on foot. These trips take place exclusively on public land, with half the day spent in the northern part of Yellowstone Park and half spent on the Yellowstone River within about 30 miles of Gardiner, MT. The additional price reflects the fact that our commercial use fees are doubled due to the fact two different jurisdictions are involved, as well as the fact these days tend to run long and so the guide deserves a bit more.

Spring/Fall Public Water Special

$50-$100 Discount

Spring/fall discounts apply on public water trips during late fall and early spring. Take $50 off a half-day trip or $100 off a full-day trip. Note that full-day trips will run a couple hours short including travel under these rates due to slow fishing and uncomfortable weather early and late in the day. Standard rates apply to longer trips.

Discounts apply from November 1 through May 20 on all waters except the Missouri River, though in the dead of winter our winter special trip is a better bet. Meeting times in spring and late fall will generally be around 10AM to noon, or a bit earlier in early May.

Missouri River Spring Special: $900 for a full-day float trip and a half-day float trip on consecutive days, offer valid March 15 through June 14. Note that you will need to meet your guide in or near Helena, Wolf Creek, or Craig, MT on these trips.

Winter Public Water Special

$275

In the dead of winter, fishing opportunities are limited to the warmest part of the day on most waters and most days. For this reason, we offer a special low rate for short (2.5-3 hours on the water) walk-wade trips on the Yellowstone River. Trips will generally meet around noon and be off the water by 4PM. These trips and rates are available from November 1 through April 14, with the first half of November and February and March prime time.

Basic Fishing Lesson

$200 & Up

Basic fly fishing lessons are available year-round and take place at a wading access in Yellowstone Park or Montana. Add $25 per student after the first, with a maximum of five students. Trips include 2 hours on the water. Please note that we do not accept reservations more than a week in advance for lessons from June 1 through September, and availability during the summer will be limited and based on guide availability.

Note that we are happy to take beginners on normal guided trips. The lessons are just "a taste" for those without the time or budget to take a full guided trip.

All lessons are taught by fully-licensed fly fishing guides, but given their short duration that limits our ability to get to ideal fisheries, we do not consider these full-fledged guided trips.

Casting Lesson

$75/hr & Up

Casting lessons are available year-round and consist only of dry-land casting instruction and practice, typically at the Gardiner high school field. Add $10 per student flat fee after the first student. Maximum 10 students. Minimum 1hr instruction. Please note that we do not accept reservations more than a week in advance for lessons from June 1 through September, and availability during the summer will be limited and based on guide availability.


What's Included?

All trips include the following:

  • The use of a rod/reel, if needed
  • Wading gear appropriate to the weather and season; if it's warm out, this includes wet-wading gear rather than full waders (which are available to rent if desired). Note that wading gear is not included on lessons, only on full guided trips.
  • Flies, though you're encouraged to bring your own favorites and we will provide suggestions on what to tie when you book, if you like to "roll your own"
  • All leaders, tippet material, shot, etc., unless you prefer to tie your own leaders or use a specific brand of indicator
  • Water and soft drinks
  • Transportation from Parks' Fly Shop or a prearranged meeting point in Yellowstone Park or Montana
  • River shuttles, gas, and other transportation costs associated with the guide's motor vehicle and/or boat. We may ask float trip clients to do us the favor of running our river shuttle during periods when our shuttle service is not operating. If so, we will provide a $20 discount from the posted rates, provided the trip is running at standard summer rates rather than the spring/fall discounted rate.

Trips do not include the following:

  • Spin fishing lures or tackle, if members of your party opt to use this technique
  • Montana and/or Yellowstone Park fishing licenses, if applicable
  • Yellowstone Park entrance fees, if applicable
  • Private water access fees, if applicable
  • Hiking gear (light backpack and hiking boots), if applicable
  • Required personal attire (rain gear, hat, polarized sunglasses, clothing suitable for the weather and terrain)
  • Alcoholic beverages (BYOB, aluminum cans and plastic bottles only in boats please)
  • Guide gratuities

Reservations, Deposits, and Final Payments

Reservations

Reservations are required. For trips from mid-October through mid-May, we can often be booked a day or two in advance, though not always. During the June-September absolute peak season, all our in-house guides as well as the experienced independent contractor guides we use are often fully booked months in advance, so we suggest calling or e-mailing to book as soon as you can. The tighter your available dates, the more important it is to give as much notice as possible.

