Carter Ferry – No Ride Today

We had hoped to ride the Carter Ferry the other day, one of three free river ferries on the Upper Missouri River in north central Montana. In all honesty, we weren’t going to the other side of the river for a reason – we just wanted to ride the ferry across, then back! Yes, I’ve had some funny looks from the guy who operates the ferry but I think our old-time river ferries are fun and unique!

Carter is about 25 minutes northeast of Great Falls on US Hwy 87. You’ll see a sign for fishing access when you get to this small community, also one for the ferry. The landscape is rolling here, beautiful fields of grain, and the Highwood Mountains form a backdrop to the east. When you travel five miles (gravel) from the ferry sign in Carter, the landscape is entirely different. An easy descent into the Missouri River bottom brings on a dramatic change.

This photo makes the “mailbox” look like it is part of the ferry. Well, it isn’t, I was just at a unique angle. There is a buzzer attached to the mailbox and you press that to call the ferry operator. Pretty cool!

With high water levels and a fair amount of debris floating downstream, the river ferries have been docked. I’m hoping the water flows settle in to their summer average current of about 3.5 miles per hour. The Mighty Mo is really the Meandering Missouri on a typical Montana summer day so I’m thinking we could be riding the ferries in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned – I’ll be sure to snap a photo when I can put my car on the ferry for the ride across the Missouri (and back)!

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