Icy water feels as if it is running through your veins. Adrenaline is surging, eyes are bulging and you emerge from the depths to be welcomed by the warm Montana sun. Anyone who has ever gone cliff jumping has experienced the rush and shiver of the recent trend. Jocko Falls between Arlee and St. Ignatius, Montana is the first place I ever took the leap. It’s not the world’s largest, deepest or most exhilarating place to jump, but it is one of the most beautiful, crystal clear waterfalls and pools out there.
If you intend to visit Jocko Falls solely for the hiking, it is surrounded by a number of other waterfalls along the North Fork of the Jocko River and is also the trailhead to Lost Sheep Lake. The paths are also used for biking and horseback riding, so feel free to bring your furry friends. The Arlee community does warn that the area is known for black bears, grizzly bears, coyotes, wolves and all the other animals that call the Rockies their home. They also warn people not to count on cellular service, so always have a backup plan just in case.
The entire river is situated in the Flathead Indian Reservation, so if you want to do anything other than explore and take a dive make sure to purchase valid tribal permits for hunting, fishing and other permit required activities. Other than that, Jocko Falls is like a city of trees perfect for picnics, excursions and exploring our own backyard. From the Missoula area, it is less than an hour drive away.
If you’re not sure what to expect when you arrive, a high definition virtual tour is available online of Jocko Falls and the surrounding area. You can also adventure through Arlee and see a current time lapse of the weather on the same website.
I have lived in Missoula for a couple years and never knew about the Jocko River area and falls. The only reason that I know where they are today is because one of my close friends grew up in Arlee and has been exploring the mountains since childhood. Though Jocko Falls and its surrounding area is open to the public, it is only known to a small community of locals and is one of Montana’s best kept river-plunging secrets.