To begin booking a trip, fill out our trip booking and information form, call, or e-mail. We finalize all bookings over the phone, so your booking is not confirmed until you hear it from us verbally and later in writing.

Deposits and Cancellations

To confirm your booking and hold your date(s), we require a deposit of one half the total trip price or $1000, whichever is less upon booking. This deposit may be paid via credit card (VISA/MC). If you wish to pay the deposit via personal check, cashier's check, or money order, we must receive this payment within 7 days of booking. A valid credit card number is required to hold all dates, whether this is the preferred payment method or not. For bookings made less than seven days before the trip date, the deposit must be made upon booking via credit card.

If you book a private water trip and we are reserving the water with the landowner on your behalf, we will add the required access fees to your deposit.

Since our business is highly seasonal and late cancellations are difficult to rebook, we have adopted the following cancellation policies. They are comparable to those of our competitors.

  • Deposits for cancellations received in writing prior to one month before the trip date (or first date of a multi-day trip) will be refunded in full.
  • From one month to 72 hours prior to a trip, cancellations will forfeit the deposit unless we are able to rebook the date for a trip of equal or greater price.
  • Trips canceled within 72 hours of a trip require full payment unless we are able to rebook the date for a trip of equal or greater price.
  • Changing the scheduled trip date or dates within 30 days of a trip may be treated as a cancellation and rebooking or allowed without penalty, at our discretion, depending on whether or not we have turned away business for the date originally booked and in particular whether we are able to rebook the guide, if a specific guide has already been assigned to the trip.
  • You may request a specific guide and we will do our best to assign this guide to your trip, but we do not guarantee this guide's availability. For example if the guide gets sick the morning of a trip and we have another guide available, we will expect your trip to proceed with this alternate guide.
  • Schedule changes within 30 days of a trip with a requested guide will be treated as a cancellation and rebooking unless the requested guide is willing and available to accommodate a schedule change. In other words, cancellations this late on a request basis have almost certainly cost the guide a trip already, and so he is entitled to the original deposit.
  • Deposits we take to reserve private waters on your behalf may or may not be refundable. This depends on the specific policies of each landowner.
  • Unless weather or water conditions are dangerous or unfishable, we do not cancel trips due to weather or water conditions. We fish rain, shine, snow, or wind. Any rescheduling due to marginal but not impossible weather/water conditions is at the sole discretion of the guide impacted. At the guide's discretion we may offer to cut a full-day trip to a shorter-duration trip without penalty, if conditions warrant.
  • While we are more than willing to take client preferences into consideration in regards to the body of water we fish and the techniques we use, we do not guarantee that we will fish any specific body of water or use any specific fishing techniques. In other words, if there is a body of water suitable for the type of trip you have booked (e.g. river float vs walk-wade), you should expect your trip to go forward. We will not accept cancellations if your preferred body of water becomes unfishable, your preferred techniques are unlikely to produce, or the weather is unpleasant but safe.
  • We reserve the right to cancel or reduce the duration of any trip due to dangerous or unfishable weather or water conditions, guide illness or emergency, or equipment breakdown. If we have to cancel a trip, we will attempt to reschedule the trip or will offer a full refund of the deposit. If trips are cut short, we may refund a portion of the trip fee depending on how much time is lost, solely at our discretion.
  • If you are concerned about your ability to take a trip based on the above conditions, we suggest purchasing a travel insurance policy. Travel Guard is a good choice.

Final Payments

The balance of the trip must be paid in full before the last time you depart our shop. In other words, you may pay at the end of a trip if you'll be picking up your car at our shop at the end of your trip, but if you'll be departing from the fishing destination and not returning to the shop, we'll charge you before you depart. In the case of trips in which you will be meeting the guide in the field rather than at our shop, we will charge the credit card on file the day before the trip runs. Merchandise and licenses will be charged in a separate transaction from guide service. License fees paid via credit card will be assessed a 3% service charge to cover our credit card fees, since state and federal agencies do not pay us for license transactions.

All merchandise and guide service conducted between June 1 and September 30 is subject to Gardiner, MT local option tax. This tax is charged to the entire guide service fee, including the portion pre-paid via deposit. It does not apply to license fees.


General Guided Trips Policies

Policies and common questions are discussed in much greater detail on our Guided Trips FAQ. This is just a quick rundown.

