How a River Shuttle Saves you Money & Time

How a River Shuttle Saves you Money & Time

How a River Shuttle Saves you Money & Time

All the fly shops have shuttle businesses. So before I get too far down this road of this math equation I will let you know that I am not yelling from the mountaintop to improve our shuttle game. This is simply a blog about How a River Shuttle Saves you Money & Time.

Just a simple equation about how you can spend more time with your loved ones and save a few lots of bucks.

Many think that the shuttle when traveling from either Great Falls or Helena is overpriced and not necessary. The common belief is that a river shuttle costs too much. I beg to differ and will present the facts below.

  • 45 miles from either Great Falls or Helena. 90 miles total there and back.

So a scenario starting in Great Falls includes driving both vehicles to Craig, stopping to buy a few hot flies, then heading down to the boat ramp at Stickney Creek. Launch boat. Then get in both cars, drive the 12 miles to Mountain Palace, drop off the boat trailer, then get back into the 2nd vehicle and drive back up to Stickney Creek, leave car at ramp, jump in boat and fish.

  • Add 24 miles to 2nd vehicle and a time of 30 minutes there and back. 
  • The 12 miles to the boat trailer vehicle is a wash. Because the distance would be the same if you paid for the shuttle service. 

Float the canyon stretch Stickney Creek to Mountain Palace. at a distance of 12 road miles. Catch a bunch of fish enjoying the entire day on the river. Get to boat ramp at 6pm tired, yet happy. Pull boat out of water, tie down, stow gear and head back up to Stickney Creek to pick up 2nd vehicle.

  • Add 12 more miles to each vehicle and a time of 15 additional minutes. 

Now drive back to Great Falls in separate vehicles. You could be hanging out with your friends or family but instead you are in separate vehicles. Bummer.

I have always thought doing your own shuttle is wasteful because of the amount of time you spend, less, with those you are fishing with. Much of the fishing game is valuable to us because of the joy of experiencing your friends and family. That is the primary objective for fishing, at least for me. Enjoying the fishing fellowship with friends. Extremely valuable!

But if you don’t include the 1 1/2 hrs that you don’t get to spend with your friends you are still losing.

If you add the miles up for the 2nd vehicle and the additional 12 miles to you vehicle let’s see what we come up with in dollars.

90 miles to and fro, 12 miles for the shuttle down and back for 24 miles gives us a total of 114 miles. (We won’t include the 12 miles back for the vehicle with the boat trailer.) 114 miles @ 15mpg equals 7.6 gallons of fuel. The summer average of fuel will be somewhere around $2.00/gal, or more, for a total gas bill of $15.20. But it would not surprise any of us if the price of gas runs up to the $3 mark. Remember just recently the $4/gallon price? And higher?

  • Total Gas Cost for 114 mile round trip is $15.20.

We all know it is not that simple. Teenagers price things out like that. The simplest form. But we as adults are not quite that simplistic. We know there are not only hidden costs like tires, insurance, routine maintenance but the very real costs of gasoline. If you look at a site like AAA they will outline the actual cost of running vehicles.

  • AAA estimates the actual cost per mile is $0.595/mile.
  • 114@59.5 cents/mile = $67.83

The shuttle fee for Stickney Creek to Mountain Palace is about $28. A savings of $40. And if you add the time spent with friends and family…how do you price that out? That time is priceless. Right?

So that is why I am so confused by those who choose to do their own shuttles when driving from out of the area. If you live in the canyon, that is one thing. But anywhere outside of the local river area…it really does not make much sense at all!

I have done the math for you. Why not start saving time, money, and the environment this year by getting a river shuttle?

It just makes a lot of sense.

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5 Comments. Leave new

  • Ben Eisinger
    March 30, 2016 9:34 am

    You are so right on. What would you pay to fish the Missouri river for a hour when your sitting at work?? Takes an hour to do the shuttle. If you figure gas, vehicle depreciation, hope you don’t hit a deer/goat/bear/pole/another fisherman? Shuttles are cheap when you consider true cost of doing it yourself.
    Good job Professor Raisler. Save the environment buy a shuttle!!

  • Good math Mark, impressive.

  • This is great to have it broken down so well… more math help please – at how many miles, from home, does it become a wash? If you don’t live in the canyon, but you are not as far away as GFalls or Helena, then what is the cut off where it’s the same cost for the shuttle as it is for the second rig? And I totally agree about the lost time with the folks you want to be with as well as the wear and tear on the 2nd rig. Thanks for this! I love it!

  • LOL! I’ve had this conversation with so many new floaters. Somehow it seems like a great idea to them to shuttle two cars back and forth twice during the trip…it never works out like that. Shuttle is always the best way!

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