  • Trips are catch and release only except where must-kill regulations are in place.
  • All fishing is barbless and artificials-only. No natural or synthetic bait. Spin fishing is permitted on river float trips only. Spin-fishing clients must remove one hook point from any treble hooks.
  • We do not intentionally target or disturb actively-spawning wild trout. Trips fishing for "fall-run brown trout" target only pre-spawn trout in deeper water, not spawners on their shallow redds, for example.
  • All plastic and aluminum containers used on our trips will be recycled.
  • We follow "leave no trace" guidelines on all trips.
  • We follow Yellowstone Park guidelines on animal interactions on all trips, inside the park or not. Animals get the right of way...
  • We attempt to follow "visual rule of crowding" guidelines on all walk trips, when it is at all feasible. Basically this means fishing out of sight of other anglers whenever we can.
  • We accept clients aged 8 and up, or 12 and up for trips from October 15 through April 15 (the latter is due to cold temps and dangerous water conditions for younger children).
  • No more than five guests may join us on any trip unless additional guides are booked. This includes non-angling observers who are not being charged, even on lessons. Yellowstone Park regulations do not permit us to supervise more than five guests at a time, and anyone with us on a trip is a guest whether we are charging them or not.
  • All guests must sign acknowledgement of risk and acceptance of responsibility forms at the beginning of the trip, including notes on any physical or mental considerations the guides must know about (eg non-obvious injuries, fear of animals or heights, inability to swim, etc.). Refusal to do so will constitute a late cancellation and require full payment.
  • Clients must wear eye protection at all times (with polarized sunglasses strongly encouraged).
  • Wading gear worn in boats must not include any metal studs, cleats, or bars. Wading gear worn in Yellowstone Park must not include felt soles. Wading gear will be cleaned before moving between water bodies in different river drainages.
  • We ask that our clients leave their firearms at home, even when they possess valid concealed-carry permits. To be frank, we don't know how clients will react to bears and virtually all concealed-carry weapons lack the muzzle energy to do more than make bears angry anyway. Our guides carry bear spray on all walk trips and we have additional canisters available for client use, on request. Bear spray has been proven to be far more effective at deterring bear attacks than firearms. For what it's worth, most of our staff own firearms of one type or another and some are concealed-carry permit holders, so this isn't a political statement of any kind.
  • No illegal drugs on trips, please. This includes medical marijuana in client possession while traveling in our vehicles in Yellowstone Park. Since this is a federal park, state legalization laws do not apply (including Montana medical marijuana laws) and our guides may be considered responsible if we get checked by a ranger or cop and clients are in possession. Clients will be sued in civil court for any violations of this policy that impact Parks' Fly Shop, its operations, its property, or its guides in any way.
  • No smoking or other open flames in rubber rafts (for obvious reasons) or during periods of High or Extreme fire danger as declared by Yellowstone Park, the Custer-Gallatin National Forest, and/or the state of Montana. All tobacco ash/waste must be handled in a way that prevents litter and the potential for fire. Some guides may have respiratory issues and ask you to refrain from smoking or vaping in their presence, but subject to fire restrictions in late summer we can always stop for a smoke break.
  • No glass containers in boats, though wine bottles stowed in gear bags or the cooler except at lunch are fine. No open alcohol containers in our motor vehicles except obvious refuse stowed in the cooler.

Other Expenses & Gratuities

Other Expenses

Other possible expenses may include the following, with the precise additional expenses depending on where and when we fish:

  • Montana or Yellowstone National Park fishing licenses
  • Yellowstone Park entrance fees, if we're fishing inside the park
  • Private water access fees
  • All clients must have or be ready to purchase eye protection, preferably polarized sunglasses! No exceptions! Clip-on or gas station grade polarized shades are acceptable, but a lack of any polarized glasses is the single biggest reason clients fail to recognize when fish strike, and lacking something to shield your eyes invites losing them to an errant hook. This is the sort of nightmare scenario that makes guides wake up sweating. Yes, we did mention this requirement in bold three times on this page. It is that important.

Gratuities

Whether you choose to fish with us or another outfitter, average gratuities for Montana fly fishing guides average $50 to $100 for half-day trips and $80 to $150 for full-day trips. Gratuities can be handled ahead of time via your preferred payment method if there's no other option, but cash at the end of each day of fishing for the guide you have that day is most certainly king. Note that gratuities average about the same amount whether you are fishing with the business owner (in this case Richard Parks) or a guide working on behalf of the business.


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